Darrell Randle with the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce

Darrell Randle with the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce

On this week's episode, we're sitting down with Darrell Randle, Vice President of Small Business Development over at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. Listen to this week's episode to hear his story and how getting involved with the Chamber will help your business thrive.

Produced by Blue Fish


Darrell Randle: Hi, I'm Darrell Randle. I'm Vice President of Small Business Development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

Marcus Neto: And I am ecstatic that you are on my podcast, because I've been waiting for this to happen for a long time.

Darrell Randle: Thank you, Marcus. Always my pleasure to sit down and chat with you.

Marcus Neto: No man, I really appreciate you making time to come and do this. So, we're going to take a little bit of a different tact with you, just because of the position that you hold, but I do want to know a little bit about who you are. So normally we would get a little snippet of where are you from? Where'd you go to high school? Where'd you go to college? All that stuff, so why don't you give us a flavor of all that.

Darrell Randle: Sure. I was born and raised in PA, Prichard, Alabama. Came up in the Prichard area, moved to the Toulminville area, graduated from Toulminville High School.

Marcus Neto: Okay.

Darrell Randle: Went from there to a little school called R.e.t.s. Electronic Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. Stayed there for a couple of years. Got a job as a power supply technician, believe it or not.

Marcus Neto: You're dating yourself, man.

Darrell Randle: Yeah. Going back.

Marcus Neto: Power supply, back when you couldn't buy one for 30 bucks at any Best Buy.

Darrell Randle: Oh man, I can tell you some stores. We used to repair TVs and VCRs and things that you just throw away now.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Darrell Randle: But yeah, power supply technician for a company called Mitel. Spent about five and a half years in Boca Raton working for them. Went to another school out there called a Broward College while I was out there as well. And then I moved to Dallas, Texas, spent about five years out there working for Mitel as well. Came back to West Palm Beach, Florida, then back to Mobile where I was born and raised.

Marcus Neto: Okay.

Darrell Randle: Yeah. So I moved around quite a bit. Got quite a bit of experience. I was mostly a telecommunications technician and then promoted to a project manager, and then all from there I was in charge of all of their prototypes.

Marcus Neto: Okay, very good. So, I mean, and I want to come back to a couple of other things, but how did you make the switch from that to chamber work? That's a very different career path.

Darrell Randle: That is very different, and that's a funny story. I guess the best way to put it, I was actually working for a company in Mobile. I started my own company, Elite Telephone Services back in the early 90s and I did that for about five years. And I started working for a company called BCM. Well Haysi Matter and Matter, BCM, ATC and then Malcolm Pirnie.

Marcus Neto: Okay.

Darrell Randle: Malcolm Pirnie actually moved. They shut down the office here and moved me to Birmingham. So I had two choices. I could quit my job or I could move to Birmingham.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Darrell Randle: So I decided I would travel back and forth to Birmingham while my family was here. I had two boys at that time and of course my wife, my wife now by the way of 38 years.

Marcus Neto: Nice.

Darrell Randle: Got to put that plug in.

Marcus Neto: Congratulations.

Darrell Randle: Yes, thank you. So anyway, I was going back and forth to Birmingham for about a year. And if you've driven that route for about a year, you realize-

Marcus Neto: That's no fun.

Darrell Randle: That's no fun. It just, it burns you out. So at that point it was like, "I'm getting a job in Mobile or I'm going to go homeless or something, but I'm not going to keep driving up and down this highway to Birmingham." So while I was looking for a job, a couple of people kept telling me, you need to look at this Chamber job. They have an opening at the Chamber. I'm going like, "What is the Chamber?"

Marcus Neto: Right?

Darrell Randle: "What do they do? Why is everyone telling me about this Chamber job?" And then finally, a close friend said it to me one more time. And that gave me the clue that God was kind of tapping me on my shoulder saying, "Hey, how many times I have to tell you the same thing." So I went and looked into it and low and behold, it was a job really helping small businesses. And when I owned my own business, guess what I did? I helped small businesses.

Marcus Neto: Right?

Darrell Randle: I was doing it for free when I owned my own business. So you're going to pay me to help small businesses? You just can't get a better job offer than that. So of course I applied and the rest is history. It was really a perfect fit for me and what I had learned throughout my career. So I really enjoyed it.

