About Us

 SMPS Alabama - the Early Years

 Submitted by Ron Garikes, FSMPS, SMPS Alabama President 1987--1988

 "When in doubt...plagiarize or throw a party". When a friend/business associate informed me this was SMPS's unofficial maxim, I knew I'd fit in like a duck to water. After 27 years as a member, I can unequivocally say it was one of the best decisions I ever made from both a professional and personal perspective.

 With only a few years of seat-of-the-pants experience and no formal marketing/BD training, my introduction to SMPS was a career changing occurrence. Finding out about several other like minded folks in Birmingham through the National organization not only reinforced the sense of there being safety in numbers, it also was the initiation of relationships that ultimately led to the formation of the Alabama Chapter.

 Following are a few milestones we experienced along the way:

  • Initially, several of us started attending Atlanta Chapter meetings on a regular basis
  • Led by Atlanta Chapter member and S.E. Regional Director, Sally Rasmussen, our good friends from Hotlanta provided support, guidance and encouragement in our journey to Chapter hood
  • Several organizational meetings later we were chartered and officially designated as the Alabama Chapter
  • Founding members included Phil Bannan, President; Sue Jeffreys, VP; Melinda Parsons, Treasurer; Mary Alice Kenley , Secretary (I think); Kelly Flowers, ? Committee Chair; Yours truly, Program Chair; Edah Grover; Virginia Caradine; Sue Singleton; Carolyn Sturdivant; and Sandra Cox
  • Phil left for greener pastures after 6 months or so and the board asked me to take over. B'ham being a very conservative Southern city the ladies on the board thought we'd be viewed with more credibility with male leadership. Hard to believe this issue was ever a serious consideration
  • We were a fairly young, inexperienced, and rowdy group, and Mary Alice and Sue were a mature and calming influence. Having said that, talk about the blind leading the blind
  • The Chapter grew and flourished in no small measure due to excellent programs. Our Kickoff Classic, reps from Alabama and Auburn; Healthcare Panel; Fed procurement folks combined with nationally recognized marketing gurus including Lifetime Achievement Award recipients including Kay Lentz; Bruce Lea; and Laurin McCracken, who all provided high value educational programs at no cost to us, enhancing our position in the local A/EC community along with our bank account.
  • Large turnouts, financial success, value added programming and an enthusiastic, creative, dedicated and fun loving core member leadership group laid a strong foundation for growth and long term success
  • I went on to serve for 5 years on the National Board including a term as National President. Running unopposed and a few campaign by-law changes had a lot to do with an unknown yahoo from Alabama winning the presidency.
  • No doubt it was the best leadership, relationship building, networking, strategic marketing and public speaking training I ever received. In fact, during my tenure on the board I conducted a minimum of 50 programs for chapters, regional and national conferences on a wide variety of marketing topics. Over the next 15 years or so I averaged around 5 programs a year for another 75+ speaking engagements.
  • No matter what the venue or the topic, I always advocated and promoted active participation in SMPS, arguing no client/project was exclusively local as team members, the competition and financing were nationally and frequently global in scope. Membership in a national organization like SMPS could give any firm a competitive advantage.
  • I also annually tracked revenue/contracts my firm secured because of a SMPS connection and shared these figures at every speaking engagement. Over the course of my 27 year as a member we landed approximately 25 million in fees averaging just south of a million a year. One hell of a ROI according to any industry standards.
  • One last point about my SMPS speaking opportunities. My very first program - "Niche Marketing: Profit by Specialization" and my last time to speak in public, a year and a half after my ALS diagnosis, "Doing Business on the Golf Course" were both for my home Chapter, Alabama.
  • A truly rewarding conclusion to my "public speaking" career. Talking about two of my favorite subjects, golf and marketing, with an always most gracious and supportive group of fellow Alabama SMPS members.

 Congratulations on 25 years of success SMPS Alabama! I will always cherish the memories and especially the friendships I made along the way.

