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Memories wrapped in a ring
Herff Jones offers every memento available to high schools
W BIZ CLASS RINGS 01
Delaney Mahalak, 16, left, lines up with fellow Southeast Bulloch High juniors a to receive their class rings from sales representative Lacy Waters. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Watch video of Herff Jones and SEB juniors receiving rings. Click on link:

http://www.statesboroherald.com/multimedia/1739/

      At age 27, Randy Roderick found himself at a crossroads in his career. After serving as Albany High School's men's basketball coach for five years, Roderick knew it was time to make a change.
      "Either I needed to go into coaching at the college level, or I needed to get out," Roderick said. "It was at that time that I received a phone call from a Herff Jones franchisee in Marietta to come and work for him. I left my coaching career behind me, and entered the business world."
      Just three short years later in 1988, Roderick purchased the southeast Georgia Herff Jones franchise from J. E. Rowe, and the rest, as they say, is history. In the last 22 years, Roderick has grown the franchise from seven accounts to 90 serving schools in 35 counties in this area of the state. Roderick keeps his main office in Statesboro.
       Founded in 1920, Herff Jones is one of the largest producers of school commemoration products in the country. From class rings to graduation gowns, diplomas, and invitations, Herff Jones serves thousands of colleges and high schools across the nation.
       With the precision of a coach plotting his game plan, Roderick maps out each year with little time to spare in between appointments. His calendar is filled from early morning until late at night during the months of September and October, and his seven employees are constantly on the road as well.
       "During those months we are either delivering class rings, or students are ordering them to be delivered in the spring," he said. "It is incredibly busy, but so rewarding. I truly believe that everybody wants to be successful, and a class ring is recognition of that for many folks. We do whatever we can to make sure that everybody has that opportunity."
       Kathy Hendrix serves as the assistant to Statesboro High School principal Marty Waters. She has worked with Roderick on behalf of the school for the last twenty years.
       "Randy and his staff provide a level of service that is unmatched," Hendrix said. "All we have to do is call. He works around our school schedule, and is always there when he says that he will be. Whether it is class rings or gowns, Randy goes to great lengths to work with our students."
       Hendrix said the purchase of a ring or gown can be a burden for a student's family, but Roderick always finds a way to make it work for the student.
       "There are times that a student's family may not be in a position to pay for a graduation gown at that time, and Randy will work with them in any way that he can, and he does it in a fashion that doesn't cause the student any embarrassment," she said. "He will not let a student go without a gown. He believes that graduation is truly an important milestone, and wouldn't want a single student to miss that opportunity."
       Roderick and his family live in Bellville, his wife's hometown. "I met my wife Debbie when we were attending Georgia Southwestern in Americus," he said. "We have been married for 27 years. Our son Ric will be graduating from Georgia Southwestern in December, and he is coming to work with me."
       Roderick's staff is close knit, and the office has a family feel to it. "This business is all about the service, and making the customer happy," he said. "We have to work very closely together to meet all of the obligations that we have to those schools that we serve. We function as a family."
       This past Monday, Roderick's staff delivered class rings to Southeast Bulloch High School juniors. Among those excited to be getting their rings were juniors Kate Sullivan and Nira Byrd.
       "I think it's important to get a ring to remember your high school years," Sullivan said. "From your teachers, to your friends, the activities you're in, and the sports you play, 20 years from now, I'll look down at it and remember my high school years."
       Other administrators sing the praises of Roderick and his staff for the service that they give to their schools.
       "I have been working with Randy for ten years," said Effingham County High School principal Yancy Ford. "Everything that Randy and his company represents is first class. Nothing is second rate. They work so closely with everybody including the principal and administration to make sure that the students are taken care of. If we have students with hardships, the first thing that Randy will say is let's find a way."
      Ford said Roderick makes a point of reaching out to anyone that he comes into contact with. "He spends as much time asking about our school and the well being of the students as he does talking about Herff Jones, if not more," Ford said.   "He is so successful, because he truly cares. He has been so good to our students, and our school." 
       Roderick's passion for commemorating milestones in a young person's life was not lost on Byrd as she received her ring.
       "Getting this ring reminds me that I will always be a Yellow Jacket," Byrd said. "It's something to keep life long and to remember all of my friends."
       Roderick's wife is the former Debbie Durrence. In addition to a son, the Rodericks have a daughter Renna who is attending Auburn University.
       To learn more about Herff Jones, you can visit their website at www.herffjones.com.

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