Mississippi College

MC School of Business Honors Bobby Chain

April 20, 2011

A prominent businessman and strong supporter of higher education, Bobby Chain enjoyed telling stories about the two years he spent as a Mississippi College student.

There were plenty of lessons learned soon after the 18-year-old stepped on the Clinton campus for the first time in September 1947.

With plenty of returning World War II veterans taking classes at MC, college dormitory space was at a premium. Chain was squeezed along with three ministerial students in a tiny room at Chrestman Hall, but still enjoyed the experience. “They kept me straight,” the guest speaker joked at the School of Business Honors Day luncheon on Tuesday.

Years later, one of the ministerial students married Bobby and his wife, the former Betty Green of Hattiesburg.

Chain, who later completed his education at the University of Southern Mississippi and became a successful businessman in Hattiesburg, was warmly welcomed during his Mississippi College visit. The School of Business  honored Chain with its Executive Excellence Award.

The award goes to a Mississippi Business Hall of Fame member whose Chain Electric Company enjoyed phenomenal growth. The firm earned the status of the second fastest growing private company in the Magnolia State. He noted he began Chain Electric in 1955 with his life savings of $2,200.

A former Hattiesburg mayor and ex-member of the state College Board, Chain told hundreds of students and parents that success in the workplace comes with determination, hard work and many sacrifices. While the nation’s economy continues to struggle amid an 8.8 percent jobless rate, Chain said there are many career opportunities awaiting college students today, far more than when he was growing up.

The way to get ahead and get noticed in the business world, he said, is to do a better job than your co-workers. “Never be a clock watcher,” Chain advised. “You will get seen by the right person.”

Chain also urged the School of Business honors students to operate their future businesses by “the Golden Rule,” and build positive relationships with customers so they “know you appreciate them.”

Mississippi College “prepared you,” Chain said. “The rest is up to you.”

Chain has been involved with 20 businesses over  his 56 years in the business world. One of Chain’s companies operates 300 large trucks and in recent days his firm’s crews and equipment helped in Mississippi’s recovery from last Friday’s tornado. The storms battered Clinton, Jackson, Greene County and other areas of the state. About 100 employees helped in the clean-up effort in Clinton and other communities, he said.

A second-string player on the Mississippi College Choctaws football teams back in the late 1940s, Chain is well known off the field for a work ethic that never quits. As he closed his message, Chain urged MC students to “never give up” as they make plans to embark upon careers or attend graduate school.

The event on the Clinton campus attracted some of Chain’s admirers in the academic arena, including former College Board member and Starkville businessman Bryce Griffis, William Carey University President Tommy King and MC President Lee Royce. Chain serves on the Mississippi College Foundation Board, but he’s also  been an active supporter of USM, William Carey and other schools for decades.

At the luncheon at Anderson Hall, MC School of Business Dean Marcelo Eduardo announced other major awards.

Professor Mark McComb, an MC graduate who joined the faculty in 1996, was named the business school’s outstanding professor of the year. It was the second time McComb received the honor. A former MC trustee who served for 25 years and a longtime Mississippi businessman, Harry Vickery was the recipient of the school’s distinguished service award.

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