Here comes Catfish, bigger than life, shirttail loose, his size-14 shoes struggling to contain his feet, which are in step with keeping on the go.
Just seeing him begs the question, how can you succeed without a firm foundation? He casts a large shadow – he’s a big man, you know – and has a good heart and a smile as wide as the nearby Moon River.
This is Kevin Jackson: a solid citizen and successful businessman who puts family first, reaches out to the less fortunate, and wants to see Savannah prosper. He’s civic-minded, he’s always giving back, and he is always on the stump for patriotism, our flag, and the values of football – a game that has served him well.
That said, don’t ever pick a fight with this former Bulldog defensive tackle (letterman in 1980-82). He ain’t an old man yet. He doesn’t maintain his playing weight, but, although he never looks for trouble, you just don’t mess with Catfish. He has a few battle scars.
“I see all the news about football players getting in trouble, and I remind myself that it is hard for that not to happen,” he was saying at the Hyatt outdoor deck, which offers a view of the Savannah River. A big cargo ship slides by, a striking scene to take in as conversation picks up speed.
Jackson and his wife, Libby, are socializing with Fuzzy Zoeller, the 1979 Masters winner, and John Patterson and his wife, Jennifer.
As Jackson reminisced, as he is wont to do, he offered a toast to Vince Dooley: “He kept giving me chances. Never would’ve made it if he hadn’t let me back on the team a few times. That is why I appreciate him so much. He could have written me off so many times.”
Zoeller told a joke and the conversation is off and running – who can top Fuzzy? Well, actually, nobody – and Jackson didn’t even try.
“Man, I’m just enjoying the fun,” he grinned.
Fun is as much a part of his life as anything, but Jackson, with a work ethic born out of his football experience, is one of Georgia’s most successful former linemen. You learn about his company, Envirovac, and understand if he stood up on a chair and shouted, “Let’s hear it for the guys from the trenches!”
For those who know him, Jackson has to be the entrepreneur of the year. He took Envirovac from a dream to a $50 million company. When he started out, he had one vacuum truck, one hydro blaster, and three employees.
Nobody on his crew could outwork him. He was doing the marketing by the seat of his pants, but who could turn down the smiling, gregarious, and engaging Jackson?
He was the type you enjoyed doing business with. He was Herschel Walker’s teammate, he wore a national championship ring, and if you had industrial waste in need of elimination before environmental police handed out citations, then a call to Jackson and Envirovac was your next move.
Jackson enjoys talking business, but also his campus days, which he reveres: “We all made some big plays in football, but what we came away with was the overall experience. The fun of being a team and winning as a team.”
Although he had a degree in business education, he wound up one day in Savannah “flat broke” and not sure how he would pay for his next meal.
Taking a routine sales job, his natural sales personality would soon move him to the head of the class. After he was the leading salesman for a couple of companies, he decided to go out on his own. Before long, he was making a million-dollar loan to grow and sustain his business.
It would be difficult to find a Georgia lineman with a degree and who heads a company as big as Envirovac. No lineman in the Dooley era has been more prosperous. Jackson has made it by working hard and providing service with a smile, proving that the old-fashioned way still works.