Marcus Neto: No, that's really cool man. And I've just full disclosure, I'm on the board for the Chamber, I'm a fervent advocate for the Chamber. They do wonderful things to help our business. And so that's the reason why we keep inviting people from the Chamber to come over, whether it's Bill or, actually I think you're, I correct myself, you're the only other person besides Bill, but I think he's been on twice.

Darrell Randle: Well you've had two of the best on then Marcus. No.

Marcus Neto: Bill twice, is that what you're saying?

Darrell Randle: Yeah, right. Bill twice.

Marcus Neto: No, but I love what it is that you all are doing for Mobile and I'm trying to help. You specifically, are very intentional about helping small businesses. I love what the Chamber stands for as far as bringing larger organizations here as well and the economic development better there. But on almost every single podcast I mentioned this idea that there are, and I think Bill either says 27,000 or 30,000 micro-businesses here in the Mobile area.

Darrell Randle: Yes, okay.

Marcus Neto: And I don't think people realize just how unique that is, one. And two, what that also means for the growing economy that's happening here.

Darrell Randle: Exactly.

Marcus Neto: And those businesses, even if it's a 1% conversion rate to something more, right, because the micro-businesses defined as somebody who maybe has a side gig or a side hustle or something like that.

Darrell Randle: Right, exactly.

Marcus Neto: So if it's 1% that bubbles up to the top, that's still a significant number of businesses that become something more that's like a shop or a business services place or something like that. And you all are at the forefront of helping those people get that step in the right direction.

Darrell Randle: Exactly. We're, we're all about making Mobile a better place to live work and play.

Marcus Neto: Yep.

Darrell Randle: And what a lot of people don't realize, is that small businesses create more jobs every year than other businesses. And that's because they're so nimble. They're so flexible. They're popping up all over the place. They hire their family members, relatives, church members, friends. And you can see that the impact on our economy is huge as far as what small businesses can contribute. So we want to make sure it's easy for small businesses to start and to sustain those businesses. So that's what we're working on. How do we make them easy to start and just really sustained?

Marcus Neto: Right. So I'm going to be a selfish, this is my podcast damn it. So, if you're not a Chamber member and you want to become a Chamber member, call me.

Darrell Randle: That's right.

Marcus Neto: Because we have a Chamber chase team this year.

Darrell Randle: Oh, congratulations.

Marcus Neto: Right? So I was part of the board of directors in a team last year and we decided to go ahead and do our own team. So I do get a little bit of credit for doing that. And just the additional kudos from the Chamber staff, because they love it when we bring them members. So if you want to be a Chamber member, come to me. If you want to advertise in a business you come to me. If you want to see about sponsorship activities, come to me, and I'm happy to share that information with you.

Darrell Randle: Well we thank you for doing that. And that's what makes the Chamber go. And any organization, I talk about this, when I consult with small businesses one-on-one, it takes three things really to make any organization function. And I call it the three legged stool. It's operations, it's finance, and it's advocacy. If you have those three things, whatever you do will work. It will function, it will succeed, but you can't miss on any of those cylinders. And that's what we do with the Chamber. I think we have those three legs or those three legs of the stool down pat.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Darrell Randle: We have advocacy, we have operations, and of course we have financing.

Marcus Neto: I would agree with that. So, but I'm, again, I'm a little bit biased. So now why don't you just as, I don't know, a way of getting started, why don't you talk to what your department is responsible for, and how you help small businesses?

Darrell Randle: Sure. Yes. My department, small business development is one of many departments at the Chamber. And I would say what we do, we could put into four buckets. One would be small business development training. And we do that in a way of, we provide training for everything from sales, marketing, professional development, cybersecurity, you name it, we're marketing. Yeah. You've done some marketing classes for us. Thank you.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Darrell Randle: March marketing madness was one of them as well. So we do all of the types of training that you could possibly imagine that would help a small business succeed. And then, awards and recognition, my department's in charge of that. We do small business development promotions. For example, we do a small business of the month, small business of the year. Outstanding entrepreneur. Oh yeah.

Marcus Neto: Let's not forget that, 2018.

Darrell Randle: Congratulations yeah. Small business of the year, outstanding entrepreneur, Eagle awards, minority business advocate of the year, you name it. Because we know when we promote these small businesses it's going to really help them succeed. Because you know, Mobile's a funny place. They say in most places you have to see an organization or hear about that organization seven times before you do business with them. I think it's about eight or nine in Mobile.

Marcus Neto: It's more than that.

