J. Pat Beaird Award 2020
Morris & Dickson Co. to be honored at virtual event
The 2020 J. Pat Beaird Industry of the Year Award will be presented to a company that has operated in Shreveport for 175 years: Morris & Dickson Co., according to Shreveport Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Tim Magner.
The Chamber website describes the award as recognizing a corporate entity from the Greater Shreveport area for outstanding business achievements.
“J. Pat Beaird was a gentleman who was very involved in the Chamber back in the ’40s and 50s. He left us a legacy that we use every year to recognize a business that we call the Industry of the Year, a business that is impactful in the community. It is focused on the business side of production and creating jobs and economic growth but is also impactful in the community as well.”
Magner said the Chamber’s senior council of past chairmen selects the winner from pool of nominated businesses. “Nobody applies for this. This is something where we look at the range of companies in the area. Part of the reason why we rely so heavily on the expertise of our past chairmen is because they have a real appreciation for the large and impactful players in the community. It’s a great conversation. We talk a lot about what the organization means to the community. While the criteria are very broad, the number of companies who are able to be included in that conversation is often a pretty rarified group.”
This year’s winner, Morris & Dickson Co., is the second oldest business in Louisiana, only surpassed by Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans. “That kind of longevity is almost literally unheard of,” Magner said of the 175-year-old company. “To be here in Shreveport and family-owned for that time says a lot about them as an organization and as a company. Then you look at what they do. Especially in this time of the pandemic, they do pharmaceutical distribution. They have been critical in being able to keep the medical supply chain for medicines growing.”
Magner said their selection was particularly important due to the pandemic plaguing the world in 2020 for the company’s work in distributing medicines for the treatment, testing and the search for a vaccine.
Paul Dickson, president of Morris & Dickson Co., said the firm is proud to be the 2020 recipient and thanked the Chamber for the honor. He noted that, although the company serves an 18-state area, the local recognition is special, “and northwest Louisiana is our home. Being recognized at home is most rewarding. This is especially important as so many people locally are to be congratulated. Approaching 180 years in our community, M&D and the additional businesses that it has spawned, is fortunate to be able to employ more than a thousand people currently and has supported many thousands of local jobs throughout its history. So many in our community have worked at M&D or have had a family member or friend work at M&D. Each person who has worked to build, support and sustain M&D through the decades has the Dickson family’s gratitude and should share in the pride of receiving this award.
Thanks to COVID, the annual luncheon celebration of the award winner will take on a distinctly 2020 flavor. “As is the phrase that pays, we’re going to pivot,” said Magner. “We’re calling it a hybrid event.
We’ve partnered with a number of restaurants in the community to provide an opportunity for folks to be able to watch the event. We’ve partnered with Superior Steak House, Ralph and Kakoo’s, and Flying Heart Brewery.”
Magner said if people want to have a traditional sit-down lunch and watch the presentation, the event will be streamed to those locations. They will be socially distanced and capped with the number of attendees permitted within state guidelines.
“We’re also going to broadcast it on Zoom so folks will have an opportunity to watch it from their office if they want to get everybody together and have their own lunch, or if folks want to watch it from home,” he said.
In addition to the recognition of Morris & Dickson Co., on the agenda for the ceremony will be a special guest speaker, Spencer Stone. “Spencer was one of the airmen who thwarted the attack on the Paris train a couple of years ago. It was made into the ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ movie. We’re going to pipe him in live and have an opportunity to engage with him,” according to Magner. He said to keep it interesting, they had a couple of other surprises in store on the program.
“We’re hoping to engage people. We recognize this is a different type of year, but it’s one that we think the show must go on. We’re going to make the show go on in what we hope is both an appropriate and compelling fashion.”
“The 15:17 to Paris” is a 2018 American biographical drama film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Dorothy Blyskal based on the 2016 autobiography “The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes” by Jeffrey E. Stern.