Team Effort (Opinion)

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It’s hard to believe it’s been more than three months since my first – and only – Editor’s Note.

They say time flies when you’re having fun. Now I know it does the same thing when you’re just trying to keep it on the tracks.

I mean that mostly in jest, of course, and am proud of the effort our staff has given while trying to bring you the kinds of stories and information to which you’ve grown accustomed. As I wrote before, my predecessors left behind a damn fine blueprint.

At the same time, I also let you know we’d try some new things, and with some new faces. One of those faces is Serenah McKay.

“Miss Serenah,” as I like to call her, probably is familiar to a lot of our readers. She’s a veteran reporter whose most recent gig was writing and editing business for the statewide daily.

She’s also a former dancer, formally trained at UCLA, and brings the same combination of grit and grace needed to survive in that arena to our newsroom. Suffice it to say we’re happy she now spends her professional time tapping out words for us.

Other changes are afoot here at Gray Matters – the Business Journal’s parent company – too.

Rob Gutteridge, formerly senior brand strategist and sales manager, has been promoted to associate publisher, effective immediately. Jami Hilton-Dugger, meanwhile, now will work as brand strategist for the Business Journal.

Hilton-Dugger previously served in a similar capacity for Gray Matters’ special publications. Her new role also is effective immediately.

“I’m always excited to see young talent emerge,” said Gray Matters president and CEO Darin Gray, who also serves as publisher of the Business Journal. “Rob and Jami are being promoted because of the passion they have for the clients we serve and this company.”

Based on what we’re hearing Gray Matters isn’t the only business ready to embrace what we believe is a warming marketplace by unveiling some new and exciting offerings. (More details on new products and services we’ll be offering will be revealed in coming issues.)

Whether it’s a spunky startup like Acumen Holdings or a seasoned shape-shifter like Wal-Mart, the desire and determination to succeed in an environment of recovery is all around us. Companies like those provide evidence and inspiration simultaneously.

Some troubles remain, of course. Some of them even can be found in Whispers, where most of you no doubt flipped before coming back here.

Largely, though, tides seem to be turning. We get the sense, from listening to you, the worst is behind us.

We certainly hope the same is true for our friends in Joplin, Mo. It’s hard to believe it’s been three weeks since so many lives were affected by the tornado that tore through that city.

And that’s part of why we chose to run the column that appears below this one. It’s a reminder that just because time is beginning to fade the shock of the tragedy doesn’t mean the tragic consequences will somehow similarly dissipate.

Instead, it will take loads of determination and hard work for Joplin to re-emerge. Chris Roberts writes that he has little doubt the Joplin Tri-State Business Journal will serve as a valuable tool and resource in that process.

It is our hope the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal likewise will continue to be a trusted and valuable resource and tool for our own business community. The one thing I hope the last three months have shown is that we’ll always give it our best shot.



‘We Will Do What Needs to Be Done’

By Chris Roberts

I never knew that destruction had a smell.

It does – and it’s very distinct. Walking the streets of Joplin in the days immediately following the tornado of May 22, the stench permeated my nose.

The few people I passed digging through the rubble of their demolished homes and businesses had perhaps grown numb to the smell, or maybe they were simply still in shock. If so, then they had also drowned out the constant peal of sirens echoing across town, the endless barrage of chainsaws and the shocking little nuggets of life strewn haplessly around town in the strangest of places.

The top of a baby bottle in the middle of a road.

A doll’s head in a toilet bowl.

A dirty baseball in the middle of a spotless yard.

As I have made my way through the destruction during the days following the tornado – some of it searching for my missing daughter who was at St. John’s Regional Medical Center when the tornado hit (she’s safe and relatively unharmed) – I have continued to ask myself how we as a business journal cover such a monumental event. We are not a daily newspaper, though our Web site,, is certainly a tool that we’ve been able to use to provide constant updates and images. Nor are we a television station that can stream information nonstop. We are a twice-a-month publication whose purpose is to connect business-to-business.

Who in their right mind is thinking about business in a time like this?

No one … but we will be.

I know we will because of the people I’ve seen in this amazing city. We of the tri-state area are not a group of people who let despair overtake us. We’re not ones to give up when everything around us seems lost.

We don’t think about how difficult it will be, how much work lies in front of us or how much rubble there is to dig up. We simply put our heads down and do what needs to be done.

Mayor Mike Woolston made that point while being interviewed on some national news stations.

“We won’t let this tornado kick us in the ass!” he said.

The thousands of volunteers who have dropped everything to help their neighbors is testament to that.

The joy of those finding simple items like shirts and trophies is testament to that.

The shoulders lent to those grieving lost loved ones is testament to that.

We will mourn our losses, but we will look to the future. And though it’s hard to think beyond the present destruction, we will do like the rest of our community members and put our heads down and press forward.

Joplin Tri-State Business Journal will continue to serve as a business-to-business publication – and I believe that in this time of rebuilding, we’ll prove more valuable than ever as a tool and resource. w

Chris Roberts is editor of Joplin Tri-State Business Journal. He wrote this column for the May 31 issue. His e-mail address is [email protected]

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