Darrell Randle: It's more than that.

Marcus Neto: And then you have a personal letter of recommendation from the person's pastor and a pint of blood and-

Darrell Randle: Firstborn.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, exactly. I don't think, because when I talked to people about the Chamber, I don't think people really understand just how much you all do for small businesses. They think, "Oh the Chamber's for the big businesses."

Darrell Randle: No.

Marcus Neto: And the truth is, I don't know, the big businesses probably do get some level of care, right?

Darrell Randle: Right.

Marcus Neto: But the truth is, a majority of your activities of your networking functions and all that stuff is geared towards the small businesses.

Darrell Randle: Yes, definitely. The Chamber puts on probably somewhere around 115, 120 events a year. So you can imagine that's a lot of horsepower that we're putting out there in the community. But most of those are geared towards small businesses and small business owners.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Darrell Randle: So you're right, we put a lot into that. 94% of our members are small businesses, so that's no small business to us. That's big business. At 94%-

Marcus Neto: If you don't care for them, there goes 94% of your revenue too.

Darrell Randle: And we actually have close to about 1900 companies that we represent. And with those 1900 companies, somewhere around 100,000 employees. So we're really working hard to make sure that everyone is represented. Everyone is at the table when we look at the prosperity of the city of Mobile.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, no, I love it man. So-

Darrell Randle: Oh, and let me say this too, before I go on. And those other two buckets that we talked about, the other one is minority business development. We do a lot on that, and you guys have participated in some of our Eagle awards, Grow the Lions task force. Some of those things that we do to help minority businesses succeed. We want to make sure that Mobile is hitting on all cylinders. So all segments of our community, we're looking at how we handle that, how we improve the likelihood of success and all of those business segments.

Darrell Randle: And then the last thing we do is, I'll put it under the other bucket. And that's everything. That's referrals, excuse me, matchmakers, it's one on one consulting. It's flyers and brochures and tools that entrepreneurs need to be helpful and successful. So we put all that together to make sure that everything that you need to be successful in Mobile is here.

Darrell Randle: And partnerships is another big thing that we do. We really have partnerships with any organization that brings resources for small businesses. Everyone from SBDC, Small Business Development Center, SBA, Score, the Women's Business Center, SARPC, South Alabama Regional Planning Commission. You name the resource, they're connected to the Chamber. And we want to make sure that our entrepreneurs have access to those resources.

Marcus Neto: No, it's just amazing. So I think it's safe to say that if you are looking at starting a business in Mobile, that the couple $100 investment that it would take to be a member should be a no brainer to you and just put it into your business plan and realize like, "Hey, this is just money that I need to spend."

Marcus Neto: And then I have really found, and I don't know where along my journey I've realized this, but you only get so much. And it wasn't with you all. It was actually with my involvement over on the Eastern shore. Like the amount of time and energy and effort that you put into the Chamber is how much you get out of it.

Darrell Randle: Yes, absolutely.

Marcus Neto: You can't just send your check in and expect that you're going to get anything out of it, that you've got to go to the events, you've got to go to the breakfast, you've got to go to the business after hours and stuff like that. And then after a while that that stuff starts to compound, and you start to make friends, you start to see people a bit more, you start to network, you start to share referrals, those kinds of things. And then, you know-

Darrell Randle: Yeah, those seven or eight times, like we talked about it, someone has to see you and know you to do business with you. That's so true. But don't get me wrong, we're always working on your behalf. If you've never set foot in the Chamber, we have a community and government affairs group and they're looking at issues that affect small businesses, local businesses. We have an international crew that's looking at tariffs and things like that. We're always working on behalf of the small businesses or the businesses in general, here in the Mobile area. But you're right, I think you have to come out, you have to participate to really see the benefits of being a part of the Chamber. And it's like going to church. What difference does it make you join a church, you don't go?

Marcus Neto: Right, but I'm a member.

Darrell Randle: I'm a member of a church. Wow. Big deal.

Marcus Neto: Exactly.

Darrell Randle: No, let's get out and go and make it work for you. And one of the biggest benefits, you touched on it. I just want your listeners to really understand what you're saying. When you network with people on a regular basis, even if it has nothing to do with your executive round table, that's something we do on the third Tuesday of each month from 8:00 to 9:00. When you come out there and you see these people on a regular basis, they're your peers and they're doing things new and exciting in their business, and you're learning from your peers. You don't have to really go out there and make the same mistakes that they've made, right? You're going to learn from their mistakes. You're going to grow from what they learn and they're going to pass that information onto you. Every entrepreneur I've ever met loves to pass on those nuggets of information. The true entrepreneur wants you to understand how to make that work.

