The gentle breeze of salt air filled the Chevy Tahoe as my family and I crested the hill on the Perdido Bridge.  We were headed to Orange Beach Alabama for the very first time. 

The sun sharply reflected off of the pure white sand while the emerald green water of the Pass sparkled as if winking a greeting of “Welcome to Pleasure Island”.  We knew instantly this was a very special place and at that moment my wife and 2 teenagers said in unison, “Dad, you better nail this interview because this is HOME”.  It was early June 2018 and I was on the way to meet with the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber’s CEO search committee.  We could feel how wonderful the area was, not even knowing yet in just how many ways.  

As I began settling into my new role, the first thing I came to understand was how genuinely friendly the people are that call Coastal Alabama home.  They were welcoming and exuded a strong sense of community pride; while making my family one of their own.  After all, these are the same people who rose up while working together to face the BP oil spill and a number of catastrophic hurricanes over the past 30 years.  Cities, neighbors and businesses stood strong and unwavering through them all.  The true character of south Alabamians is strength and grit; never allowing for defeat and always persevering.  Led by the many small business owners, our region keeps coming back every time bigger, stronger and better than before.  Over the course of my years serving in the United States Army, I deployed to hotspots through the world.  Nowhere is there a community of people, businesses and public servants with more determination for perpetual self-improvement.  I am truly humbled and honored to serve the business community of Coastal Alabama.  Everyone knows that we are ALL in it together each time a challenge comes our way.  The people here have a fighting spirit like no other, weathering this and any storm only to emerge on the other side greater than before while knowing that the best is yet to come. 

As we begin to look ahead, none of us will remain untouched by the pandemic and social distancing required to stop the spread of the virus.  It allows us to pause and reflect on where we have been and how to better get to where we are going.  We will no longer say “I can go walk on the beach any time; so not today” or “I’ll catch that sunset tomorrow”.  We will now seize precious moments and continually improve our ways of doing business while serving our customers and celebrating our unique greatness.  Coastal Alabamians, their businesses and our community leaders are truly the best in the world and are the ingredients that make us special.  I’ve traveled our great country and the globe only to find my paradise right here.  I am both humbled and proud to be a part of this community and to serve our businesses while calling Coastal Alabama home.