Sat, May 25, 2024

Getting business advice from the experts

The North Augusta Chamber of Commerce’s Power Lunch this week was powerful, featuring a panel discussion led by two business owners with a decade-long track record of success.

Stephen and Nancy Posey, 4th generation owners of Posey Funeral Directors, and Alan Owings and his daughter, Allison Bass, 3rd generation owners of Owings & Sam Dentistry on W. Martintown Road, fielded questions about longevity, and how to nurture a business for future generations. Posey opened on Georgia Ave. in North Augusta in 1879, while Dr. David Owings started his dentistry practice in 1976.

Although one of the biggest changes, and potential challenges facing businesses is simple communication, both legacy businesses said much of their communication is done old school.

Stephen and Nancy Posey, owners of Posey Funeral Directors, and Allison Bass and Alan Owings, owners of Owings & Sam Dentistry shared business practices that have resulted in longevity for both businesses.

“I would still say it’s been face-to-face. I would say the text threads have worked after hours. Sometimes, if somebody doesn’t respond, they get a phone call,” said Owings. “We haven’t gone on to the platforms of Slack (Technologies) and all that.

“I think we’re so old school because we use walkie-talkies,” added Bass. “We’re on our walkie-talkies communicating with each other and sometimes, we’ll be talking to a patient. All of a sudden, we stop because somebody’s speaking in our ear. And we have to apologize and we’re like, ‘I’m so sorry. They’re the voices in my head.’”

Posey said one thing his family learned over the years is an important lesson for new business owners.

“I think what my dad said to me is the best advice, love the people,” he said, adding it is important to adapt as preferences change. “For example, one thing we’ve always had are limousines. Well, we found in the last two or three years not many people want limousines. And so, when it came time to replace the cars, when you’re talking about $150,000, a car that sits in the garage, we have to live with it. It’s all part of the business.”

Owings said one challenge he deals with is facing many business owners in the post-COVID era: Attracting and retaining qualified staff.

Alan Posey agreed, “The funeral business is in crisis for people today. The schools of mortuary science have students, but the problem is the quality of students. Their appearance, their attitude, their desires. They have people, but it’s not the people that you want to hire. And so, we’re always trying to find good people to raise them up.”

Posey and Owings represent two of many longtime businesses in North Augusta, including some with new owners who are preserving the history of the community.

“I think the perfect example is look what Havird Usry has done with the Sno-Cap,” Mayor Britton Williams told ABD. “Rachel Franklin took over for Mr. Terry, but Havird has kind of taken it to the next level. Mr. Gabriel sold the Pink Dipper and now Kathy and her husband run that. They also own Beamies, as well as the new market on West Avenue.”

The Pink Dipper is currently the focus of a contest among elementary school students who were asked to draw or paint their favorite ice cream and include the Pink Dipper.

The contest received more than 300 entries. They are on display in the lobby of the Municipal Building.

Williams said the legacy businesses can also serve as ambassadors, attracting new businesses to open in North Augusta.

“I believe we are getting an environment where people want to do business in North Augusta,” he said. “Look at the new Town Square Olive Oil. Look at what Chris Garrison has done with the old Ming Yat building, he took time and effort to get the right people.”

Williams said it is important property owners bring in the right mixture of tenants to continue revitalizing the downtown area.

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