Marcus Neto: I would add to that, that one of the things that I'm always looking for is ways to shortcut my growth. I don't want to learn all the hard lessons.

Darrell Randle: Right, not the hard way.

Marcus Neto: I want to learn from the lessons that other people have. And so I've even looked at recently at getting a mentor coach for the business. Somebody that has dealt with a lot of other agency owners and stuff like that. They can kind of shortcut that expansion that we're experiencing. And I haven't made that investment yet, full disclosure. But at some point in time, I do see that as something. But it's the reason why I read so many books, it's the reason why I listen to so many podcasts, and why I go to the events that the Chamber has and stuff like that. Because I want to grow in those areas, my knowledge so that I don't have to make the same mistakes that other people have made.

Darrell Randle: One of the things we do, Marcus, is we make sure that there's a continuum of resources available to entrepreneurs here in the Mobile area. And it starts from everything from concept to mergers and acquisitions. And from a concept a business concept, that's an idea. That's just a person thinking of something they want to do. How do you really put that in a way that can turn it into something that's a viable idea?

Darrell Randle: We've seen it happen startup weekend. That's a good example of a concept come into reality, where you get 75 entrepreneurs, put them in a building for a weekend pitch product-

Marcus Neto: Lock them in.

Darrell Randle: Yeah, pitch some projects and locked in, they're pitching these project ideas and then next thing you know, they come up with the best, the seven, they vote on them and they had come up with the seven or eight best ideas. And they work on those nonstop for a weekend. And guess what? Those entrepreneurs are drinking from a fire hose. They're learning things that it would take you years to learn, had you not gone through startup weekend. And that concept winds up becoming a reality when you look at many of the people that have started a business out of startup weekend, out of an idea. And we've got several that you've probably talked to Bill about, the Cigar Club.

Marcus Neto: Yep.

Darrell Randle: And some others that started on startup weekend and now they're a viable successful business.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, no it's really cool to see.

Darrell Randle: And then you go all the way to the other end of the spectrum and you have things like Emerging Leaders, which you know about as well?

Marcus Neto: Correct. I've gone through that program. I still have the nervous tick and everything.

Darrell Randle: Exactly. Well now there's another program after Emerging Leaders and that's the Ramp program as well.

Marcus Neto: Interesting.

Darrell Randle: Yeah. That's going to be a mentor ship program as well.

Marcus Neto: Well we'll have to talk about that a little bit more. I'm curious as to what that entails, because I have not heard about that.

Darrell Randle: I don't know much about it other than to tell you that, that's something that they're working on right now. And it's something that we hope will be available to entrepreneurs real soon.

Marcus Neto: Interesting. Very cool. Well, so let me run some of these other questions by you that we normally get. So if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom besides joining the Chamber that you would impart to them?

Darrell Randle: Wisdom I would impart to them? I would say learn on someone else's dime. In other words, know your business, know your craft, know your competitors, know your market, know those things before you start your business. And the best way to do that is, let's take for example, I want to open a restaurant. I should either work at a restaurant, and I'm talking about not just work there washing dishes. I mean work there to the point where you want to know how they order their food, how they cook their food.

Marcus Neto: How they make payroll.

Darrell Randle: How they make payroll, all those things that you need to know about a restaurant. How do they get the health inspections? And all those things. And when you learn those things, then and only then should you, maybe you can manage a restaurant, then you are ready to go out and start your restaurant. So learn on someone else's dime. That's one thing that I would recommend, because I know some people that ... You have people that are welders and they say, "Hey, I can really barbecue. I want to start a restaurant." I was like, "You know, that's a good idea. But there are a lot of things you need to learn about starting a restaurant."

Marcus Neto: I'm pretty handy in the kitchen, there is no way in hell I'm starting a restaurant. I know enough restaurateurs. Advertising's a rough business, but owning a restaurant is a rough business.

Darrell Randle: And the other piece of information I would share, I do a lot of consulting one-on-one with entrepreneurs. And the one thing that I would tell them is, I tell them there's three reasons to start a business. It's something you're good at, right? And you know it, you've been doing it a long time, you're really good at it. Something you love, maybe a hobby or something that you just love doing-

Marcus Neto: Which is a good way to kill that hobby. Go ahead.

