Whether it’s contributing to the local economy, providing a service or carrying on tradition, family businesses are a vital part of the fabric of any community. In this issue, we profile 5 of Cobb’s dynamic family businesses.
BY MICHAEL PALLERINO // PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATHRYN INGALL
Yancey Bros. Co.
When Jim Stephenson first started at Yancey Bros. Co., his wife’s uncle, Goodloe, his predecessor, gave him a few pointers that he still uses today. But the one he admittedly didn’t fully understand at first was that “it is all about the people.”
Today, the advice is something Stephenson embraces wholeheartedly at every turn. As chairman and CEO of a 100-year-old-plus family business, he knows the value of treating every person the company touches – employees, customers and suppliers – with the respect and commitment they deserve. The lesson, which has been passed down over the years, continues to be a contributing factor to the construction equipment dealer’s success.
“I believe that a family owned business has great advantages for its owners, employees, customers and suppliers,” Stephenson said. “I believe that employees of family owned businesses are much more likely to be engaged in their work life at the company, more likely to be fulfilled in their work and to contribute to a happy work place, and more likely to deliver a service above and beyond to team mates, customers and suppliers. Our employees spend more time here with us than they do with their families. These are tremendous advantages.”
Along with Stephenson, the other full-time family member on board is Trey Googe, his nephew-in-law, who serves as president and COO. Googe will assume leadership of the company when Stephenson decides to step down. Other family members involved in the company include Goodloe, who serves as chairman emeritus, and Stephenson’s brother, Paul, who is on the board of directors.
“Being involved in the leadership of Yancey Bros. Co. has provided all of us with the opportunity too not only satisfy a desire for leadership but, more importantly, be a steward of something that’s much bigger than ourselves,” Stephenson said. “The key to making this dynamic work is the commitment of family ownership to conducting themselves in accordance with the company’s ethics and values.”
The advantages of following those values can be completely lost if the family owners are seen to not conduct themselves in accordance with the values to which the whole organization is expected to aspire.
“Whatever values a family business may choose to guide it – integrity, fairness to all, dedication to customer needs, sense of urgency, etc. – it is important that the family choose values which are truly important to it and which they will consistently honor in their conduct of the business,” Stephenson said. “This is the foundation of the stronger relationship which family businesses can enjoy with and among their employees, customers and business partners.”
Yancey’s Bros. Co.>>330 Lee Industrial Blvd., Austell
Year established: 1914
Type of business: Construction Equipment Dealer
No. of family members: 2
No. of employees: 1,000 in GA
PLATED: Family, food and fun are secret ingredients at Fish Thyme
written by LaTria Garnigan
photography by Kathryn Ingall
I always say a testament to a good restaurant is measured by how many cars are in the parking lot. And as 5 p.m. approached at Fish Thyme, the parking lot began filling up and one could see patrons patiently waiting in their cars for the doors to officially open.
If you have ever frequented the Acworth-based seafood restaurant, this will not surprise you. At the helm are Marietta residents Steven and Veronica Dudley — a powerhouse team if I’ve ever known one.
While Veronica swiftly, efficiently and always with a warm smile and demeanor handles everything front of house, Steven can be found in the kitchen each night, putting his personal touches on every meal. Their 17-year-old son Zachary also works at the restaurant to truly make this a family affair.
On this particular day, Steven steps in to help prep for dinner, no questions asked, as his sous chef called in sick. It seemed to phase no one and was casually said as if this is nothing new to his wife or the staff.
“We work well together,” said Veronica. “He lets me do whatever I want out here so it works. A lot of couples say they can’t work together, but maybe it’s because we are front and back — that might help.”
Steven added that good communication is also key to a seamless work relationship.
The love of food and cooking has been with Steven since his childhood. While most teenagers were probably not worrying too much about adulthood, young 17-year-old Steven was owning and operating his first restaurant, River Smith’s Catfish and Chicken in his native state of Texas.
A short career in the military followed and once he left the Army, the culinary world beckoned again. After working as a general manager with Planet Hollywood, entrepreneurship once again called out to Steven and he set out to establish Capers on Main in 2004 in downtown Kennesaw. It truly took a village, with wife Veronica coming on board to help design the aesthetics and manage the day-to-day, and also a family member who helped the Dudleys with seed money.
Eight years into the success of Capers, Steven was driving through Acworth and spotted the property on South Main Street.
“He called me to say he just rode by this street, saw this building was available and said ‘you need to come look at it I think we should put a restaurant here,’” said Veronica.
Shortly after that, Fish Thyme was born.
