Five tips from a successful businessman: Al Kennickell

RBC Heritage tournament chairman Al Kennickell offers advice for success. 

Story by: Eddy Hoyle

Al Kennickell RBC Heritage
FIRST CHAIR Al Kennickell, whose Savannah company decorated the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse in plaid, is tournament chairman of the 51st annual RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing.

Al Kennickell will serve as the 2019 tournament chairman for the 51st RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing PGA Tour golf tournament. He has been a trustee of the Heritage Classic Foundation since 2015. A native of Savannah, he graduated from the Citadel and went to work at Kennickell Printing Co., the family’s business. In 1981 he became the president, bought the business and renamed it The Kennickell Group. They now lead the world in global print and distribution, and many of America’s leading companies are clients. It was The Kennickell Group that wrapped the Harbour Town Lighthouse in plaid.

Kennickell is extremely active in the business world and the local sports scene. He has served as the chairman of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Savannah Sports Council, the Savannah Shamrocks Rugby Club, the Coastal Georgia Workforce Development Partnership, the Savannah Executive Association, the Chatham Club, and for 12 years, as the chairman of the PGA Tour’s Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf. He is currently a member of The Citadel Football Association and the past president of Citadel Brigadier Foundation and was honored as the Citadel Alumni of the Year. Here are his tips for success.

Keys to Success

1. No excuse not to learn. Kennickell advises to constantly learn. “I spend one hour each morning reading, mostly about my industry. There is no excuse not to learn. Everything is at your fingertips,” he said. “If you’re in sales, you can go on YouTube or Google to learn about overcoming objections or how to close a sale. Virtually every problem has information. Spend time learning about your business.”

2. Control your emotions. Always look at problems with objectivity and be void of emotion. Those “losing it” moments are counterproductive. Kennickell said, “Losing one’s temper and getting emotional equals not thinking. It’s a matter of training and asking yourself, ‘What do I need to do to have the best outcome?’ Have discipline to understand that being cool and calm under pressure gives you an opportunity to step back and analyze the situation.”

3. Get “Zen” and clear your mind. “Every Saturday for 35 years I come to the office where I sit quietly with a blank sheet of paper in front of me. I simply clear my mind,” Kennickell said. “I’m open to creative ideas and I just write them down. The next day I read the ideas and I take what is worthwhile and determine if they are worth pursuing. The trick is to have a quiet place. I guess you could call it meditating.”

4. Sleep on it. Kennickell believes that if you have to make an important decision, unless it’s an emergency, make it tomorrow. “Sleep on it. Your brain works then and processes the information and options. Some people like to make decisions right away to get it off their plate. But if it’s important, wait till tomorrow.”

5. There’s 40 percent left in your tank! “Working 8-5 is for those who want to be average. I see people who enjoy golf spend five hours a week on the practice range, but they won’t put five hours into doing a better job,” he said. “If you want to be exceptional, spend more time doing things that your competition isn’t doing. It will put you ahead of the pack and make for a more fulfilling job and life. And remember, when you’re exhausted, you probably still have 40 percent more left in your tank.”