Darrell Randle: And then the third reason is something you're guaranteed to make money at.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Darrell Randle: And there's no guarantees, but you can at least determine, what are some things that I'm most likely to make money at?

Marcus Neto: Right?

Darrell Randle: And that comes with knowing your market and then a lot of resources out there to help you find out what your market is like.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. That's good.

Darrell Randle: So yeah, those are some tidbits of information I would offer.

Marcus Neto: Now, if you were to look to the business world, is there one person that you look to, and I'm not talking about Mobile, I'm talking about the larger business world. Is there one person that you look to that kind of motivates you, that you're like, "Yeah man, that person's got it going on."

Darrell Randle: Wow, there are a lot of people that motivate me. I'm an entrepreneur by heart. I'm just passionate about helping people. I would think that the person that motivates me, well, who motivated me the most was, I think Sam Walton.

Marcus Neto: Okay.

Darrell Randle: Sam Walton was a guy who was just an average guy next door. He was one of those guys where you really didn't know he was a billionaire, multi-billionaire just by looking at him driving his old pickup truck. And that's why I drive the old Avalon out there. And you just can't look at him and tell. But he was just one of those guys who every day he got up and he gave it 150%. And he just kept going until really, he was successful. He really changed the way a retail sales were done in the United States.

Marcus Neto: For sure.

Darrell Randle: And Bezos-

Marcus Neto: Bezos.

Darrell Randle: Bezos is doing the same thing now in today's time with Amazon. So yeah, it's just those are the guys that I look up to that can really change the way things are done, and they dare to be different and to really have a vision of what could be and to pursue that vision despite people telling them, "No, you should do this, you should do that." Don't listen to the naysayers. Go out there and live your dream and do what you can do.

Marcus Neto: No, that's good stuff. Are there any books, podcasts, people or organizations that you find helpful for again, outside of the Chamber that have been helpful in moving you forward? Or that would be helpful for business owners to move forward?

Darrell Randle: As far as books go, I would think Black and White Make Green. That was a good one.

Marcus Neto: I've never heard of that one before.

Darrell Randle: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: Black and White Make Green?

Darrell Randle: Black and White Make Green. It was a really good book. Talks about basically really ... I deal a lot with minority business development. Talks about going beyond the social norms, working together and looking at different markets. How do you get into different markets that you would normally not be able to get into? That was a really good book. There are a lot of good websites you can go to just to get information on what's going on with entrepreneurs. Believe it or not, I find some good articles on Facebook and LinkedIn, just going through those, the New York Times as well.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. It's just being accepting of or looking for that kind of stuff, needle in the haystack kind of things.

Darrell Randle: Right yeah. You sometimes you have to go through, but it's amazing how a lot of the same people like you, if you put an article online, I'm probably going to look at it. Because you're an entrepreneur, like I'm an entrepreneur, and you think along the same lines as I do. So I would probably look to see, what did Marcus-

Marcus Neto: What did he find interesting enough to share with everybody?

Darrell Randle: Right.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, for sure. What is the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?

Darrell Randle: I share this with entrepreneurs all the time. The most important thing I've learned about running a business is you can have a bad customer.

Marcus Neto: Oh yeah. And you can fire a customer.

Darrell Randle: Well you should. But see a lot of entrepreneurs don't understand that. They think that, "Oh no that's my customer. I can't," but no, you can fire customers. And there are some people that they hurt your business more than they help it. And that's tough for entrepreneurs to understand. And I think that's something that we have to teach them about profit margins and things like that. Really understanding not only your market but understanding your cost of goods sold, your markets, things like that. Because there are a lot of entrepreneurs that get out there and they really are losing money in certain cases.

Marcus Neto: Right. There's a really good book, Book Yourself Solid. And I think the author is Michael Port. I'm going off memory, so if I have that wrong, just search for Book Yourself Solid. I specifically got the illustrated version, because I like pretty pictures. No, but in all seriousness, the illustrated version, it's not illustrated like a child's book, but it's a different format. So you can actually write in it and stuff like that.

Marcus Neto: But what Book Yourself Solid does is it takes you through different things like your positioning, your ideal clients, who are you working with that fits that? Who are you working with that doesn't? How do you find more of the kind that you want to work with? How do you define those clients and stuff like that. And so it's-

Darrell Randle: But you got to really understand your products and services and the market to really do that. And that's what we try and get people to do, drill down to understand, who is the perfect client for me?