Philip Bannan, SMPS Alabama President 1986--1987

 The names escape me, (it has been 25 years!), but the formation of the Alabama SMPS Chapter was a joint/collaborative effort on the part of several folks. Not the least of which was Ron Garikes. Ron may remember the names - there was one man with a construction company, a young woman by the name of Kelly, another woman with an architectural (Kidd, et al?)firm, and another woman with an architectural firm (McCauley?).  

We received the support of the Atlanta Chapter including Sally Rasmussen, Al Pond and "Ham" whose last name I don't remember. The Atlanta folks gave us maybe 50 dollars for wine and cheese, and came to the gathering. I was able to get the Birmingham Press Club at no charge (I think). The 4-5 of us made lots of phone calls to the AEC firms in the area; had a decent turnout, and the rest as they say  is history.  I remember one of the things I insisted on - it was going to be the "Alabama Chapter" not Birmingham. As a "Damyankee" I understood the fact it would be more acceptable to those in the business, but not in Birmingham.

Mary Alice Kenley, SMPS Alabama President 1990--1991

While marketing was not the core of my career, the skills I learned and connections I made in SMPS positioned me for the political career that lay ahead. I value the relationships I made during my marketing years, and still count some of those people among my best friends.

I was fortunate to be in SMPS during its embryonic stages when we just made it up as we went along. Through my relationship with Ron Garikes, we were able to build the winning team that designed the Kirklin Clinic--over too many glasses of wine!

One funny memory: Our little group was sitting around a table at a Southside restaurant, sort of drawing straws (not literally, but almost) to see who would do what job that year. This was the tough campaign that resulted in my being named treasurer. Garikes told me my first official duty was to pay the tab, for which he handed me a $10 bill. I lost the money on the way to the cashier, so they made me switch jobs with the secretary!

Suzanne Singleton, SMPS Alabama President 1993--1994

Many thanks for the invitation and your efforts to identify and recognize all past presidents of the Alabama Chapter. I'm afraid I will not be able  to make it for the event, but I want to send my greetings to all who remember me, and the time I served as president with thanks to those who served on the Board during my tenure. The success of any president is truly dependent on the support of those who lend their suppport in making sure that members benefit from programs, content, and networking opportunities offered by SMPS. Congratulations and best wishes on the continued success of SMPS Alabama.

Missy Mauk Heard, SMPS Alabama President 2001--2002, 2004--2005

I'm happy to share that SMPS has most certainly contributed to the success I have had in the A/E/C industry. SMPS has provided a great networking opportunity and access to relevant educational programs. The friendships I have created through the local chapter, as well as through the national network have been a tremendous asset. SMPS is a great and unique resource for marketing and business development people in our industry. Serving on the Board was also especially helpful with my career. Yo learn so much when you plug in and serve an organization. It definitely helps you learn how to manage processes and people more effectively. I'm very thankful for the opportunities that SMPS has afforded me and encourage others to get involved and give back to the industry.

Jacqueline L. Franklin, SMPS President 2002--2003

Sitting at the computer, I took a moment to reflect on how the years of service with SMPS helped to shape my vision to launch my firm. Some thoughts, as requested from former Chapter presidents.

Service creates Vision. Vision creates Possibilities. Possibilities create Opportunities, and Opportunities are vehicles to success!

Years of service on the SMPS Board and serving as the Chapter president helped to create vision for the company that I own and have operated for the past nine years. With vision, opportunities continue to come and by grace, the vehicle is succeeding! Thank you, SMPS, for the opportunity to have served my peers and the Alabama Chapter.

Matt Adams, SMPS Alabama President 2006--2007

I am very sorry that I will be unable to make the meeting due to a project that just came up which will require me to travel out of town that day. Please give everyone my best as well as my sincere regrets.

Just tell them that my involvement with SMPS has absolutely been a key component in my success since entering this industry over seven years ago.