Georgia Family Business of the Year Award Winners Announced

The winners of the 2004 Georgia Family Business of the Year Awards have been announced by the Cox…

Georgia (Mar 3, 2004) — Georgia Family Business of the Year Award Winners Announced

Terri Thornton

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Contact: Terri Thornton‚ 404−932−4347 or territhornton@mindspring.com

The winners of the 2004 Georgia Family Business of the Year Awards have been announced by the Cox Family Enterprise Center at the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. The winners are:

Large Category
Winner: Benton Express‚ Atlanta‚ GA
Finalists: Kleen−Tex Industries‚ Inc.‚ LaGrange‚ GA; Wheeler's‚ Rome‚ GA

Medium Category
Winner: Prince Automotive Group‚ Tifton‚ GA
Finalists: Blanchard and Calhoun‚ Augusta‚ GA; PBD Worldwide Fulfillment Services‚ Alpharetta‚ GA

Small Category
Winner: Woodbury Box Company‚ Thomaston‚ GA
Finalists: Chatham Holdings Corporation‚ Alpharetta‚ GA; Fat Man's‚ Augusta‚ GA

In addition‚ the Brunswick News has won the Cox Century Award‚ which is given to a Georgia company that has been family−owned for more than 100 years.

“Very few American family businesses continue after two generations‚ yet the winners in the small‚ medium and large business categories have a third generation of family members deeply involved in their businesses‚” says Cox Family Enterprise Center Director Joe Astrachan. “What's more‚ The Cox Century Award winner‚ The Brunswick News‚ has operated for more than a hundred years‚” adds Astrachan‚ who also holds the Wachovia Eminent Scholar Chair of Family Business. “These accomplishments show significant commitments to both family and firm.”

The awards will be given at a banquet Thursday‚ May 20 at the Cobb Galleria Centre. The event is co−sponsored by Georgia Trend magazine‚ which will profile the winners in its May issue. The keynote speaker will be Mr. Peter Francis‚ president and CEO of Edison‚ NJ−based JM Huber‚ an $855 million specialty mineral manufacturer.

Large Category Winner: Benton Express‚ Atlanta‚ GA

In 1934 brothers Lex and B.D. Benton rented a filling station in Atlanta where they pumped gas and served barbecue. They soon began delivering film to theatres in South Georgia. They told theater operators that instead of going to the train station to pick up their film‚ they could just give the brothers their keys and the film would be there when they got to work. Lex’ son−in−law Herb came into the business in 1957‚ and helped triple its revenues by 1973. Deregulation in the 1980s led to the firm becoming a general commodities carrier‚ which expanded into North and South Carolina. Three generations of the family have run the business. Herb remains on the board‚ and his son “Chip” Matthews‚ Jr. is President. Benton Express has 23 locations and more than 600 employees. It boasts 99.7% on time service‚ and counts the customer as King.

Medium Category Winner: Prince Automotive Group‚ Tifton‚ GA

In the 1930s‚ J.B. Prince‚ Jr. began his automotive career in South Carolina. After his death in 1966‚ John Prince‚ III moved to Tifton. Two years later he bought an auto dealership there‚ making him – at age 23 – the youngest Chevrolet dealer in the nation. In the past five years the company has grown from one dealership to a regional group with eight facilities serving South Georgia and parts of North Florida‚ selling Chevrolet‚ Oldsmobile‚ Honda‚ Toyota‚ Mazda‚ Ford and Mercury vehicles as well as heavy trucks. Total sales have increased almost 40% since 1999. The group employs seven family members including John’s wife Betty Jean‚ his children‚ a son−in−law and daughter−in−law. The third generation owns 25% of the company‚ and two Prince children are general managers of dealerships. Mr. Prince chairs the board of Tift Regional Medical Center and the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association’s Workmen’s Compensation Board. His children Heather Stripling‚ Heidi Massey and Jay Prince also dedicate tremendous amounts of time serving on various non−profit boards for the betterment of the community.

Small Category Winner: Woodbury Box Company‚ Thomaston‚ GA

Bill and Evelyn Rudder started Woodbury Box Company in 1946 as a manufacturer of wooden peach boxes. Mrs. Rudder became chairman after her husband’s death in 1984‚ and her daughter Susan Rudder Hall‚ who had a Ph.D. in education‚ became president. Hall had big challenges‚ but very little capital. She negotiated with the state to remediate a hazardous waste site‚ and sold one division of the company. She secured a loan which paid for a new‚ more efficient plant and better technology. This reduced production costs and helped the firm compete with foreign imports. When the recent recession brought hard times‚ everyone kept their jobs and agreed to work four days a week. Profits‚ and the number of employees‚ (47) have remained relatively steady and the company is now on firm footing. The firm has also expanded into new lines‚ including Bloomingwire decorative hanging baskets and accessories. Susan Hall is now Chairman of the Board and CEO. Her son Dan Fuller is President‚ daughter Kim Fuller Sidey is Secretary Treasurer‚ and Matt Fuller is responsible for inventory and purchasing. All three sit on the board. Hall chairs the Thomaston−Upson Chamber of Commerce and is dedicated to improving education in the community.

Cox Century Award Winner: The Brunswick News‚ Brunswick‚ GA

The Brunswick News has been run by four generations of the Leavy family‚ and is now in its 102nd year. C.H. Leavy and his brother Louis founded the Brunswick News in 1902. C.H. was the editor and manager‚ and Louis was city editor. Today C.H. Leavy IV is President/Editor and CEO‚ while his brother Vance Leavy is Executive Vice President and Advertising Director. They retain the same passion for the family business as its founders. The newspaper has survived through two world wars‚ the Depression and natural disasters‚ and never once seen an unprofitable period.

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