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Business association members optimistic about 2017

KLRBA officers told their treasurer, Doug Wise, they were coming to his house on Dec. 30th for a board meeting. It was really a surprise party for Wise’s milestone birthday. The surprise was on everyone else. When they arrived, Wise already had the house done, the snacks out, the poolside furniture arranged and the bar open when members and other guests arrived. Pictured, (l-r) are Harold Gilstrap, president and Doug Wise, treasurer, seated. Standing are Debbie Strickland vice-president and Barbara Franklin, secretary.

BY JAMES WILLIAMS

Special to the Monitor

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS —Harold Gilstrap is president of the Keystone-Lake Region Business Association, and is owner of Gilstrap and Associates. Calling himself a “recognitionologist” Gilstrap provides promotional materials to large businesses and small, everything from engraved employee-of-the-year crystal bowls and plaques to aprons, hats and pens with a company’s name and logo on them.

Asked about the KLRBA membership’s expectations for the coming year, Gilstrap said he sensed members were mostly upbeat and looking forward to the New Year. Some businesses were doing better than others, he added.

He pointed out advances during 2016: the arrival of manufacturer Auxadyne (see related story, Page 4A) and Keystone Gifts and Guns in the Dollar General building, previously a large, empty commercial property on Lawrence Boulevard.

The news that the graduation rate at Keystone Heights High School—moving from 73.8 percent to 82.3 percent—will be a big boost for attracting new families to the area as well. There’s even some cautious good news about the area’s lakes.

All in all, the KLRBA president said, he and other members of the business group had reason to be hopeful.

Gilstrap is the only employee in his company and he works from his home. He said when you work for yourself, some years you are in a sustainable pattern where you do the work at a comfortable pace.

Then, a business owner might hit a spell where for whatever reason, he or she gets highly motivated to attract new customers, either to replace dropouts, or to grow the business. He was happy to report several large new clients for his company over the last two years.

As for Gilstrap, taking everything into consideration, he said he is highly motivated to blaze new trails in 2017.

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