2-c masthead
Eastern Shore Chamber 
 Commerce Newsletter

April 2015

Our mission is to make the Eastern Shore the best place to
 Live, Work, and Cultivate Business.

In This Issue
Aprils's Spotlights
March Ribbon Cuttings
Upcoming Events
Recent Events

April's Spotlight

laddragoLad Drago

State Farm Insurance Agent Lad Drago may have taken a roundabout route from his LSU graduation in 1988 to the 2006 opening of his office on the Eastern Shore, but he says his varied work experiences, with everything from major corporations such as Eli Lily and Holiday Inn Worldwide to a small, family owned clothing store, helped prepare him for what he does today.


"The sales and management roles I had with these companies taught me much about the value of good customer service, and that's the most important thing that drives the growth of my business today. When I took over a State Farm office in Daphne from an agent who was retiring, I had just two team members, and now I have six full time and one part-time. I attribute that growth to hard work: taking care of our customers, making sure on the front end that they have the best coverage for their needs, and if they have claim, making sure it's handled the way they want it handled."


Drago's college degree was in advertising, and he still recognizes its importance in his work. "I do a lot of advertising and marketing. It's all about name recognition: I sponsor sports teams at Daphne and Spanish Fort schools and do other community event sponsorships, I do direct mail, some radio advertising, and I have billboards, the business is listed in my church bulletin, I have magnets on my car with my business name-if someone needs insurance services, I want to be the first person they think of for that."


Being an active member of the Eastern Shore Chamber is also important, Drago said. "I'm really committed to the small businesses in this market. It's very important to us all that we have a thriving small business community, and I enjoy being part of it. I put my money where my mouth is, too. If I have customers that offer a product or a service that I need, I'll order from them. Pretty much everything I buy, I try to buy locally."


Drago is committed to that idea even when he might be able to find a better price online. "This is something we struggle with in the insurance business, and it affects many different businesses. There are many online options, 800-number options for almost any product. You may get a cheaper price, but you don't get local support and service. That's important to me as a service provider and as a customer. And that's why I strongly emphasize customer service in my business."


Drago is a past board member for the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce and a past president for the Daphne/Spanish Fort Kiwanis. He and his wife, Heather, have been married for 14 years and have two children, daughter LG and son Matthew.

conniewhitakerConnie Whitaker- Mayor's Prayer Breakfast Chair

Connie Whitaker considers herself lucky to live in Baldwin County.  Connie has a love for the outdoors and when she moved to Daphne eight years ago, she was looking for a home she could walk, run, pedal and paddle from and she was fortunate to find just the spot. She is a graduate of Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.  Connie is also a graduate of Leadership Baldwin.  She volunteers for the Eastern Shore Chamber serving as Chairperson for the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast Committee.


Connie has a passion for serving the community and has been with Bay Area Food Bank for more than 5 years.  As the Associate Director - External Relations of the food bank, Connie has responsibility for fundraising, volunteers, marketing, public relations and agency relations.  The food bank is one of 200 food banks associated with Feeding America and distributes more than 19 million pounds of food through its various nutrition programs to more than 400 church pantries, soup kitchens and other charitable organizations throughout a 24 county service area in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.  More than 1.3 million pounds of food was distributed through 44 partner agencies located in Baldwin County in 2014.

nancygraceMarch Ambassador of the Month


Nancy Grace of Regions Bank in Daphne was selected Ambassador of the month for March 2015. She was selected for attending numerous events and activities; she also served as chairman

 for the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting. 

 A native of Daphne, Ala, Nancy graduated from Auburn University with a major in Marketing. 

 She and her husband Chad Grace have been married for four years; the couple live in Spanish Fort, with their two children, Landon, age four and Natalee, age two.  Nancy has been in the banking industry for 15 years.When not volunteering for the Chamber and working, 

Nancy enjoys spending time with her family.


