Business

Coast businesses with over a century of history have been sold — but aren’t going anywhere

What’s happening this year at Cruisin’ The Coast

Eight days. Tons of cars. See what's happening at this year's Cruisin' The Coast.
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Eight days. Tons of cars. See what's happening at this year's Cruisin' The Coast.

The names of these longtime Coast businesses remain the same while selling the companies gives the former owners the opportunity to fly and explore and Cruise.

Bailey Lumber & Supply Co. was sold earlier this month to US LBM Holding, a distributor of specialty building materials headquartered in Illinois. The company has more than 250 locations in 31 states.

Bailey’s retail locations in Ocean Springs, Bay St. Louis, Brandon, Jackson and Meridian continue to operate under the Bailey Lumber name.

Sherwood “Woody” Bailey Jr., whose father and uncles founded Bailey Lumber 72 years ago and then opened in Gulfport in 1951, said the family has mixed feeling about selling the company.

“It was an opportunity for our family,” he said. “We felt it was an even better opportunity for all our employees.” The 225 employees are staying on the job, he said, and Richard Kosta will remain with the company as the new president.

S&S Trophies in Biloxi, owned by the Sisson family for 46 years, was sold April 1 to Biloxi resident Sonya Wroblewski, who said she’s worked at the business on Rodenberg Avenue for about eight years. She plans to update the building and invest in modern equipment, while keeping the name and the service and doing most all the engraving in-house.

“We definitely had to think about what’s best for the business,” said Keith Sisson, whose grandfather and father founded S&S Trophy in Biloxi in 1972. “It means a lot to me that we were able to find a buyer who knew both my dad and grandfather,” he said.

Time for Cruisin’

Now that Bailey Lumber is sold, “I’ll spend more time with Cruisin’,” said Woody Bailey. While president of Bailey Lumber, he also served for the last several years as executive director of Cruisin’ The Coast and helped grow it into the largest special event in Mississippi.

Cruisin’ started in 1996 and by 1998 it had a $3.6 million economic impact during what had been a slow fall tourist season. The 2016 impact had grown to $28.6 million.

Bailey, who practiced real estate law for three years in Jackson before returning to the Coast, said he is grateful that the family business was such a good organization that it let him take time to put together Cruisin’ each year.

This year’s event is Oct. 6-13 and Bailey, who has been too busy to shop, said maybe now he’ll have time to find his own classic car for Cruisin’.

Fly away

The first trophy he ever made was for himself when he played on the S&S Trophy baseball team, Sisson said. As part of the sale of the family business, he and his wife want the same for their son.

“Ashley and I very much want our son Jack’s first Little League trophy to come from the business that his grandfather and great-grandfather started,” Sisson said.

The family will divide their time between Biloxi and Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Sisson was part owner in S&S Trophies and is co-founder and chief marketing officer of Southern Airways. The commuter airline started in 2013, and with the February acquisition of of Hawaii-based Mokulele Airlines, Sisson said Southern has become the largest commuter airline in the 50 states. Just as they did when Southern acquired an airline in Pennsylvania, Sisson said he will go to Hawaii and integrate this new airline into the operation of the company.

“Mississippi’s home,” he said., but the Big Island of Hawaii has the Mississippi Coast feel to it.

His mother, Debbie Sisson, operated the shop for years and continued after his father died, Sisson said. She recently married Dale Greenwell, a Coast historian and retired anthropologist, and Sisson said they plan to explore the Grand Canyon and continue to be active in the local community.

“We had the unique opportunity to play such a special role in the lives of so many families,” Sisson said. “From the first youth sports trophy that a child receives to the retirement plaque awarded to the executive commemorating a lifetime of service, there is a good chance that one of our products is on display inside an overwhelming majority of local households.”

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.
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