Wayne Williford was one of the most surprised honored persons attending the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce's 38th Annual Members Banquet at Belle Meade Country Club on Tuesday night.
"I didn't think anybody even liked me," laughed Mr. Williford, a longtime local businessman in Thomson after he was named the group's Small Business Person of The Year. "When we came here, we had nothing."
Mr. Williford, who started a pawn shop when he first opened a business on Washington Road near Thomson back in 1986, started out with just 51 guns and $3,000 in cash. Today, he owns a shopping center and has vested interests in several local businesses.
He attributed much of his success to his business partner, Chris Adams, who operates Sunset Auto Sales Inc.
Mr. Williford thanked his wife and his sons for their support of his business ventures through the years.
Charlie Lewis, owner of Carriage Lane Realty Company in Thomson and a longtime friend of Mr. Williford, described Mr. Williford as a hustling type businessman.
"Hustle is doing something that everyone is absolutely certain can't be done," said Mr. Lewis prior to announcing publicly that Mr. Williford had been named the 2009 Small Business Person of The Year. "Hustle is getting the order because you got there first or stayed with it after everyone else gave up. Hustle is shoe leather and elbow grease and sweat and missing lunch.
"Hustle is getting prospects to say, 'yes,' after they've said, 'no' 20 times. Hustle is doing more unto a customer than the other guy is doing unto him. Hustle is believing in yourself and the business you're in. Hustle is the sheer joy of winning. Hustle is being the sorest loser in town. Hustle is hating to take a vacation because you might miss a piece of the action. Hustle is Heaven, if you're a hustler. Hustle is hell, if you're not.
"This hustling individual and his family took two pieces of nonproducing property -- one an old antiquated building that had lost most of its functional utility -- the other, a vacant shell."
The end result: Five new businesses were born in McDuffie County.
Mr. Williford vows to continue to hustle and become even more successful in the future.