"On the lighter side" 
Best Hamburger on the Eastern Shore


"Boudreaux's Cajun Grill"


This month's installment of the "Best Burger on the Eastern Shore" took us to Boudreaux's Cajun Grill in Daphne, a new restaurant owned and operated by four gentlemen, who happen to be related. This particular evening I had the pleasure of meeting co-owners Matt Brant and Michael Geronemus. Simply hearing the name Boudreaux's, brings to the senses Cajun flair, and you should definitely trust your senses.


As you enter Boudreau's, your eyes immediately lock onto an amazing view, through the glassed back wall and beyond the deck, of Mobile Bay. Relaxing on the deck with an ice cold beverage is, in and of itself, a treat. The guys have definitely upgraded the facility. Inside it features many tables with great views of the bay, along with an ample sized and active bar area. Our Chamber group had its own private dining area that is available for group rental.


The menu includes a hearty variety of selections to the satisfaction of even the most finicky diners. For lunch or dinner, patrons may indulge in full entrees or mix, share, and sample appetizers with sides of soups and/or salads. Of course, cocktails and dessert are always enjoyable dining accompaniments. The brothers have concocted an authentic blend of Cajun spices that are the essence of their signature flavor and full-bodied sauces to serve along side or as a topping for several of their dishes. Our group particularly enjoyed the Fried Green Tomatoes and Kickin' Crawfish appetizers. Red pepper lovers will be right at home at Boudreaux's, as it is easily accessible on the table as a condiment.


As I've already mentioned, Boudreaux's menu does not lack in variety, and that goes for their burgers just as well. There are seven different, mouth-watering Steakburger mélanges - the Traditional, the Black & Bleu, the Gouda, the Coonass, the Mushroom & Onion, the Bayou Burger, and a special Burger of the Day. Knowing that choosing one means missing out on the others is the only stressor in a visit to Boudreaux's. Unable to cope with the intensity, I asked Matt and Michael to choose my Burger for the evening, and they suggested ­­­­- Can you guess? Ahhh come'on. What else? - the Coonass Burger.


Each burger's foundation is a juicy, ˝ pound Ribeye-Chuck patty, chopped and pressed, specially seasoned, and cooked over their custom-designed Woodfire Grill. All are dressed with shredded lettuce, red onion and tomato, expertly displayed atop a croissant bun with the upper layer gently laid to the side so that one can experience a final, intense surge of anticipation of the culinary delight to be devoured just before that first bite. A signature side item accompanies each burger, and I went with, that which I can never seem to resist, crispy fries.


My Coonass Burger was additionally topped with fried tomatoes, hot capicola, crushed red pepper (Did I mention there's red pepper on the plate as well as the table?), Creole and mozzarella. It was love at first sight! There's no way I would corrupt this burger beauty with table condiments - It was meant to be appreciated in its natural form. Often, when I find something I really like, I run home to my kitchen and grill to try to recreate the dish. This burger cannot be imitated, and this makes me even more eager to try the other styles of burgers. I rate this burger tasting as high level experience. I see myself and several of my good friends hanging out on the back deck, listening to great live music served up by local talent, chillaxin' with a cold draft, sampling great Cajun cuisine, and absorbing the breathtaking view.


I think that Boudreaux's Cajun Grill will turn out to be a great success and provide our local residents and visiting tourists a great dining experience for years to come. The brothers have brought us an exciting combination of fare and atmosphere to savor. Many thanks to the Boudreaux's upbeat staff for their hard work and first-class service.


Again, I like to thank all our membership that joined us at Boudreaux's for the evening. Each month, the discussions of how the Chamber can better serve the needs of its membership are increasingly productive. Thank you to all who have participated.


Join us next month join us at William Stitt's "Old 27 Grill," Wednesday evening, April 15th  (Tax Day), at 5:30 pm.



