Challenges and Miracles: Seeing God at Work in Both

Steel City John Sims with company truck

Faith at Work

The Sims family of Inverness has had their share of challenges and miracles. They credit God for growing their faith in Him through both.

During his 22  years of military service, John Sims spent much of his time separated from his family fighting for our country oversees in war zones like Afghanistan where he was shot down in a deadly helicopter crash. “I struggled with my faith after spending 3.5 years in the Middle East and losing eleven friends/teammates. I was angry at God. It took years to work through that and still more years and the help of a local Pastor, Brandon Ball (Church Unlimited), to work through all the ‘religion’ that clouds what is actually the very simple message of the Gospel.”

Chopper Crash Photo
John Sims served in the Army for 22 years. Although he survived being shot down in Afghanistan, he lost 11 teammates.

That simple message is something he and his wife CJ are passionate about sharing. “Our job is simply to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He came to earth and was sacrificed for our sins,” Sims explains adding, “God’s requirement is perfection. We can never achieve that. However, the simple message is that He loved us so much, has so much grace, that He gave us a way to still enjoy eternity with Him. Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ He didn’t say, ‘It’s 99% finished, the rest is on you.’” John credits his wife CJ for encouraging him in his faith by living out hers. “I don’t think CJ has ever waivered in her faith. Despite years of pain, seizures, my being gone…It’s pretty amazing.” For 20 plus years CJ battled a seizure disorder, migraines and vertigo. Finally in March of 2020 she received a clear diagnosis, underwent brain and inner ear surgery and is seizure free.

Sims with grandkids
John and CJ Sims enjoy living and working close by to their grandchildren Linley and Austen plus Catherine who is not pictured.

After moving 31 times in 30 years, the couple returned to CJ’s hometown of Birmingham in 2015. John began helping a local lake real estate brokerage grow from two states to 30. “The access to those business minds and entrepreneurial spirit awakened a desire to build something of my own.” Personal experience led the Sims to choose pest control as the business to build. “We hired two companies for mosquito control and were not impressed. The service charges kept coming but so did the mosquitoes. That’s where I found both my interest and a need I could satisfy within my local community. I knew I could do better, so I went to work.” Sims completed all certification requirements for household and commercial pest control and started Steel City Mosquito.

“I built a business model around keeping prices more affordable than other companies while ensuring the effectiveness of our services are second to none. We always keep in mind this is a discretionary purchase,” says Sims. “Yes, mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are annoying and can be dangerous; however, controlling them doesn’t occupy the same place on a family budget as food, clothing, and shelter. Oh, and we don’t do contracts. We have to earn it with every service and customer interaction.” Based on this model, Steel City Mosquito is serving hundreds of area families and the Sims can clearly see how God continues to be at work in their lives.

-Laurie Franklin

Steel City John Sims with company truck
John Sims is passionate about serving families in our community. Learn more about his business at



flier cedar run 5k 1 1

On April 30, 2022, in conjunction with St. Elias Lebanese Food Festival, the ‘9th Annual Cedar Run 5K & Cedar Shake Fun Run’ will take place. All proceeds from the run for three years will go to Just Keep Smiling. Consider signing up to participate, whether it is running or walking in the 5K or Fun Run, creating a team or securing a sponsorship with a wide range available. Invite your company to support the JKS mission. Details can be found at

Regardless whether running is for you, make plans to enjoy and support the St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival on April 29-30. There are other opportunities for supporting Just Keep Smiling as well. Just Keep Smiling ‘Auction & Appetizers’ on Thursday, September 29 at Regions Field is a great night for a great cause. Visit for more on the 501(c)3 and these events.


YBL Logo

Business Today

Former major league pitcher and World Series Champion Dan Naulty will be in Birmingham to share his incredible story at the Young  Business Leaders (YBL) Spring Breakfast on May 6 at The Harbert Center. Naulty was a major league pitcher with the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees. With the Yankees, he played with the likes of Mariano Rivera, Roger Clemens, and Derek Jeter. In 1999, they won a World Series, defeating the Atlanta Braves in a four game sweep.

Dan Naulty
Attend Young Business Leaders’ (YBL) Spring Breakfast with MLB Pitcher and World Series Champion, Dan Naulty. Friday, May 6, 2022– 6:30am – 7:45am (Serving line opens at 6:00am) at The Harbert Center, 2019 4th Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203.

It was after those events that his story gets really remarkable. Come and hear his journey through professional sports and his battle to be a man of integrity. Tickets are $20 for individual seats and $150 for a table of eight. To purchase tickets, click here.

