One of the first tasks that Garlan Gudger, Jr. tackled upon returning to Cullman, Alabama in 1999 to take over the family business was to hire his very first employee. As a young businessman, Garlan recognized the need for Southern Accents to have a presence on the world wide web, so he hired a webmaster, Lisa Jones, to put them there. Lisa accepted the challenge, all the while wondering how in the world did this young college grad think he was going to be able to sell architectural antiques online? Fourteen years later, Garlan’s vision, coupled with the tenacity of a then stay-at-home Mom, have introduced this humble architectural salvage business to the world.
Working from home, Lisa built and maintained the website for Southern Accents, adding new architectural pieces to the site as pictures were sent via e-mail. Lisa says,”When I think back on those early days I cringe. Affordable digital cameras were just hitting the market. The picture quality wasn’t great plus the photography skills of the guys at the store were lacking to say the least. The pictures were horrible… but somehow we made it work!”
As the website continued to grow, a majority of sales were to customers viewing the inventory online and calling or driving in from out of town to make a purchase. Two years ago, Garlan recognized the ever expanding role of social media and the need to be able to better communicate with the growing customer base that reached well beyond the borders of his quaint community. He knew that the time had come to further expand Southern Accents online presence and that the person who could help him do that was sitting at her computer a few short miles down the road!
Lisa explained, “Garlan summoned me to the showroom for a meeting of the minds. As he began to explain his vision for the business,which included having every piece of inventory available for online viewing, I knew that the only way I could accomplish this task was for me to be in the store on a regular basis. An agreement was reached and what began as a part time presence quickly escalated into a full time position with an ever expanding role in the day-to-day operations. Shortly after moving into the upstairs office I took on the sole responsibility of writing the weekly newsletters and publishing the stories to our blog. My job description moved from just webmaster into an active role in marketing Southern Accents both locally and abroad via print, the newsletters and social media.”
“I have always known that one day I would end up working not just for Southern Accents, but AT Southern Accents. Through the years Garlan has always encouraged my creative spirit and has many times pushed me to do things that I did not think I was capable of doing. Because of his belief in my abilities, I’ve been given the opportunity these past two years to express my creativity both through writing and photography. I’ve always wanted to write and my long time interest in photography has turned into a new found passion thanks to my job with Southern Accents.”
Lisa continues, “Being a part of this business has also given me a new found appreciation for “old” things. I’ve never been a history buff but the stories that we are sometimes able to uncover in researching some of the antique items that we acquire are fascinating. The face of this business changes every day. It never gets boring! Right now we have a fantastic team… we are like a family working together for a common goal. It’s great!”