Marcus Neto: Right.

Darrell Randle: What is the perfect price for that product so I can get the margins I need to be successful, to be profitable.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Darrell Randle: And that's another thing, a lot of companies look at making money. They look at, "Oh, I made $1 million this year."

Marcus Neto: Yeah, but gross revenue doesn't matter.

Darrell Randle: Exactly. Gross revenue doesn't matter. You know and I know, it's profit, it's profitability. So, it's just a matter of just really sitting down and talking with entrepreneurs about really where they are and where they should be.

Marcus Neto: Right. That's good stuff. So some people may know you from your role and maybe they don't know this about you. I don't know. So I'm about to ask you a question.

Darrell Randle: Sure.

Marcus Neto: How do you like to unwind?

Darrell Randle: How do I like to unwind? My wife and I usually travel quite a bit. We go to the, more than likely the Caribbean Islands, something like that. We love going to the sandy, sunny beaches. At home though, how I unwind, I unwind with a glass of wine and a movie. We will get on Netflix and watch something. Something like a Breaking Bad series, something like that. I'm a low maintenance guy.

Marcus Neto: Right. So a couple more questions. Where have you been to recently in the travel wise that you really loved?

Darrell Randle: Oh my goodness, man. My wife, I think if we were financially independent you probably wouldn't see me in Mobile, if I wanted to stay married, because she'd be all over the place. The last place we went was we went to, oh my goodness. Puerto Vallarta, went to Peurto Vallarta. And then after Puerto Vallarta we went to, Oh my goodness, she's going to kill me. It was in Mexico-

Marcus Neto: Cabo or someplace along those lines?

Darrell Randle: No it was, I'm sorry, Costa Rica.

Marcus Neto: Costa Rica.

Darrell Randle: Yes, Costa Rica.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's not in Mexico, just for clarification.

Darrell Randle: Yeah, you're right. Costa Rica.

Marcus Neto: Very cool and enjoyed that a lot.

Darrell Randle: We did.

Marcus Neto: I hear nothing but wonderful things about Costa Rica.

Darrell Randle: We had a great time in both of those locations.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, I'm curious to go to Costa Rica. I've heard nothing but good things about the ecotourism that happens there. And so I got a flavor of that and Cancun this last or last year rather. And so maybe, not this year, because I think we've already got our trips planned for this year, but next year-

Darrell Randle: Well we have a big anniversary coming up on next year, 2021. We'll be married for 40 years and she wants to go to Europe. So we're planning on going to Europe in 2021. And another thing we have on the bucket list and we have a big bucket list by the way, is a Puerto Rico. I've never been to Puerto Rico and I've always wanted to go to Puerto Rico.

Marcus Neto: That's cool. Yeah. Well, and then I want to circle back to something that you said. I did not realize that you grew up in Prichard.

Darrell Randle: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: And so there's a lot to be said for coming out of Prichard and having attained a level of success, right?

Darrell Randle: Yes. There is a lot to be said. There are a lot of talented people that came out of Prichard. Unfortunately most of them moved away to-

Marcus Neto: That's the brain drain.

Darrell Randle: Yeah, I would see a lot of them in Atlanta and Dallas and Chicago and places like that. And not saying that there aren't intelligent people in Prichard now, I didn't mean to say it that way. I just meant a lot of people that came up with me that were very sharp, very talented people, they didn't have an opportunity here to keep them here. So they moved away.

Marcus Neto: Prichard seems to be undergoing some revitalization of its own. Am I right in saying that?

Darrell Randle: Yes they are. Prichard is challenge with the revenues for businesses are down in the city of Prichard. And I think that's going to be their biggest challenge. And the Mobile Chamber by the way, works hard to make sure that businesses have an opportunity to move in Prichard, Mobile, anywhere in this surrounding area to make sure that all of the municipalities in this area are successful. Because we are the Mobile area Chamber of Commerce, we're not just working for the city of Mobile. That's a mis-nomenclature that most people think when they hear Mobile Chamber of Commerce.

