• Renovations have begun on the new location of W&J Shoe Repair on West Main Street. It will be located in the smaller building to the left of their current location at 41 West Main Street behind Thayer Monument Company. W&J is owned by Jimmy and Sheila Raymond. This move will allow the completion of the final phase of the renovations of the former Statesboro Carpet and Tile location. They have removed the awning and will be repainting the buildings, returning them very close to their original façade.
• The GSU City Campus will be hosting Business after Hours Thursday, June 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. It is jointly sponsored by the DSDA and COBA. They promise a big announcement and a preview for what is next for the downtown location. Three incubator clients will be on hand to pitch their businesses and Maven Makers form Savannah will give attendees a small-scale preview of the FabLab. The city campus is located beside city hall and CAKE.
• Dr. Emokpae and his staff at Supreme Internal Medicine, PC had a ribbon cutting last week at their new office at 1207 Merchants Way (behind Walker Pharmacy).
I have always heard that two keys to success in business are: Keep your overhead low and keep your opinions to yourself.
For the past 62 years, Billy Gunter, has done one of these two things very well. Despite that, he has spent the last 40 years building Billy Gunter Heating and Air Conditioning into a household name.
Billy is known throughout the community for his opinions and his unwavering commitment to his customers, family and Georgia Southern.
Longtime friend Steve Rushing said, "Billy can be a bit ornery but that's just a facade. He is a gentle, kind man on the inside and can be the best friend you have and would do anything he could for you at any time if you were in need. He also knows one or two things about the heating and air conditioning business."
Nate Hirsch considers Billy to be one of his closest friends.
"Billy defines True Blue," Hirsch said. "We are seat mates at the baseball games and he always gives a colorful balance to the game on the field. He has missed very few football, baseball or basketball games over the last few decades. He loves the Eagles and the Braves. We have had many memorable moments, one of the most special was our trips to Atlanta for Braves baseball games. We were fortunate to enjoy the 1991 World Series together."
The walls in Billy's small, dated office are covered with Georgia Southern memorabilia, pictures of his family and tokens of friendship, which serve as reminders of his success.
"The good Lord has answered many of my prayers including giving me the ability to make a good living for me and my family," Gunter said. "I am not the biggest at what I do and maybe not the best, but I have always been fair, respectful and responsible."
The most important ingredient to his success has been great, loyal customers, who continue to refer him to their family and friends.
"My formula for business was simple, I treated people fair and with compassion," he said. "I probably could have made a lot more money if that wasn't my focus, but I don't have any trouble sleeping at night knowing my customers have been treated fairly."
Billy celebrated his 80th birthday June 13. He said it is time to step aside and let someone else take over his business. He selected Marvin L. Deal, Sr., owner of Deals Heating and Air. Deals also is a Trane dealer and will honor the Trane parts warranties for current clients of Billy's.
Deal said, "even though we have been competitors we love and respect each other. We are happy that he has chosen us to take over his business and provide his clients with the high level of service and support they have grown to expect from Billy and his team."
I have known Billy and his family for almost 30 years. Many times I have sat with him at the Snooky's round table or chatted while he was completing his daily ritual of walking three miles at the Statesboro Mall. He always had a suggestion about whatever project I was involved in at the time and would always end with a compliment in his own unique way.
As Bruce Yawn likes to say, Billy is one of the good guys. A person you will never forget if your paths crossed. Billy, we wish you the best in your well-deserved retirement and thank you for all your contributions to making our community the unique place it is today.
Please email DeWayne at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.