According to Steven, Fish Thyme fills a void for Cobb residents who want a high-quality meal without having the burden of driving to Atlanta.
“We saw there was a lack of seafood restaurants out here … I don’t know where the closest seafood restaurant is to Fish Thyme,” said Steven. “We felt that was a niche that needed to be filled.”
Dishes like Grilled North Georgia Trout with a lemon caper butter sauce; Hawaiian Ribeye marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple and orange juice; Parmesan and truffle fries and a kale salad with a dressing of mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish and honey are just the tip of iceberg of what the restaurant offers.
“For me, everything on the menu is a favorite of mine,” said Steven. “The way we developed the menu is we took the seafood specials we had done for so many years at Capers and put them on the menu (at Fish Thyme). Because we knew the dishes, it was easy to execute.”
While the main menu at Fish Thyme pretty much stays the same, there are daily specials that rotate with drinks, appetizers, entrees, fresh vegetables of the day and desserts.
West Cobb has proven to be the perfect market for the Dudleys’ businesses.
“It’s been awesome — West Cobb is such a great area to be in and we have a loyal base,” said Steven. “We’re not overly expensive and we’re not paying high rents like you would if you were in Buckhead, so we’re able to keep our prices very reasonable. People can see that we are a value.”
Steven and Veronica added on to their culinary empire with Juice Wine Bar two years ago — open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 4-11 p.m. — just two doors up from Fish Thyme. A fourth business is not off the table, with the Dudleys weighing their options and getting the concept together.
3979 S. Main St., Acworth
Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 5-10 p.m. and
Friday & Saturday, 5-11 p.m.; closed Monday and Tuesday
Phone: (770) 974-2323
Year opened: 2011
Family members who work there: owners Steven & Veronica Dudley and their son Zachary
Stepping into success: Coggins Shoes for Kids
written by Michael J. Pallerino
photography by Erin Gray Cantrell
Few businesses have seen the dynamic changes in the retail market like Coggins Shoes for Kids. Opening on the Square in Marietta in 1925, before eventually settling in the Eastlake Shopping Center in 1987, Coggins has been servicing families through myriad culture shifts and turns.
David Coppedge, the third generation owner, whose family took over in 1955, believe the key to his family’s success at navigating this ever-changing landscape has been its ability to create a consistent commitment to service, value and passion that still rings true today.
In today’s ultra-competitive retail landscape — think brick-and-mortar versus online — giving your customers everything they want and need from the moment they select your brand is critical. No matter how which way they choose, service is the key.
“What good service was in 1976, is completely different in 2016,” Coppedge says. “Forty years ago, customers walked in, took a number and sat until their number was called. And then it took an hour for an employee to bring out shoes – a couple at a time – to find the right pair. Customers today would never accept this. Today, we offer service, which respects customer’s time, money and expectation of selection.”
In a time when clicking anything online dominates our consciousness, the environment that a family business like Coggins has created enables it to succeed among today’s fickle consumers mindset.
“Flexibility to make our own decisions on the spot about what is best for the customer. Flexibility to completely change the business to keep up with the speed of change. Flexibility to embrace Internet price matching by understanding it’s best of our customers, for Coggins and our community in the long run.”
The flexibility a family business affords also enables it to compete with the bigger players in the marketplace.
“Dealing with rigidity is exhausting. Big banks, big box stores, chain store and, let’s face it, the Internet. These organizations are cold and inflexible. Coggins offers children’s shoes. It’s a big deal for kids. It has to be easy for the parents and fun for the kids. Think of Coggins as climbing in a huge, vibrant weeping willow tree swaying easily in the breeze. Shopping for children’s shoes elsewhere is like walking through a burned out building. Come here once and see for yourself, Coggins is worth the drive.”
Coggins Shoes for Kids
2211 Roswell Road, Suite 146, Marietta
Phone: (770) 973-5335
Year established: 1925 by the Coggins family. Purchased by current owners in 1955.
Type of business: Retail children’s shoes
No. of family members: 2
No. of employees: 5
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. & Sunday, 12:30 – 5 p.m.
Brands carried: StrideRite, New Balance, Livie & Luca, Sun San Sandals, Keen, Saucony, Keds, Merrell, Hanna Andersson, Pediped, Crocs, Tsukihoshi, Reef, Rainbow, and 15 other national brands
Mayes Ward-Dobbins continues a tradition of serving
By Michael J. Pallerino // Photography by Erin Gray Cantrell
For nearly the past 100 years, The Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home has been a name that families in and around the Marietta area can turn to in a time of their most dire needs.
