It’s been a busy year for business in Valdosta.
The region has celebrated anniversaries and awards, weighed the value of social media in marketing, analyzed trends in the market, seen new businesses open and, sadly, a few old businesses close their doors.
There’s a new year in front of us, but before we go careening into 2014, let’s take a few minutes to reflect on 2013, the stories, the people and what they can teach us.
— “It’s just history repeating itself,” said Don Brotherton of Don’s Fast Cash, talking about the upsurge of gun and ammunition sales in January.
— “The best way to get results is to have a basic belief in human beings,” said Joel Manby, CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment. “You don’t need to scream or embarrass them. When I have worked out of fear, it has not brought out my best work.”
— “We’d also like to see a film commission come together in Valdosta, like they have in Austin,” said local filmmaker Doug Sebastian. “Valdosta has a lot to offer filmmakers, and filmmaking would bring a lot of money into the community.”
— “As a business, we also don’t like getting too comfortable,” said John LaHood, administrator of Fellowship Home at Brookside. “We value tradition, but try to change and keep an innovative mindset.”
— “It’s always good to have a big, hairy, audacious goal out there,” said Jack Herschend, who founded Herschend Family Entertainment along with his brother, Peter.
— “We’re a little off the beaten path, but ... when you have bargains, people will find you,” said Stuart Mullis, executive director for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
— “It’s hard to get people to read a book on true black history unless they’re already interested,” said Devin Crudup, owner of online business Borne Black. “Rocking a fresh T-shirt with black history behind it is more appealing.”
— “The online market is moving very rapidly,” said Aman Deugan, Web.com’s vice president of marketing. “Now, you need to be on Facebook, mobile, local, but you need a business plan before you worry about web marketing. Once you have that, you have the option and the opportunity to be on the web.”
— “Keep good records,” said Terry Conley with TC Tax Service.
— “The longer you have for your money to grow, the more it’s going to grow,” said Greg Bright, associate wealth adviser with Bush Wealth Management.
— “There’s a lot of people out there who are struggling right now, especially with the economy the way it is. And we get a certain satisfaction from helping them out,” said ABC General Manager Dan Bruzek.
— “One week you’re selling a lot of one, next week it’s the other,” said Cathy Gilbert, who runs The Barn and Indoor Market, along with husband, L.A.
— “All entrepreneurs believe their product is going to go,” said Gino Fina, who runs Valdosta Shared Office Space. “But you have to do the market research. You have to understand your product and the culture.”
— “Many of the people we see haven’t thought about marketing,” said Ruby Riesinger, area director for the Small Business Development Center. “They’ve set aside money for it, but that’s about it.”
— “If you wanted to be with Dad, you had to go to work with him,” said David Waller Jr. with Waller Heating and Air. “We all learned good work ethics. We believe in that. It’s what makes good business.”
— “That 3 percent interest kept him up at night,” said Al Voigt, speaking about his father, George, who started Voigt Sheet Metal Works. “He had to be scared of it, but he did take that leap.”
— “We don’t want you to just go out and get a job, because you can get a job and be miserable,” said Dr. Gerald A. Williams Jr., director of Career Opportunities at Valdosta State University. “We really want you to determine what vocation will bring you satisfaction.”
— “You want to err on the side of simplicity,” said Steven Heddon of Fusion Creative Marketing.
— “We knew going into it that we’ve got big-time competition,” said Dan Henry, Azalea Health Innovations co-founder. “We had to come up with our edge, which is the service we provide and super simple to use software. Our customers embraced it.”
— “If we have to travel to change the world, that’s what we’ll do,” said Martcus Shine, current Enactus president at VSU.
— “We had the opportunity to look into doing something different and we took it,” said Clinton Beeland, founder of CJB Industries.
— “I would say she’s the backbone of the business ... the glue that holds the company together,” said Ron Borders, talking about his wife and business partner, Tammy. “The growth of the company is attributable mostly to her,”
— “We wanted to do a place where people could visit an actual farm … see things, touch things, see how we do it,” said Jessica Bolesta with Raisin’ Cane. “We want to show how farming is happening now,”
— “The biggest thing is being patient,” said Matt King with K2 Ventures. “Everything has its own schedule. It’s all a process.”
— “I would tell other women that it is OK to be assertive and go after what you want,” said Molly Deese, Wild Adventures general manager. “Don’t be afraid to have a family and a career. It is all about the balance.”
— “A lot of times, it’s just connecting the individuals to the resources they may not know exist in our community,” said Carla Gervin, manager for the local Goodwill Career Center.
— “It’s a small drop in the bucket, but when you throw pebbles in the pond, there are ripples,” said Michael Noll, VSU Geosciences professor.
“A drop can become a trickle, then a stream, and then build from there.”
— “There’s nothing like a new customer becoming a repeat customer,” said William Bowles with Simply Otra Vez.
“And that’s all in how you deal with them and what you’ve got to offer.”