In early February of this year, which now feels like 12 months ago, everything was normal. Our US economy was strong, consumer confidence was high and unemployment figures were at historical lows. Then we started to get tidbits of information about this far away virus called Covid-19.

Did anyone fully expect then, what we know now? Not by any stretch... and unfortunately for many, they feel as if our world has turned upside down.

One thing I have learned in my 16 yr career as a financial advisor for Edward Jones is how quickly things can change.

When I first started in 2004, our coastal beach community was hit directly by hurricane Ivan in September of that same year...severely devastating our coastal area. I still keep the newspaper articles framed my office wall, reminding anyone observing the pictures, just how costly and deadly Ivan really was.

I did not have my own Edward Jones office at that time but my firm kept calling and asking me if I needed any assistance like food, supplies, generators etc. but luckily my home (in Fairhope at the time) was spared. I felt grateful knowing that my firm had my back...but others here in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, were not so fortunate. My attention to building my business was put on hold as I wanted to volunteer, meet and help people, bond with my new community during this recovery period, little did I know that my effort was building my business.

I am reminded of this every time I visit with one client that still graciously thanks me for stopping by and helping her move damaged furniture out of her flooded house on one of those hot and humid days in south Alabama. It was only a year later that hurricane Katrina visited us indirectly, and although not as devastating as Ivan, it still caused a great deal of flooding damage in our area. However...we navigated through it.

In 2008, we fell into the Great Recession. I had only been a financial advisor for 4 years now and I remember how tough it was to come into the office at times. I specifically remember some weeks where I felt like David going up against Goliath. Each day, wondering what other devastating news would fall from Wall Street as things were changing rapidly, but I persevered, as did Edward Jones, focusing on how to mentor and guide our clients through that challenging time.

In one way, it forced me to connect with our Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, keeping in touch with business and city leaders and finding ways to stay involved and informed, using resources for those that desperately needed help.

I certainly learned a lot about the career I had chosen in those years and I certainly learned a lot about myself as a person. I still appreciate it when clients thank me for reassuring them, and being a positive voice during that life changing event, guiding them on how to make confident investment decisions so they can remain in control for a lifetime. We navigated through it.

In 2010, it was the devastating Deepwater Horizon explosion followed by the BP Oil Spill. I still remember vividly, as my wife Sherry and I were sitting on the beach one lazy Sunday afternoon when we saw the first blobs of oil hitting our white sugar sand.

The impact of the oil spill was crushing for our local economy as the summer season was now apparently lost, and how could I ever forget the lengthy discussions I had with business owners, mentoring them through this latest chapter of financial stress. By now, I felt I had become more seasoned as a financial advisor, again guiding my clients to focus on the opportunities versus focusing on something they could not control. We navigated through it.

When I had the chance to serve on my Coastal Alabama Business Chamber board, I quickly realized how many skilled business and city leaders we have right here in our South Baldwin area that truly valued and appreciated the quality of life we have along our coastline. They cared about the growth and success of our area as much as I did and I was eager to work with them on our most pressing issues.

Recently, while serving as Chairman of the Board in 2019 for our CABC, we acknowledged the importance of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Foley to continuously work together on common concerns, thus creating a partnership brand like Gateway Initiative, an alliance I was certainly proud to be a part of when formed. As we continue to grow, we have to expect that we will hit some road blocks along the way but surely, we will navigate through it.

Now we are coping with the Coronavirus, and while the fear of the unknown feels different, the emotions from this pandemic are similar, just as they were during the storms, recession, and the oil spill. We must support, help and lean on each other as we did during those previous setbacks. On one of our recent Gateway conference calls, I shared timely information for business owners regarding the Cares Act and how they could understand these immediate options in regards to retirement accounts, mortgages, and student loans.

I am fortunate to work with a number of retirees in our area, and my office partner of 13 years, Carol Zambrano, came up with the brilliant idea of how we can shine during this dark time by helping our elderly clients. Since most were self quarantining due to their age or health restrictions, we understood their concerns about leaving the house to pick up things like groceries. Carol and her family made several lasagna & chili dinner portions which I personally delivered to their door. We felt it was our way to focus on something positive versus something negative. The feedback (emails/TY cards) was awesome and truly reassured us that we were making a difference.

While striving to help my clients, I am grateful that I have made a home and a career with Edward Jones here in our area and I feel privileged to be a part of a business community that I will continue to help and support. Working together, we can make a difference and I am sure...we will navigate through this.