EDITORIAL: Vinson's legacy includes focus on others

Dennis Vinson, president and chief executive officer of Signature Packaging & Paper, died Dec. 1. He was 63.

He leaves behind a legacy not only as a successful businessman but as a visionary leader whose focus on others served as an example for all.

Relocating his business to Jackson from Georgia more than a decade ago, Vinson dug into the community, serving in leadership positions with various organizations, including as a member of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents.

His business expertise made him a resource for many, including Gov. Mike Parson.

"Dennis was a dedicated public servant and strong supporter of workforce development," the governor said. "He will be missed, and we will always remember his commitment to Missouri and the people of our state."

But what set Vinson apart as a leader was his emphasis on inclusion and focus on his company's employees. Named a B Magazine Newsmaker this year, Vinson summed his perspective succinctly: "The basis and the success of Signature is all about the employees. My leadership is there, but they make it happen every day," he said in an interview.

Vinson invited employees to share their insight and searched for ways to improve the business through a simple mantra -- "No one has a lock on good ideas."

His hiring policies offered a second chance to veterans and those who had made mistakes. His loyalty to them came full circle in the company's attendance statistics, with a handful of employees having never missed a day of work and others having perfect attendance over the course of years.

Of course, family was important, too. His wife and children worked alongside him.

Brian Gerau, president of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce, heralded Vinson's commitment to the community in an interview after his death.

"He was very generous to his church, to all civil organizations and both the Cape and Jackson chambers," Gerau explained. "He gave back much more than some people really know and never thumped his chest about it."

Jackson, Southeast Missouri and the entire state have lost an entrepreneurial giant, but Dennis Vinson's legacy of success, inclusion and generosity will continue.