unsweetened cocoa powder
extra-virgin olive oil
pure vanilla extract
Sea salt, for sprinkling
It has been a productive few weeks for your Chamber of Commerce. Events and activities
included the Chambers hosting two great luncheons. The first luncheon we invited Vicki
Horton, Managing Partner of location strategies in Evergreen Advisors’ Corporate Advisory
Practice, come and share insight on how each of us within a community supports economic
development. She also shared great insight on the process used for site selection, which
includes conducting site visits and interacting with residents of the community. Key thoughts
she left us with to remember was that we need to build a quality product from within, we need
to stay focused on the fact that business retention is essential for all communities.
As well, we
need to respect, appreciate, and celebrate all that we have in our community that’s good. We
have some excellent businesses, and they offer quality products and services. Goodyear,
Republic Paperboard, Silverline Plastics, Fort Sill, and others represent many of the great
employment opportunities our community offers. Our banking institutions are amazing, and
they too offer hundreds of jobs. Additionally, we have been recognized for quality and
affordable housing. We have great educational opportunities with Cameron University, Great
Plains Technology Center, and many other quality educational institutes. We also have
recreational opportunities that are second to none, including our many lakes and the beautiful
Wichita Mountains. We have much to be proud of within our community. Vicki certainly left
impressed, and likewise, we learned much from her presentation.
Our second lunch was
equally impressive, although diverse. Dr. Chan Hellman is a professor of social work at the
University of Oklahoma and Director of the Hope Research Center. He has written more than
100 scientific publications and presents at numerous national and international conferences
worldwide. Dr. Hellman’s research is focused on hope as a psychological strength helping
children and adults overcome trauma and adversity. Dr. Hellman just published a new book
“Hope Rising: How the Science of Hope can Change Your Life” with his co-author Casey Gwinn.
Dr. Hellman provided great insight into the application of Hope and its impact on an individual
Our next two luncheons will be held on September 12th with Mayor, Stan
Booker providing an update on the state of our City, and then on October 10th, MG Wilson will
provide an update on the State of Fort Sill. These monthly luncheons are purposeful and
outstanding opportunities for professional development. I highly encourage all looking to
learn more about important issues and topics that directly relate to our community to consider
attending. If interested, simply contact the Chamber and confirm attendance. In the interim,
thank you for all you do to tell the story of our great community.
Brad McMullan is an Emmy Award-Winning Journalist, turned Award Winning CEO & Public Speaker. McMullan is the founder and CEO of bfac.com, an international mobile technology company, that focuses on mobile app development & mass texting for businesses and organizations. Today, bfac.com has 48 U-S states as clients (the actual states themselves are clients of bfac.com) and also the territories of Guam & Puerto Rico. The award-winning technology company is currently used by more than a million people and more than 1,000 companies around the world. Some clients include Toyota, Dairy Queen, Michelin Tires, Ozarka Water, Dell Computers, The Salvation Army, The National Guard, AMR, and Goodyear. The company has clients in all 50 states and owns or operates more than 120 websites including WeddingTexting.com and ResumeApps.org.
McMullan was honored for his business accomplishments by the Business Journal, when he was named to the prestigious "Tech 21" list and was named to the "Top in Tech" list of influential technology leaders. McMullan has also been named the Executive of the Year by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
McMullan is an active volunteer, serving on multiple national boards including the Salvation Army's National Advisory Board and 4WordWomen.org's National Board of Directors. McMullan also currently serves on the Board of Directors of the chamber of commerce for the State of Oklahoma and on the City of Canton Mississippi's Architectural Review Board. McMullan recently served a four-year term on the Madison County Business League Board of Directors. For his extensive community work, McMullan was recognized as the Community Advocate of the Year by New Horizon Church International.
When he is not running his company or working in the community, McMullan can usually be found on the speaking circuit. He was invited to speak at more than 70 events and conventions over the last few years including Google's Start-Up Grind, The Crossing The Bridge Conference on Race Relations, The Conservation District's Annual Dinner, The Keller Williams Real Estate Annual Dinner, The Young Bankers Association Annual Conference, The Manufactured Housing Association Conference, The Oklahoma Marketing Association's Annual Luncheon, The Germantown Tennessee's Chamber of Commerce Annual Luncheon, The Independent Insurance Association of Oklahoma's Annual Conference, The FedEx e-Tech Conference, The Oklahoma Association on Associations Annual Conference, The Mississippi Economic Council's Annual Meeting, The Furniture Marketing Group's Annual Symposium at the Venetian in Las Vegas, The North American Rental Car Association's Convention at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and at the Better Business Bureau Regional Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. McMullan was also the keynote speaker for the Baptist Convention's Witnessing Through Media Awards. McMullan has been featured on NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS. iHeart Media and the Radio people.