Marcus Neto: No. And I love it because even when I was located over on the Eastern shore, I think at one point in time I was a member and then I let it lapse, and then when I moved back to Mobile, we joined again. But there's nothing that says that you can't be on the Eastern shore at the beach or Dolphin Island or wherever and still be, because let's be honest, the area is large, but the focus, the business focus tends to be here in the epicenter of downtown Mobile. And so, it's important that everybody stay plugged in with what's going on, because the economic development, the things that are happening in downtown Mobile are going to impact all of lower Alabama.

Darrell Randle: Exactly. And the way we phrase it is, so goes Mobile. So goes the lower Alabama, because Mobile is the epicenter of the Southwest Alabama. And I think what a lot of people don't realize, if you ever go to a major city and you look at their downtown and that tells you a lot about that city. And that's why there was such an effort to really raise the level of the downtime Mobile areas. So we could just really start there and build out. And we've talked about this earlier, it's really tough now to go to downtown Mobile and buy some property that's not expensive.

Marcus Neto: Shh, don't say anything about buying property downtown. We don't want to turn anybody on to that.

Darrell Randle: Not yet.

Marcus Neto: Not yet. Give us a couple of years, so you and I can buy up some property.

Darrell Randle: Yeah, we'll get ours first, and then we'll tell them, right?

Marcus Neto: Yeah, exactly. So gosh man, driving up the prices.

Darrell Randle: Okay.

Marcus Neto: No man. I really appreciate everything that you've talked about tonight.

Darrell Randle: And one more thing about the city of Prichard is, we really want to work hard to make sure Prichard gets the business community up and going there. And we've been working with the Prichard Chamber of Commerce. One of the things that we've talked to them about for a long time, and I'm hoping they can finally get this going, is get someone on the payroll for the Prichard Chamber of Commerce, because we worked for the Mobile County, we work for the city of Mobile. I want to make sure that everyone really is getting their share of this prosperity that's going on in this area. As you can see, Mobile's growing. And I see some big things in the future for Mobile, and I want to make sure that Prichard, my hometown, shares in that prosperity.

Marcus Neto: Well and I would just say to you, because I came from not much, right? But as somebody who came out of not much, I think it's awesome that you are in a position where you're actually feeding back. So I just exhort you, keep it up. Because I know that there are people in those communities, whether it's Prichard or Creighton or Woodbridge or wherever, where I grew up. There are people in those communities that need to see somebody who's gotten out, and they didn't get out by, and I'm going to go real stereotypical here, but they didn't get out by playing a sport by being a musician or by selling drugs.

Darrell Randle: And I'm glad you mentioned that, because one of the things that we wanted to do is reach out to some people that are successful and say, "Hey, we want you to give back but we don't want you to give back and give someone a turkey for Thanksgiving. We want you to give back in a way of helping us start businesses in Prichard, in a low mod income areas. By let's put together a fund, a revolving loan fund or something like that, with low interest or no interest rates, where we can start some businesses in those communities.

Darrell Randle: So we're looking at ways of doing that. We're working with a group of pastors right now, looking for how we can get a fund like that started so we can really, not only just give back to the community, but teach the community how to fish. Not giving fish but teach them how to fish.

Marcus Neto: That's good.

Darrell Randle: And that's one thing that we believe strongly in here at the Chamber.

Marcus Neto: Oh I love it man. So keep up the good work. Well tell people where they can find out more about the Chamber.

Darrell Randle: You can actually go online, look at mobilechamber.com, look around our website. You'll be really happy to see that we have 1900 members, over 100,000 employees from those 1900 members that we serve. And we're looking at all types of events that we put on that could really help a small business grow.

Marcus Neto: No, that's really good. And I would just second that, if you're coming to BlueFish and you want strategy on how to help grow your business, one of the very first things I'm going to suggest is Chamber involvement, and that means being a member. So I want-

Darrell Randle: Yeah, one other thing I wanted to mention is one of the primary things that people come to me and they asked me for is more money. And I noticed that when we look at the business plans and their financials and things like that, they really don't need more money, they need more customers. And that's what we do at the Chamber, we try and look at what you're doing and try and find a way for you to get more customers.

Marcus Neto: That's cool. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Darrell Randle: No, that's about it. I just wanted to thank you for inviting me out and let everyone know that the Chamber is here to serve the business community, and if there's anything I can do for any of you guys, just give me a call. You can reach me on my office number at (251) 431-8615.

Marcus Neto: That is awesome. Darrell, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur and advocate for business owners and entrepreneurs. Man, it has been great talking with you.

Darrell Randle: Same here, Marcus. Thank you.

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