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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - Through trying times, Ellis Wood keeps faith
Grice-H-DeWayne Web
DeWayne Grice

Business Ticker

• Dr. Eli Penn will hold a ribbon cutting for his new practice, East Georgia Gastroenterology, today at 11:45 AM. The new location is in the Medical Office Building attached to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, 1497 Fair Road, Suite 102.
• Statesboro's newest restaurant, The Mason Jar, is opening Wednesday, at 1433 Northside Drive East in the former location of Bun's, beside Video Warehouse. Sunday through Friday the menu will be all you can eat country cooking buffet, Friday night and Saturday it will be all you can eat seafood. The Mason Jar is owned by Bobbie Butler and managed by Connie and Skip Jack Thompson. Many of you will know Connie and Skip Jack as the former owners of Eagle Seafood. Their phone is (912) 871-6336.
• Heath Robinson has closed the original location of Big Show Burgers at 1212 Brampton Ave. Robinson invites all of their faithful Brampton customers to dine at the larger Big Show Burgers and Bar located at 200 Lanier Drive across from Paulsen Stadium. Their phone number is (912) 243-9339.

 

 

         When Arthur Gordon traveled to Metter years ago as editor of the faith-based magazine "Guideposts" to interview Dr. Michael and Audrey Guido for a feature story, he was taken by how simply they lived.
        In the interview, Gordon commented to Dr. Guido, "You make it all sound almost easy."
        To which Dr. Guido responded, "It is not always easy. But basically it is simple. Have faith, believe, love, pray and work and as the Lord himself said, nothing shall be impossible unto you."
        Few people were closer to the Guidos than Ellis and Kathy Wood. The Guidos became a second family to them. Ellis spent countless hours transporting the Guidos to speaking engagements all over the world. He chaired the Guido's board and was arguably one of their biggest and strongest supporters.
        In 1976, Ellis Wood moved to Statesboro and began his professional career with Claussen Paving. In 1984, after the sale of Claussen, he founded his own company, Ellis Wood Contracting. Over the next 30 years, Ellis and his team built his company to become one of the leaders in the paving industry. At the height of his success he had nearly 100 employees.
        As an avid pilot, not only did Ellis fly the Guidos but he was a major participant in the Angel Flight program and also flew his helicopter on countless missions supporting local law enforcement. The company also donated thousands of hours of manpower and equipment to help coordinate disaster cleanups throughout the southeast.
        A few years ago, Ellis' son Matt assumed the day-to-day leadership of the company, and has been by his dad's side to help with disaster relief operations.
        "We have never left Statesboro to help in a disaster without a Guido praying for our team," Ellis Wood said. "In fact, Dr. Guido would always tell me that if he passed a dump truck or piece of construction equipment he would say a prayer for me and my business."
        Ironically, Wood's darkest hours would come shortly after the passing of Dr. Michael Guido in February 2009.
        "When the recession hit, we saw a gradual slowdown in business beginning in 2007," he said. "In 2010, our company was struggling to survive. We saw our revenues decrease by 70 percent and were challenged to make payroll. We had to make some incredibly hard decisions in reducing the size of our company and our workforce. My employees are an extension of my family. Many of them had been with me since 1976."
        Under mounting pressure with the company, Ellis suffered a major heart attack in April 2010 and spent 10 days in the hospital, several of those on life support.
        While he was in the hospital fighting for his life, his son Matt had to quickly take the reins and shoulder the full load of a struggling company.

Business survival
        Internally, he turned to Ryan Hooker and Becky McNure, critical members of their management team to help reposition the company.
        However, the most incredible event that helped them survive happened externally.
        One by one, business leaders in the community began reaching out to Matt. Many of them had been friends of their family for years. All of them had been introduced to the Guidos through Ellis. Ellis and the Guidos had touched each of their lives in remarkable ways through the years and it was their time to repay the favor.
        This group of business leaders created an advisory board and became involved in the company's day to day operations. Together, they made some very hard but critical decisions which saw an even further reduction of the staff to 18 employees and they also shifted focus of the company.
        "Billy Crider came to see me shortly after I was discharged from the hospital and shared Spencer Johnson's book, "Who Moved My Cheese," Ellis Wood said. "He reassured me that even though our cheese had been moved, it had not been completely eaten. After reading the book, I began again believing that we might just see some light at the end of this long dark period."
        Because of his health issues and the restructuring of the company, Ellis sold his beloved airplane and helicopter to generate operating capital for the company.
        "That was probably one of the hardest things I had to do," he said. "Flying for me was a way of life. I never really flew just to fly. I always had a reason to fly."

Steady climb back
        Thanks to the support of friends, strong management, and his leadership team, Ellis Wood Contracting has seen a steady climb back. They are now back up to around 35 employees and continue to see positive signs of new growth for the business.
        For the past 30 years, Ellis Wood said the goal of his business was to utilize the assets entrusted to them to glorify God and help those in need. Even in his darkest hour, he never allowed that goal to waver.
        "In 2011, when a tornado did massive damage to Griffin, I knew we could not provide the level of support we had given to other communities in need," Wood said. "In the past, we had paid all of our employees that traveled with us. We simply could not do it this time. So I gathered my team together and explained to them that they would need to volunteer their time if they wanted to help. When I asked for volunteers, every hand went up. After all we had been through that was one of my proudest moments. Our core values had survived and were intact."
        In addition to his company's assistance with disasters of all sizes, he remains active with the Guido's organization, is chair of the Statesboro-Bulloch Airport Authority, is an appointed member of the Board of Public Safety and serves on the advisory board for Sea Island Bank.
        Thanks to living Dr. Guido's example and "sowing seeds" of goodness throughout his company and community, Ellis has had Dr. Guido's words reconfirmed through this remarkable journey.
        "Have faith, believe, love, pray and work and as the Lord himself said nothing shall be impossible unto you."
         Please email DeWayne at dgrice@statesboroherald.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.

Business Ticker

• Dr. Eli Penn will hold a ribbon cutting for his new practice, East Georgia Gastroenterology, today at 11:45 AM. The new location is in the Medical Office Building attached to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, 1497 Fair Road, Suite 102.
• Statesboro's newest restaurant, The Mason Jar, is opening Wednesday, at 1433 Northside Drive East in the former location of Bun's, beside Video Warehouse. Sunday through Friday the menu will be all you can eat country cooking buffet, Friday night and Saturday it will be all you can eat seafood. The Mason Jar is owned by Bobbie Butler and managed by Connie and Skip Jack Thompson. Many of you will know Connie and Skip Jack as the former owners of Eagle Seafood. Their phone is (912) 871-6336.
• Heath Robinson has closed the original location of Big Show Burgers at 1212 Brampton Ave. Robinson invites all of their faithful Brampton customers to dine at the larger Big Show Burgers and Bar located at 200 Lanier Drive across from Paulsen Stadium. Their phone number is (912) 243-9339.

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