Before entering the business world and the speaking circuit, McMullan was known by many as an Award-Winning Broadcast Journalist. McMullan won two Emmy Awards and has five Emmy nominations to his credit. He also has won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award and received multiple honors from the Associated Press.
McMullan has interviewed a number of newsmakers including Former President Obama, Former President George W. Bush, Former Vice President Dick Cheney, the late Former President George H. Bush, the late Senator John McCain, J.C. Watts, Oliver North, Kelly Ripa, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. McMullan’s work has been featured on Real Sports with Bryant Gumble (HBO), The History Channel, CNN, and in a number of newspapers around the world including the Washington Post.
Marcus McEntire is a fourth-generation resident of Stephens County. He attended both Comanche and Duncan Public Schools. Upon graduation from Duncan High School, he attended and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in communication studies, earned a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Virginia. He received a full fellowship from the University of Virginia and his main areas of concentration were the sociology of law, religion and the family.
In 2003 Marcus, his wife, Leigh, and son Ian returned to Duncan - the community they love - to raise their family and expand their young and rapidly-growing business, Distinctive-Decor.com. Their daughter, Ainsley, was born in 2006.
Both Marcus and Leigh’s families are multi-generational Main Street business owners in Duncan. Jiggs and Annette McEntire owned and operated Duncan Wholesale, which most people simply referred to as “Duncan Candy.” Leigh’s family owns Whitten Insurance Agency—the oldest insurance agency in Duncan.
Marcus and Leigh’s small business, Distinctive-Decor.com is a true success story. While Marcus was a graduate student and teaching in Virginia, Leigh started the business as a way to make ends meet. Leigh previously worked as a music teacher and there were no music education opportunities for her in Virginia at the time. The business steadily grew from a $400 investment to a multi-million dollar company. The couple now employs 13 full and part-time employees. Distinctive Decor currently occupies a 17,000 square foot space located at the corner of 9th and Main Street in historic downtown Duncan. Distinctive Decor has been featured in many national publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Country Living, Fine Cooking, In-Style, Cook’s Illustrated, HGTV, Oklahoma Today and Discover Oklahoma. Distinctive Decor has received numerous accolades including Top 10 outstanding Oklahoma entrepreneurs, the National Honor Roll of American Entrepreneurs and platinum sales status with multiple product lines sold in their store.
Marcus serves the Duncan community in many ways. He has been the president of the Duncan Rotary Club and regularly volunteers as a television auctioneer for the Rotary Auction, which clothes over 300 children in the Duncan community each year. He has served on the Duncan Regional Hospital Foundation board for over 5 years, currently as the Finance Chair. This foundation helps our non-profit hospital raise funds to buy needed medical equipment and help those in need to afford medical care costs. Marcus has served on the Advisory Committee for the Business Development Services Program at Red River Technology Center for the past 6 years. Marcus is involved with Duncan Public Schools as well; he has served on the Gifted and Talented Advisory Board and currently serves on the STEM advisory board. McEntire's have attended the First United Methodist Church in Duncan since their return in 2003 after first visiting the church with Marcus’s grandmother. Over the years, Marcus has served as a young adult Sunday school teacher, youth Sunday school teacher, worship leader, liturgist, staff parish relations committee member, finance committee member, church council member, nominations committee member and currently serves as a church trustee. Marcus serves as a Boy Scout leader for Troop 4434, where his son is currently working toward the Eagle Scout rank. He is also currently working as a board member to help establish the Christopher Lane Foundation named in memory of the Australian baseball player.
As part of the annual DC fly-in, another topic briefed was Cybersecurity. As mentioned, several of us
attended from Oklahoma. Locally I attended with Senator John Michael Montgomery, District 32, and
Mark Rodriguez, a local business owner. It was shared that in a recent survey of CEOs, cybersecurity was
ranked as a top threat to businesses in the United States.
Cybersecurity is also considered a high-level threat to the federal government with potential threats
facing military assets, critical infrastructure, and the electoral process. In 2018, there were over 1200
data breaches reported by U.S. Businesses including the exposure of over 400 million records
containing, sensitive personally identifiable information. Of those data breaches, 39 percent were the
result of hacking while 30 percent were the result of data left unintentionally insecure.
Trump recently signed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency Act of 2018 which created the
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to help protect federal networks. In 2018,
Oklahoma Legislature created the Security Breach Notification Act to require businesses that maintain
personal information to inform individuals when the business experiences a potential data security
breach. Legislation filed in 2019 would have amended the Security Branch notifications Act to require
businesses to also report security breaches to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office or face a $50,000
fine. The legislation is now dormant after failing to receive a committee hearing.