The mission of Young Business Leaders (YBL) and Women Business Leaders (WBL) is to transform the marketplace by winning men and women to Christ, building them in their faith, and sending them out locally, nationally, and internationally for God’s glory. If you are interested in building community, getting involved with a small group, or being connected with a mentor call 205-776-5450 or visit or †

YBL Logo


Faith at Work Thomas Waters Bike MS Group Shot

Faith @ Work

“My mission is to be there for people in life’s toughest moments. And sometimes, it’s insurance,” Thomas Waters of State Farm says. Waters has served Alabamians through State Farm Insurance since 1991. He strives to make each client feel seen and valued through every interaction. “You only get one chance to serve people during their toughest moments,” he says. Waters believes that the value of a personal relationship has been highlighted since the COVID-19 pandemic began. “A personal relationship is second to none,” he adds. His goal is to draw people to the office by making them feel valued and seen. Waters seeks to reach people and change lives for the better through his business. During a discernment Bible study he went through in his 30’s, Waters decided he wanted to use his business as more than just a way to make a living. He wanted to use his business as a ministry and be a light in the city. 

Save the date for Hammies in Hoover happening at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex on November 14! All skill levels are welcome. Learn more at

Reaching the Community. Waters strives to use what he is passionate about to reach those around him. As a graduate of Birmingham Southern College (BSC), Waters is passionate about music. He is currently a part of a southern gospel quartet called Meet Southern Harmony. The members all met during their years at BSC when they sang in the choir together. “Our whole goal is to communicate the grace of God to our audience,” Waters says. As a business owner, Waters sponsors Jazz in the Park. Over the last several years, he has connected with people by enjoying life through jazz music. “I’ve discovered that music is one of the few things that erases all the biases and gives a solid thing to rally around and enjoy no matter your race or social status,” Waters says, adding, “To me, it’s kind of a spiritual thing to see a crowd of folks that have seemingly little in common other than the music coming together.”

Faith at Work Thomas Waters Bike MS Group Shot
Waters and his State Farm cycling team have raised nearly $60,000 to help those battling MS.

An avid cyclist, Waters also sponsors Hammies in Hoover as an avenue to draw families together. On November 14, 2021, families are invited to join this bike ride and spend quality time together. “We hope that by supporting it, that we can aid in growing this event to continue creating a sense of community and an opportunity for families to enjoy the outdoors,” Waters says. Hammies in Hoover will take place at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex. The trail is designed for all skill levels and promises to be a fun day for the whole family. Learn more at Waters also uses his passion for cycling each year to ride toward a world free of Multiple Sclerosis during the annual Bike MS: Tour de Beach. In the five years since he began participating in this fundraising event, Waters and his team have raised nearly $60,000!

mission makers state farm changed lives Thomas Waters
Thomas Waters is seen above with Neal Boley, Wanda Boley and Josh Beck(left) preparing a delicious meal to serve to those in need in the Birmingham area. Changed Lives Christian Center opened in 2010 and is located at 1308 26th Avenue North. Visit to learn how you can become a volunteer.

Giving Back. Waters served on the board at The Foundry and during that time learned about the Changed Lives Christian Center (CLCC). Since 2014, Waters and his team have served a meal every single third Tuesday each month. Waters’ business pays for, cooks, and serves the meals. “We estimate that since 2014, we have served over 7,000 meals.” If you are interested in learning how you can partner with CLCC, visit

A Word to Fellow Business Owners. When asked what encouragement he would give to other business owners who are considering using their business as a ministry, Waters responded, “Don’t be afraid. The rewards can be exponential.” He adds, “That doesn’t necessarily mean financial. But the sense of worth it brings you… it gives you a sense of purpose beyond the business.” He adds that when this happens, the people you serve feel the difference. “This is where tremendous satisfaction occurs as a business owner.” 

To learn more about Thomas Waters State Farm, visit or call 205-879-1988.

-Melissa Armstrong 

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Chick fil A Brookwood Team Outside

Faith @ Work

Jerry Cotney’s career as a team member with Chick-fil-A started the same day the Spicy Chicken Sandwich released in 2010. Cotney brought with him to Chick-fil-A several years in purpose driven work- including helping Soles4Souls get started. The non-profit which collects new shoes and clothing for people in need worldwide. It was a career change Cotney didn’t expect but felt led to do. 

Jerry Cotney at Chick fil A
Jerry Cotney and his team help us spread Good News every month!

In 2016, Cotney was selected to be only the third Operator in the now 47-year history of the Chick-fil-A Brookwood Village location. “It’s been a joy and privilege,” says Cotney, about serving at the helm of Alabama’s very first Chick-fil-A franchise (circa 1974). He  adds that the role of an operator at a mall versus a free-standing restaurant is different. “I’ve discovered how essential culture and engagement is.” 

What drives Cotney as a Chick-fil-A operator? “My values and my faith. We’ve been able to build a team that is dedicated to serving well and stewarding well and focusing on not just growing the business but growing individually and collectively.” In 2019, Cotney’s team set a record for the highest guest satisfaction the location had ever seen and was deemed an Elite Food Safety Status restaurant. Chick-fil-A also bestowed on the team the highest award given- the Symbol of Success and was named as “Readers’ Choice” by Birmingham Christian Family readers this summer.

Chick fil A Brookwood Team Outside
Jerry Cotney and his Chick-fil-A team were voted “Readers’ Choice” in Summer Family Fun in the category of Dining!