Join us next month at Old 27 Grill , Wednesday, April 15, at 5:00 pm.
19992 Hwy 181, Fairhope, AL 36532
February Ribbon Cuttings

Raymond James Investment

The Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed new member Raymond James & Associates at the 101 Lottie Lane Suite 4, Fairhope with a ribbon cutting, at the. location. Attending the event were: Front Row (left to right) Heiko Einfeld, Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce executive director; Renae Cobern, Registered Sales Associate; David Williams, First Vice President, Investments;  Michael Turnbough, Senior Vice President, Regional Director; Damon Henderson, Vice President, Investment; Sherry Sullivan, City of Fairhope; Back Row (left to right), Sid Armistead, Vice President, Investments; George Arras, Mobile / Fairhope Branch Manager;  and Andrea Ward, Sales Associate.


Over 100 members from across Baldwin County including all five Chambers of Commerce attended an Open House Thursday evening, March 26th, at the new home of the Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation, located at 819 North McKenzie Street in Foley.


The Foundation was formed in 1998 in memory of 16-year-old Jennifer Claire Moore who took her own life. Moore's family started the foundation with the hope of enabling young people to have access to assistance, understanding and positive reinforcement when they needed it. Students who participate in the Peer Helping program learn a set of core skills designed to help them assist fellow students dealing with emotional, behavioral, social or educational challenges.


Among those present were members of Jennifer's family including her mother, Frances Holk-Jones; brother, Grayson Moore; aunt, Chris Moore; cousin, Melanie Pierce; grandmother, Margaret Moore; grandmother, Fannie Jo Holk and Grandfather, Arthur Holk. Arthur Holk moved into the Foundation building at the age of 1 where he grew up with his 7 brothers. The building has been the home of young boys and now will be a support line for boys and girls across Baldwin County.


Sharing a few words on the history of the Foundation and new building was Frances Holk-Jones, Foundation President. Allison Faircloth, Foundation Executive Director, recognized the heart of the Peer Helper Programs - the over 1,100 trained Peer Helpers in 2014-15, the Peer Helper Program Coordinators across 46 schools and the Education Leaders in the school board and private school systems. Assistant Superintendent of Baldwin County Public Schools, Russ Moore shared about his experiences of seeing the positive effects of the Peer Helper Programs in individuals' lives, the students whom Peer Helpers touch and the Peer Helpers themselves.


If you were not able to attend the Open House and would still like to take a tour and/or learn more about the Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation, contact us at (251) 971-3633 to schedule a time to come see us.  




Upcoming Events

aprilbusinessafterhoursBusiness After Hours

Business after Hours

Please join us for an evening of networking food,

drinks, and fun on Thursday, April 9, 2015 from 5 p.m. -7 p.m.

 at Premier Medical Eye Group

7101 US Highway 90

Infirmary Eastern Shore Building Suite 204

Daphne, Al


Bring your business cards to hand out.  Mix and mingle with other local professionals. 

golftournamentGolf Tournament


The Eastern Shore Chamber Golf Tournament


Friday April 10th


Lakewood Golf Club, Point Clear, Al


11:00 Registration & Lunch and 1:00  Shotgun Start

 Individual: $175, 4-Man Team: $700. 

Contact Christina Hellmich or Liz Thomson at: 251.928.6387

AprileggsnissuesEastern Shore Chamber of Commerce Eggs N' Issues-April

Eggs N' Issues


Guest Speaker- William (Bill) Sisson

President and CEO, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce


Tuesday April 14th  Networking 8:00 am / Program 8:30 am

Daphne United Methodist Church Community Life Center

2401 N. Main St., Daphne, AL


                           $10 Members / $15 potential members

                              Limited Seating, so please call for reservations 621-8222

jobfair2015 Baldwin County Job Fair


2015 Baldwin County Job Fair


Date: April 14, 2015

Time: 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM


Daphne Civic Center,  2603 U.S. Highway 98  Daphne, AL  36526


 Directions to Daphne Civic Center: 

Address: 2603 U.S. Highway 98  Daphne, AL  36526

From I-10:  Drive southbound on U.S. 98 for approximately 2.5 miles and the destination is on your right just south of Whispering Pines Road.