The fact remains
many attacks remain, and email remains a major vector. Key reminder presented was we must do our
self-evaluation by asking questions such as have we set the tone at the top of our organizations that
security is important, which includes conducting a risk assessment. Are we prepared for a bad day?
When we are attacked or attempted to be attacked – can we respond appropriately. Within our
organizations, have we practiced our policies for the protection of our information? If you are interested in
learning more about Cyber Security – we have members that are professionals in this area. Please
contact the chamber and we will be happy to refer you to our membership listing. You can also visit our
website at www.lawtonfortsillchamber.com
For more information on these topics, you can go to www.okresearchfoundation.org
Brenda Spencer-Ragland, President and CEO
Senator John Michael Montgomery, District 32
Wow! I did it again, I misspoke. I shared in a recent commentary that my three children graduated from
Lawton Public School. Actually one of my children graduated from Geronimo. My two younger
children graduated from Lawton Public Schools. My oldest graduated from Geronimo and later
graduated from Great Plains Technology Center in their Carpentry program.
Steve reminded me he graduated from Geronimo, which also provided a quality education. As mentioned, he went on to
attend Great Plains Technology Center. I knew he would, as he always knew, dating back to when he
was about four years old that he wanted to be a carpenter. He always enjoyed building things and
especially enjoyed working with wood. I have some amazing pieces of furniture he has built for me over
the years. I enjoy getting handmade gifts from him better than any gift I could receive. Throughout the
years he has built me shoe cabinets, tables and my favorite, a television cabinet he built when he was
thirteen years old. Steve went on to enjoy a nice career working within his trade of choice. He worked
for approximately fifteen years with Hastings Construction. He worked on building cabinets and
hanging doors throughout Fort Sill on the many barracks projects. Mike Hastings hired him as soon as
he graduated from Great Plains Technology Center.
While attending Great Plains he worked at RawWood Furniture in Cache Road Square. He shared he learned how to stain furniture properly while
working there. He had one customer, Mr. Santini, he wanted his stain perfect and he worked diligently
with Steve to get it perfected. What a great learning experience for a young student, and future
carpenter. Steve is now working with Crossland Construction as one of their superintendents. He's
enjoying working on the Eisenhower School Building. I share this story as I have witnessed my child
pursue a career of his choice and truly enjoying working, hands-on, with his talent and gifts.
There are great opportunities to pursue your goals and dreams regardless if it 's college or a trade. I am proud of
my son and his talents, and I am proud he is working in a career he chose. I am equally proud of all in
the trade industry, such as Mike Hastings, that take on young minds and mentor, lead, develop and help
them achieve their goals. Steve has a friend that he has worked with for twenty plus years, Sammy.
Sammy is also a young man that knew he wanted to make a solid living and work in the construction
I am so impressed with Sam for recognizing he had a gift and a talent that he too should
pursue in a career while he could make a difference. Regardless if it is carpentry, construction,
electrical, plumbing or bricklaying, in fact, pick any trade, just know these are good career choices. It
takes all forms of effort, education and works to meet the needs of our community, our nation.
Regardless of the career you choose, follow your passion, your talent, and your dreams. Just know
there's plenty of opportunity for a career in the trade, and there is no better place to pursue your
education and have great support then here locally with our great educational institutes.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to simply pause and say thanks for our many blessings.
With that in mind, I will start by saying I am thankful to be surrounded by individuals that truly strive
diligently to bless this community with their time, talent and support. We have seen strong and
consistent growth in the Chamber of Commerce. Within the past few weeks, our membership director
RL Smith has worked diligently to advocate on behalf of the city and help build the overall membership
in the Chamber. In October, we secured 12 new members. The new members are Lawton Axe
Throwing, Wades Driving School, Legacy Insurance – Watson and Wade Agency, Legacy Family
Chiropractic, Stanton’s Apparel, Diamondback Harley-Davidson, Schwan’s Home Service, Tropical
Smoothie Café (82 nd location), AT& T Portables, Kratominal, and individual supporters to include Dr. Jack
Spencer, and Barry Albrecht.
Mark Brace and his wonderful team at BancFirst served as host for our Breakfast B4 Business and we
had 80 in attendance. It was a great opportunity to network, and it highlighted one more reason we can
be Lawton Proud. The professionalism is undeniable. As well, a year ago with what started with a
meeting with Chris Escobedo, has since turned in to an incredibly valuable group of Apartment
Managers meeting monthly and working together for the betterment of housing within the community.