2020 was anything but easy for Cotney’s team. “We were closed for five weeks during COVID which is a death sentence for most restaurants.” Cotney was dedicated to staying in touch with his team and when they were able to reopen, 23 out of 26 team members returned. “Just recently, we are back to our pre-COVID revenue, which is a miracle because our mall is now 90% vacant.” The team put a lot of thought into pivoting their business model- including adding delivery service, curbside delivery expansion and more. “It’s been a marvel to see,” Cotney says. Birmingham Christian Family readers noticed and voted the team a “2021 Readers’ Choice” in summer family fun!

Chick fil A Team Member
Chick-fil-A Brookwood offers Curbside and Delivery options in addition to traditional dining!

Based on how the Brookwood Village team adapted during the last year, the opportunity to move to a new location in Cahaba Heights became available. As the team prepares to move to Cahaba Heights, Cotney believes the Lord has prepared him for this new experience by “showing how involved He(God) is in this business. He provided the sales and the right people at the right time.” Cotney says he is delighted to move because he will be able to serve many of the same customers he has served for years. “This location is also exciting because we expect lots of families.” Cotney and his team will serve their last customers at Brookwood at the end of July and then turn their attention to reopening in Cahaba Heights in October. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @chickfilabrookwood to find details about the upcoming move to Cahaba Heights. 

-Melissa Armstrong 

We’re opening soon! Part-time and full time jobs:

  • Individualized scheduling system
  • Competitive pay ($10-18 per hour)
  • Health care benefits available for all
  • Paid time off accrual for all team members
  • Meal discounts, up to 100%
  • Clear path for development
  • $2,500 Scholarship opportunities

To apply, Text “cahaba” to 205-512-9119


T. Fox SalonSpa Group Shot

Faith @ Work

It is about much more than great hairstyles and haircuts at T. Fox SalonSpa in Hoover, Ala.

Traci Fox helping a client
Traci Fox, providing balayage color technique to a client’s hair at T. Fox SalonSpa
located at 2080 Valleydale Road. The Salon
is celebrating 12 years in business and
specializes in haircuts and Aveda color, hair
extensions, special occasion hair, and spa

“When I hire a new employee, it’s really based on servanthood,” says Traci Fox, owner of the faithbased full service salon on Valleydale Road. “I have a team of service providers that really have servant’s hearts,” explains Fox. “Serving the community is part of our core values. It is a daily ministry for us to be able to touch lives and make a difference.”

Defining the Mission. Making a difference means providing great customer service but also reaching people outside of the salon’s styling chairs. For example, Fox and her team recently provided makeovers at the WellHouse, a local ministry serving victims of human trafficking. “So often the women will say that it took a while to trust in others, believe in others, believe in themselves, “ says Holly Bunn, WellHouse Development Officer. “So, the showing of love by area businesses like T. Fox I believe is what brings them around. They begin to believe in God’s love for them… for that we are so grateful.”

The T. Fox SalonSpa Team
The T. Fox SalonSpa team seeks to serve. The salon’s owner, Traci Fox, says, “When I hire a new employee, it’s really based on servanthood.”

Fox’s team has also established “The Fox Box” inspired by the memory of Traci Fox’s mother, Nancy, who passed away at the age of 31 from ovarian cancer. “We collect money for local cancer patients going through chemotherapy and give them salon and spa services gift cards and organic Aveda products.” The Fox Box is 100% funded by the stylists and customers. The salon also raises funds for HairToStay (, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping cancer patients afford scalp cooling, a treatment that can dramatically reduce chemotherapy induced hair loss. Another passion is supporting the Cahaba River Society, which is the salon’s water source and helping Alabama Youth Camps with health screenings. “We’ve administered over 10,000 health screenings as volunteers at summer youth camps.”

When the salon had to close its doors for eight weeks due to COVID-19, Fox and her stylists asked themselves, “What do we do here?” The team chose to make more than 2,500 calls to the shut-in and elderly community to see if there was anything they could do to help them like running errands and picking up prescriptions. “We did this daily and sent out hundreds of cards of encouragement,” remembers Fox.

Traci Fox with Award
Traci Fox and her team were recently recognized as a Top 200 Salon in North America by Salon Today. Also voted Best Customer Service and Best Hair Salon in Shelby County by Shelby Living magazine.

Setting a Standard for Service. Although T. Fox has not sought recognition for its service minded practices, their actions have not gone unnoticed. “As a past recipient of the Shelby County Small Business Award, T. Fox SalonSpa set itself apart as one of our community’s most successful small businesses,” explains Kirk R. Mancer, President & CEO of The Shelby County Chamber. “In receiving their recognition as a ‘small business of the year’, Traci Fox and her team demonstrated a substantial history of business success, growth in number of employees and revenue as well as a commitment to “giving back” to their community through a number of internal and external initiatives benefiting those less fortunate and in need. What’s more, their commitment to excellence continues with their recent recognition as one of the Top 200 Salons in America!”

Fox says her faith in Christ is what motivates her to be a servant leader. “I couldn’t do all of this without my team,” says Fox who strives to be a small business advocate as well as teach, mentor, and help young people realize that they can use their business to live out their faith and in turn better the community. To read more about T. Fox SalonSpa visit

-Melissa Armstrong 

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