Click link for more information


aprilbestburger"Best Burger on the Eastern Shore"


 Wednesday, April 15th 
 Old 27 Grill
5:00 pm 

Come sit down with staff to discuss challenges confronting your business and how the Chamber can assist you in overcoming those issues. Chamber staff will be conducting a tasting of Old 27 Grill's hamburger entry for the "Best Burger on the Eastern Shore". We invite any all of our membership to join us for the evening!!

aprilmmmMorning Marketing Meeting
Morning Marketing Meeting


Thursday, April 16, 8:00 a.m. 

             Great Marketing Opportunity for Chamber Members

Bring lots of handouts!

New Location: Dickey's Barbeque Pit

6882 Highway 90, Suite G-2
Daphne, AL 36526

 Sponsored by: The Blake at Malbis


aprilypYoung Professionals

Young Professionals Social


Thursday 16, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

 Moe's BBQ

6423 Bayfront Place Drive, Daphne

YPs age 40 and younger are welcome.Great networking opportunity.Potential members also welcome. Call (251) 928-6387 for more information. 
mayorprayerbreakfastMay- Mayors' Prayer Breakfast
The Eastern Shore Chamber's 31st Annual Mayors' Prayer Breakfast 

 Thursday, May 7, 2015, 7:30 am at the Daphne Civic Center. 

The keynote speaker his year is the Reverend Richard Schmidt. 

   Tickets for the event are $40 each or $350 for a table of ten.  
                                                Call 251-621-8222 or 928-6387 to purchase tickets.
Recent Events

 63rd Annual Arts and Crafts
Cash Prizes Awarded to Artists and Craftsmen


More than 230 of the most talented artists and craftsmen in the U.S. exhibited their works during the 63rd Annual Arts & Crafts Festival in Fairhope.  A panel of highly respected and talented judges chose the best of the best from the festival. 

The awards listed below were presented during the Exhibitor's Dinner 

on Friday evening of the festival.


Chamber Award to ESAA



Reciprocal Award from ESAA


   A.B. Word

Jury Award


  Babs Schubl         

State's Choice


  Fred Rettig

Merit Award


  Robert Jones

Merit Award


  Mary Ann Jefferson

Merit Award


  Richard Britnell

Merit Award


  Maurice Cook

Merit Award


  John Armistead



  Carol Jayne



  Vicki Vipperman

Graphics & Drawing


  Leslie Peebles    



  Katrin Wolf

Mixed Media


  Daryl Harwood



  Keith Andry



  Russell Grace



  Ken Tracy



  Scott Hartley



  Peg Martinez

Chamber Award


  Lisa Davin

Chairman's Award


  Karin Connolly

Best of Show


  Tim Peters

marchbah March Business After Hours
 Thank you Re/Max By The Bay for hosting the March Business After Hours. 
We had a great crowd, and we love seeing our members!



marchmmm March Morning Marketing Meeting
We had another successful Morning Marketing Meeting.  Its a great time to meet other members,tell them about your business and learn about theirs too. Thank you also to  Facilities Resource Group for sponsoring the March MMM, Also thank you to Dickey's BBQ for letting us use their business space for our growing Morning Marketing Meeting.  Check out the upcoming events and join us in March.
marchypYoung Professionals

The Eastern Shore Chamber Young Professionals had their YP social on 

Thursday March 19th, at McSharry's .  


The Young Professionals in the bay area meet together every third Thursday to share initiatives, develop their careers, & network. We want to encourage the young members of the Eastern Shore's workforce to participate in local events, learn about the critical issues facing our cities, and develop a sense of commitment to our community.The YP mission is to attract and develop motivated, energetic, civic-minded young professionals working together to create a better place to live, work, and play. 

youthleadershipapplicationsYouth Leadership Program Applications are now available.

Applications are now available for for next year's program, the deadline for applying is Friday, April 17, 2015. Applications can be found at www.eschamber.com or by calling the chamber office 928-6387.



grantawardOperation Round Up Grant Award

The Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce would like to thank  Baldwin EMC for the Operation Round Up Grant Award. We are so thankful for this grant. The Grant will be used to fund the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce STEP's program. 
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