We also continue to meet monthly with our Hotel General Managers, and we discuss topics involving
tourism, occupancy, and quality of customer service.
I am thankful for our Tourism activities for the
The Lawton area remains strong. For the month of October, we were able to host (7) events/groups in
Lawton, and produced 492 trackable room nights, and 7,667 reported visitors with a potential
economic impact of at least $344,828.47 to the City of Lawton. As you may recall in September, we
hosted the USACI sound off-world finals. There were people visiting our community from 35 states and
2 countries. We know this because they registered and participated in this great event.
This event set
the world record for the loudest car stereo in history with a score of 215 bds. In comparison, a jet taking
off is 120 dbs. The Texas Longhorn Breeders Association held a very successful show. We had visitors
from 29 states. There was over 300 head of longhorns brought in for the show. The world record as
certified by the Guinness Book of World Records was set for the longest horn space for a steer.
It was 11 feet, 1.8 inches. This group was so very impressed with the efforts of the Coliseum they have already
booked to return to Lawton next year. As well another proud moment was the Perfect Timing Pig Sale.
The event held here in Lawton was the largest grossing pig sale in the nation. Todd Kenny’s event had a
record-setting sale with sales grossing over $1,750,000.00. An individual pig sold for $150,000.00. The
buyers came to Lawton from 13 states to purchase pigs. Also, we received word that the Chamber of
Commerce received the highest accreditation ever, which is five stars. We are recognized as one of
three chambers to receive this level in Oklahoma, and top 3% in the nation.
We could not host these events, nor would we see the success we have seen if it were not for the great
teamwork and support of this community. We have much to be thankful for in this community. The
board, staff, committee members and I and my family wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, and when
you sit down to enjoy your meal, please know I am thankful for you and all you are doing to support our
wonderful community. We are blessed in many ways, and I ask you to seek every opportunity to share
our blessings with others.
It’s not uncommon for me to run into some amazing individuals doing amazing things for our
community. Recently I had some time to visit with an outstanding citizen of Lawton. Like me he came
to Lawton as a result of his career with the Army. This young man just happened to be a Soldier, or as I
say, “a warrior for our freedom.” I am referring to First Sergeant retired Tom Abrams. Or, as we refer
to at the Chamber, our Redcoat Chair.
While talking with Tom, I discovered he is a veteran that served in the U.S. Army, for more than
twenty years. I continued the conversation and asked after he retired what did he do, since I
had known him to be an active volunteer in the community. He shared he used his skills as a
Soldier to transition to Goodyear where he worked as a scheduler of Cut Stock and produced,
for 16 years. He also shared he appreciated the opportunity to give back to the community,
and that was essential for him, as he wanted to contribute to the betterment of Lawton Fort
Tom went on to serve as the United Way on the Finance Committee for 6 years, the
United Way as Community Investment Program Team Leader for 8 years, including his time as
Vice-Chairman for 1 year. He served as Chairman of the Pastoral Council at Holy Family Catholic
Church for 9 years, and as Eucharistic Minister and Lector for Holy Family Catholic Church. He
visits the sick in the Hospital for Holy Family Catholic Church, and he visits Nursing homes,
bringing Holy Communion to Catholic residents.
If that is not enough, he is a Member of the Knights of Columbus, Chairman of the
Lawton Redcoat Ambassadors and dedicated volunteer to include serving on the Board of
Directors of the Lawton Food Bank.
I find the contributions of Tom quite remarkable. His passion and commitment to
serving others did not stop when he retired from the U.S. Army. He is a proud Soldier. He is a
proud ambassador for the U.S. Army, and I find him representing the core values of our
community, our citizens and the military. Tom’s amazing service makes me proud, and I believe
there is no better model of an American Patriot and community Leader, a dedicated citizen than
Tom Abrams. I share this about Tom, as I think he is one of many great citizens we have in our
community. I believe we are blessed to have individuals such as Tom that wake up daily
wanting to know where they can volunteer, what can they get involved with to make Lawton
Fort Sill the community of choice of many.
If you know of someone that wants to get involved
with our community, there are so many opportunities. I encourage you to please feel free to go
to our website and look at the many events and the many organizations in which you too can
volunteer. I am proud Tom came to Lawton to serve on Fort Sill, and Tom chose Lawton as his
home upon retirement. If you are new to the community or looking to do something after
retirement – consider volunteering. It’s a great way to stay connected, and its impact on the community is phenomenal.
If you are volunteering in an organization, or just your time helping others, thank you. We are a great community, largely due to our amazing citizens.
Recently I have enjoyed the opportunity to read several great books. Most were for assigned classwork.
