Congratulations to all the winners at the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce annual installation and awards luncheon that was held last week at Tchefuncta Country Club in Covington.
The big day is much like our local version of the Academy Awards—a time to recognize outstanding business people who are key to the Chamber operation and thereby help other local businesses, while also noting some amazing businesses simply for what they do.
Jay Connaughton, founder and key man for Innovative Advertising in Covington, received the Tammany Award—the top honor of the day—for building a business that went national last year during the Donald Trump presidential campaign.
Connaughton, getting a bit emotional on stage when he referred to the support from his wife Jennifer, said she had to keep the home fires burning since he is on the road 200 days a year! He guided a company that doubled in size last year and now has 28 employees. Innovative Advertising has a very neat catch phrase—People Who Think—and it sure helped them take off in the past year as their revenue went up 300 percent.
I have worked with them through the newspaper as they have placed ads with Tammany West and I have seen some very neat ads so if you are looking for a good agency to lead your business I don’t think you could do any worse than having a chat with their folks.
One big bit of news that I was not aware of was when it was mentioned during the introduction of the award that Jay’s firm created 30 of the ads for Donald Trump’s campaign. For that work he will be at the inauguration in Washington D.C. on Friday—lucky guy as far as I’m concerned.
Don’t miss our complete coverage of the awards day on page 5A in today’s publication.
There are always some good laughs at events like this and a few of my favorite guys didn’t fail to disappoint.
Trey Folse, superintendent of our St. Tammany public school system, took the podium to kick things off as a picture of himself was on the overhead projector. Trey suddenly had a little explaining to do since the picture on the screen for all to see had him wearing the exact same tie he had on that day.
“I just want you to know that I have more than one tie,” he said.
Trey got a little unwanted attention from our new Sheriff Randy Smith when the top law enforcement man in the parish took the stage to lead the new Board of Directors in their Oath of Office.
Trey had given a very complimentary introduction to Randy before bringing him on stage, talking about Randy’s accomplishments leading up to his big victory a year ago to become the new sheriff. As Randy took the stage he showed off his well-known humor when he told Trey, “thanks for that very nice introduction. I’m sorry I can’t say any of the same things about you.”
Somehow our sheriff continues to get away with those remarks—we all know he is a funny guy, perhaps the friendliest public official ever in St. Tammany, and certainly a guy who parlayed that personality to become the sheriff. So how can you criticize him?
For that matter, I am hearing more-and-more comparisons of Randy to the outspoken remarks of Donald Trump, something the sheriff also used for another laugh.
As he took the stage he pointed out his own tie and said he noticed it was a Donald Trump tie, but then got a little worried when he “saw that it said Made in China!” I’m still trying to figure out if it really said that or not—something tells me it was Randy going for another laugh….which he got.
And as for funny guys in our business world of western St. Tammany, I think that Lakeview Regional CEO Bret Kolman is a member of that club.
He served as the Chamber Chairman for the past year and by all accounts was a great guy to be at the podium for the many public events the Chamber offers to the business world. I know every time he speaks publicly he is getting a few laughs.
At his final day in office for the Chamber, so to speak, he had his share of one-liners that got some more laughs, finally ended when he was ready to pass the gavel off to incoming Chairman Cynthia Thompson.
With one more reference to our national presidential scene, Kolman assured the crowd they could relax and not worry about a big scene since “I promise I’m going to make this a friendly transition of power.”
As Thompson was saying a few words to take over, I love something she said in reference to living in St. Tammany Parish: “It’s amazing what a Shangrila we live in.”
Hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but she certainly is right.
Hope 2017 is a great one for all the local businesses we have here—and I hope our parish residents truly give these businesses a fair chance for any business you have.
(Kevin Chiri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)