This is something the Pendley family — Terry Pendley, his wife, Darlene, and sons, Jason, Chad and Shane — takes to heart.
The formula that has sustained Mayes Ward-Dobbins through the years is simple, really: You build relationships that gain trust from the families you serve. In the area that Mayes Ward-Dobbins serves, that trust factor is what carries through the generations.
“Our client families see the value in working with someone they know, trust and have a reputation of treating families like they were an extension of their own family,” said Chad, who is manager at the Historic Marietta Chapel, and funeral director and embalmer. “We put more value in relationships with client families, rather than the “bottom line,” because we want to pass on a respected business to our future generations.”
In a business that has been passionately passed down the line, the secret to success is no secret at all — families are committed to work together through the good times and the hard ones.
“At the end of the day, we are still just that — a family,” Chad said. “The biggest hurdle we face is separating family time with business time. We have to focus on each other’s personal lives to build a better bond between us all. This creates a working atmosphere that keeps in perspective what we are trying to accomplish together as family in business.”
For historical purposes, Mayes Ward and his brother, Harvey, established Mayes Ward Funeral Home in 1929. In 1932, it moved from Lawrence Street to its current location on Church Street. In the early 1950s, the business was handed down to William Bullard, Ward’s nephew.
In 1983, Ward purchased Dobbins Funeral Home, which was opened by Albert Dobbins in 1923. Both locations remained open independently until Jan. 1, 1990, when they were merged into the Church Street location. Today, Terry, who handed the business down to his three sons, owns the business. Over the years, Mayes Ward-Dobbins has been handed down four times in two different families.
“Family owned businesses have the advantage of doing what is right by the client family, rather than being confined to a corporate structure,” Chad said. “We are able to make better decisions for the business because of our trust in each other, and knowing each family member’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Another important lesson the Pendleys have learned from being a family business is the important role the community plays in your success.
“Serving in the community through church and civic organizations has always been a big part of our family,” Chad said. “That call of service has been passed down to all of us, and helps us to become more in tune with our community. My father always said, ‘It is important not to just take from the community, but to put back into the community.’”
Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home & Crematory
Historic Marietta Chapel
180 Church St., Marietta
Powder Springs Chapel
3940 Macland Road, Powder Springs
Year established: 1923
Type of business: Funeral Home & Crematory
No. of family members: 6
No. of employees: 23
BY JENNIFER HAFER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATHRYN INGALL
There’s an unwritten rule in the McEntyre household, “If you can see over the counter, you’re back there working with us.”
“Smyrna Bakery” was opened in the late ‘40s by Howard McEntyre Sr. on Atlanta Road in Smyrna. One name change and four relocations later, the fifth generation of McEntyres are scraping cake pans, sweeping floors and taking out the trash at McEntyre’s Bakery.
“Next year, we’ll be celebrating 70 years in business,” Joy McEntyre said. “When you’re in the middle of doing it every day you don’t think about that, but when you stop and say it, it’s like wow, that’s a really long time.”
McEntyre’s husband, Ryan, represents the fourth generation of the family-owned and operated bakery, while the couple’s four children, 13-year-old Madalyn, 11-year-old Mason, seven-year-old Hudson and four-year-old Maggie, represent the fifth generation.
“We won’t push our kids into the business, but they’re already telling us they want to take the bakery over one day and what they’ll do differently,” she said.
Though the original recipes now reside on a computer, not much else has changed in the bakery over the decades. Original pans and mixers are still in use today.
“One time for our butter cream frosting we couldn’t get a particular flavoring and the customers knew it was different and we had to hunt high and low to find that flavoring,” McEntyre said. “We haven’t changed anything. We continue to do what the customers know and love and what makes us who we are down to the type of handwriting on the cakes and the roses.”
Though her husband earned a master’s degree in music, his desire to continue the family’s baking tradition continues a legacy not just for the McEntyres, but for their customers as well.
“It’s not about cookies and filling a cake,” McEntyre said. “It’s about making memories and generational memories. It’s being a part of other people’s families through first birthdays and anniversaries, and family is so important to us.”
Hearing the stories surrounding their baked goods and serving generation after generation of loyal customers, is what keeps the family going when the days get long.
“This past Christmas was probably our busiest ever, and we were working seven days a week, long brutal hours, but hearing the stories is what gives us the motivation to keep going,” McEntyre said. “We also feel very strongly that God didn’t send our family overseas on mission trips, He sent us to 1184 Concord Road; it’s more than a cupcake, it’s an opportunity to show and share God’s love.”
1184 Concord Road SE, Smyrna, 30080
Phone: 770 434-3115