36 S G M A G A Z I N E | FA L L 2 0 1 8 SMALL BUSINESS Staying the Course Help From the SBDC Moves Downtown Store Forward As customers pass by the lawn mowers and wooden rocking chairs outside Anderson’s Western Auto, they know when they enter through the glass doors that they will find a little bit of everything and a whole lot of friendly service. Harry B. Anderson, Sr., opened the store in Valdosta in 1939, and since that time it has remained in his family for nearly 80 years. In 1970, his oldest son, Harry ‘Bucky’ Anderson, Jr., began managing the store, and then sold it to his brother, Bill Anderson, in 2016. “I started working after school and in the summers mostly stringing tennis rackets,” Bill said. “I worked many years with my brother Bucky and learned a lot about running a business, especially how to treat customers with respect.” Anderson’s Western Auto has become a landmark in downtown Valdosta, a place where multi-generations of customers have purchased a myriad of products from automotive supplies and tires to lawn equipment and household appliances, and much more. With the added benefit of being a True Value distributor, the store also sells an extensive line of hardware products. The diversity of products and services is what makes the store unique. “Most auto stores don’t sell hardware or appliances,” Bill said. “We sell what our customers want, and over the years we have changed our inventory to fit their needs.” SBDC Guides Future Growth After purchasing the store, Bill, and his wife Anne, who helps manage the day-to-day operations, began looking for assistance in restructuring the store’s accounting procedures and improving other business activities. The Andersons reached out to Lynn Bennett, area director of the University of Georgia Small Business (SBDC) at Valdosta State University (VSU), for help with moving their business to the next level of growth. “I started calling around different places asking who could help and I kept hearing that I needed to call the SBDC,” Anne said. “I had heard of the SBDC but wasn’t sure how they could help.” Bennett said the Andersons were in transition, and though their store had been established for nearly eight decades, they needed help moving the business forward. “I visited them at the store and spent time getting a good understanding of their business needs,” said Bennett, who is now an accounting lecturer at VSU. “Bill and Anne realized there was a need to update the store’s business processes. They wanted to stay and maintain their presence in downtown Valdosta, and they Bill and Anne Anderson received assistance from the UGA Small Business Development Center at Valdosta State University to expand their downtown Valdosta business. Lynn Bennett