In 1940, Jim Redding was working as a salesman for International Harvester when a good friend told him about the benefits of owning a NAPA store.
He explained to him that Statesboro, Ga., would be a great place to open a store. So, in 1941, with a $5,000 loan, Jim and his brother Clyde relocated from Florida to Statesboro and opened their first NAPA store.
Clyde was killed serving in World War II shortly after the store opened, but Jim went on to grow the business by opening stores in Millen, Metter, Claxton and Jesup. I think Jim's proudest moment may be when his sons Jimmy and Clyde joined the family business. Jim's daughter Patricia Cassedy also had ownership in the business for some time, but made her career in education.
During its 75-year history, the Statesboro NAPA store has called four locations home. The longest period was the 43 years the store was at 102 West Elm Street, where Fostering Bulloch is located now. In 1997, the store was moved to its current location on Northside Drive East. They actually later donated the West Elm building to Fostering Bulloch.
Through the years they led the nation in many ways. One of the most impressive was in 1975, when they became the third NAPA store to implement a computerized catalog and inventory system.
The family eventually sold all of the stores except for their flagship Statesboro store. And now, Jimmy and Clyde have decide it is time to move on to the next chapter of their lives and give another entrepreneur the opportunity to continue the business they worked hard to build.
"It is a very emotional time for our family," Clyde Redding said. "It is hard to put into words how blessed we have been to continue this wonderful family tradition and own a NAPA store. It is time for us to move on. I will miss it very much."
"What has really made this business a success is the wonderful team of employees we have been blessed to work with," Jimmy Redding said. "Of course, our customers are part of our extended family. I think they will agree that our employees and our commitment to individualized customer service is what has really set our business apart. We are so thankful that this community has supported us so loyally for the past 75 years.
"When Clyde and I decided it was time to move on we contacted NAPA about helping us find a suitable buyer. When we met Stan and Terrie Mann, we felt strongly that they were the perfect fit. They have a commitment to continue to build on what we have worked so hard to establish here."
Stan and Terrie Mann entered the NAPA business only six months ago when they purchased all three Savannah NAPA stores. They were working with NAPA corporately looking for opportunities in the area. They live in Effingham County and were hoping to purchase stores close to their home. They have three sons - one who works at Gulfstream and twins who attend Georgia Southern.
"For 21 years, Terrie and I owned two IGA grocery stores," Stan Mann said. "We really enjoyed the relationships we established owning small, local stores. We sold the stores in 1998 and my career turned to working in the insurance industry. For the past few years we have been looking for an opportunity to get back into owning a small business. We wanted to create an entrepreneurial opportunity for our sons."
Through their research, they became very attracted to the NAPA business model. It is the only locally owned parts store in the area backed by a national support network in NAPA. All of the competitors in the market are corporate stores owned by national chains. With consumers owning cars longer and cars becoming more technically complex, auto parts has a real growth opportunity as an industry.
All of the local employees will remain in place, including store manager Ricky Braddy who has been employed by the Reddings since 1971.
"Our goal is to continue the incredible customer service and relationships that the Statesboro NAPA customers have come to appreciate," Stan Mann said. "We want to invite you to stop by to meet us and we look forward to being involved in the Statesboro community in every way possible."
I asked Jimmy how he thought he was going to adjust to retirement. He said he hoped to enjoy it half as much as his good friends Frank and Lenora Rozier have. I agree, the Rozier's have become the role model retirees for our community.
No matter what is next for the Redding "boys" they will certainly succeed in every way. As for their legacy in our community, it is one that we "young" folks should aspire to replicate.