Anne Gray is the co-owner of Hadden's Flowers & Gifts in Albany.
ALBANY, Ga. — One of Albany’s older businesses, Hadden’s Flowers & Gifts began in 1936 as a downtown florist shop owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hadden.
NAME: Anne Gray
POSITION: Co-owner, Hadden's Flowers.
FAMILY: Married to Randy; one adult daughter, Jessica, 31.
EDUCATION: Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.
Since 1994, Hadden’s has been owned by Anne Gray and her husband, Randy. They acquired it from her parents, Connie and Alice Adams.
Anne Gray started out to be a teacher, studying early childhood and elementary education. While taking classes, she met Randy Gray, a business major at Georgia Southwestern State University, and the two of them entered the floral business, continuing the family tradition.
Anne Gray recently shared a question-and-answer session with reporter Jim West.
Q. What was your first job?
A. With JCPenney Co. I was going to school at the time and I needed to earn a little extra money for expenses, so I would go back and forth on the weekends and work to help my parents out.
Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first paycheck?
A. I was looking forward to a trip to the Holy Land. I was going there in my senior year in high school, so I decided to spend my first paycheck on luggage.
Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found during the past two years for keeping employees motivated?
A. I like for my employees to know they’re an essential part of this business and I do pass along all the compliments on all the arrangements they design. I let them know when they’re doing a good job.
Q. What led you to your current position?
Why did you want to operate your own business?
A. It’s a family business. My parents retired. I had worked for them for a time before that and we thought it might be a good idea for us to start our own business. We went ahead and took it after they retired and we’ve had it ever since.
Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?
A. My parents were my most important role models. But I don’t have any specific role model at this time because I like to watch everyone who’s successful in this business and take note of what they’re doing.
Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?
A. To find out what my customers need the most and try to meet their needs, because they change every year. If we have a recession going on I need to offer things that people can afford and still enjoy flowers.
Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology – examples email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. – what would you most like to see go away?
A. I’d probably say the text messages and that’s because I like to talk one on one with people and find out what they like and what they know. You can just learn about a person a lot better face to face.
Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?
A. I would say our “snips.” They’re like scissors and we use them for everything in the shop. We cut wire, paper, anything we want. They’re essential.
Q. What is your favorite tradition?
A. Christmas time. I love putting up Christmas trees.
Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?
A. I like to read my Bible and the newspaper daily, and I also read to try to keep up with our industry. Just by reading you find out what other people are doing.
Q. I’m up and going by ... and what is your morning routine?
A. I usually get up around 7 and then I have everything to prepare before getting to work.
Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and why?
A. I would like to meet Billy Graham. I think he’s a God-fearing man and I think he has a lot of wisdom for his years. He could teach me a lot.
Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?
A. I like to sew and work in the yard — do some things for my family.
Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?
A. We moved Hadden’s to a shopping center once. I would not do that again because at the time I didn’t know that people would rather come to a stand-alone store. We’ve really enjoyed the location we have here.
Q. Best thing about your job?
A. We make people happy with our flowers. They make any occasion happier. We love doing it.
Q. Worst thing about your job?
A. We can never plan for anything personal. Any time we make plans, they could change because things at the business change.
Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?
A. That’s hard to say, but I think English grammar because communicating with people is so important, whether you’re writing or whether you’re talking to them.
Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?
A. I’m a teacher at heart. I went to school to be a teacher, but then decided I wanted to be in this business because it was creative as well. So I think I would like to tutor small children at reading and help them with their reading disabilities.
Q. Finish this thought: “On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …”
A. I would like to travel and see things I’ve never seen before, within the United States and without.
Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?
A. Patience. Every day is different and you have to have patience to meet the problems of the day.
Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?
A. I think after we get the elections behind us things will get a lot better.
Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?
A. I like Oldies music. I don’t think we can change the music that we had, and I just love it.
Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?
A. I think we’re going to have more industries, and different industries we never had in Albany. I hope that will help in our recovery from the recession.
Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
A. My husband and I took a cruise to Alaska and we really enjoyed that because it was so peaceful. Totally different scenery, like nothing I’d ever seen.