I have read a few about leadership, being an agent of change, reflection and the importance of self-
reflection. I also read a letter I received that referred to be the Bette Davis of the Chamber. At first,
being a little naïve perhaps, I thought that’s kind.
They are perhaps complimenting my eyes, since Bette
Davis was known for her beautiful eyes. I later thought, perhaps they are referring to me as Bette Davis for
my age. I finally just gave up on trying to sort out why someone would take the time to write me a
letter and not explain what they were thinking or provide enough logic in the letter that would allow me
to sort it out. Many may consider me naïve. They may do this based on my faith. Some don’t believe in my faith, and that’s okay.
I don’t need people to take on my faith, but I do want to work for and with
people that share the same values as I do. After a year of being at the Chamber, I still believe that’s why
I am here. I truly believe the 929 members that have invested in the Chamber, and in this community
are striving to do something positive for the community. Our Chamber members want to see Lawton
prosper and grow. They want to welcome others to our community so they too can see what we see.
Lawton is perfectly located in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains.
There is so much charm, beauty,
and history to be discovered. I stand proud of our beautiful region, and I ask that you please do the
same. Share the news of all the good things we have in Southwest Oklahoma to enjoy.
Speaking of being proud, we need to share what we are proud of as well. For me, I have two
grandchildren that attend Lawton Public Schools. Both are excelling.
Spencer and Waylon both are
good students with good grades. I am proud of their progress in school. I am also proud of Lawton
Public School. My three children graduated from Lawton Public School, and all three are doing just fine
in their chosen professions. When you hear of individuals looking to move to our area, share your story
of success both with the education, and being able to find quality and affordable housing, quality
medical, and yes fantastic places of worship.
As well, there are incredible opportunities to get involved. If you like to hunt, fish, volunteer, dance, sing, act or just take on additional educational
opportunities as an adult, there is nowhere better than Lawton, Oklahoma. Share the good – this is our
community, be proud of it and know it’s okay to be boastful. Also, I recently read the book “What Got
You Here, Won't Get You There" by Marshall Goldsmith.
Overall, a pretty good read and it fits into the
leadership/ Self-Help category. A key takeaway is a fact we cannot undervalue the importance of Self-
Awareness - what is unknown to us may be well-known to others. This leads me to always remember, I
know things about myself others know, I know things they don’t know, and they know things about me
that I don’t know/see, and somethings are hidden/left undiscovered by me or others…
As we get more involved in our community, we will learn things about others, and we will learn facts versus fiction. I
would challenge all of us to attempt to learn and share facts about all situations. We can do this by
getting involved in the community, and then we can better share information to all looking for a new
home. In 1992 I chose Lawton as my home, now in 2019, I can honestly say it was a good choice, one I
would certainly choose again.
Our next scheduled luncheon is coming up on November 14. We will have speakers providing and
update on Tourism and Agriculture. If interested, visit our website at www.lawtonfortsillchamber.com
We are receiving positive feedback reference the luncheons and I am happy to report our
attendance has been solid. Thus far, we hosted the state of the city, state of Fort Sill, update on
the tragedy assistance program educational support, and the upcoming lunch which Lawton
Public School will update all in attendance where the district is with hiring our new
We are also excited to partner with Leadership Oklahoma and offer another great opportunity
to hear from a subject matter expert on an incredibly important topic - Reflections from the
Border. Dr. Dan Molina is a medical doctor that served with the US health Services
Commissioned Corps. Dr. Molina was deployed to the U.S/Mexico Birder to provide health
services to the immigration population. He will offer his reflection on what’s happening Dow
there and educate us on this often-overlooked branch of uniformed services. I believe the
luncheon and this great guest speaker will prove to be very informative. It’s a topic that we
are all interested in learning more about.
So, mark your calendar for November 1, 2019. For
more information visit leadershipoklahoma.com. The chamber team is working hard to
provide updates on topics that matter. If there is something you are interested in, please let
me know. We are here to support our community, we call home. We offer these luncheons
as a commitment to the community, a way to share information and seek insight on things that
are important to our community. Please don’t ever assume we have all the answers or that we
have all the topics fully planned out. We don’t. We are eager to support our community by
providing up to date information from the subject matter experts in the specific topic we are
The Chamber of Commerce is growing. We continue to receive new members,
which is exciting. We are proud to support those that have invested in our community and are
willing to roll up their sleeves and work for the betterment of our great community. We are a
membership-based organization, and we are very proud of our members, the board and the
staff. Working together, we can and will make a positive impact on the community. Please
consider joining us at one of our many luncheons or drop in for a visit and share your thoughts
on what we can do to better serve our community. We are truly only here to do what’s best for
the community, and we are honored to be allowed to serve as your Chamber of Commerce