It was 1979 when I started Southern Professionals. I’d worked with the {Needs checking}kindle company in the shelton company and with Johnson & Johnson, McNeil division, and it was time that I was ready to have a challenge. So I talked it over my wife, Bobbie, and she agreed “if this is what you want to do I’m behind you”.
Well, I started in 1979 and we started calling on the drug chains and the food chains in the SouthEast. At first, our big break was when a gentleman flew in and wanted to interview me, and I interviewed him downtown Atlanta and he said that he had a product he’d like for me to sell. So he set this product on the table and it was in a container. I said, “is that hand lotion”? He said, “no this is soap”. And I said, ” well soap doesn’t come in a bottle”. And he said “well this one will because we’re going to call it a soft soap”.
And so we took off with that. That went very well for us, and then it must have been a year so later, I was down at Eckerd drug and had dinner with one of the VPs down there and he shared with me that they were going to be selling Eckerd’s. Well, of course, this upset me because I didn’t know where I would go to make up the volume I was going to be losing.
I got a phone call from a friend of mine who was a buyer at Eckerd’s and asked me would I represent this new company he was working with called First Quality. To this day, is one of our biggest lines and we’ve enjoyed working immensely with these people. They’re people of integrity and honor.
And so after that I had to make a decision, where would I go to get this new business. And I noticed all these dollar stores opening up. So what I did, I said “well i’m going to go to these headquarters.” there is a headquarters, and well, we’ve got like three of them in our SouthEast. So I started going to Dollar General, and for about a year I never wrote an order. And then we had a major break and they gave me an order up there. And so we pulled back from the drug chains, and started calling on nothing but the deep discount trade, the Freds, the Dollar General, the Eckerd’s variety, and Dollar Tree. And and so it has worked out very well for us. We’ve been in the dollar store trade for 25 to 30 years and our business has grown substantially. So needless to say, here in the end of my tenure it was time to find an exit strategy. Any father’s heart’s desire is for one of his children take over his business so that you know that the principles and the standards you set in life will pass on. And when Burt showed interest in the company it thrilled me to death because I knew that he would take the same level of interest that I have in the company and love for the company and the passion for the company and he has done tremendous since he’s taken over and he will do even better as the years go on.