Jerry Doyal is the owner of Doyal’s, a party supply store, and Doyal’s Costume Rental.
“On the Job With ...” is a regular feature of Sunday Inc. Today’s Q&A session conducted by Jim West is with Jerry Doyal, owner of Doyal’s on Oglethorpe and Doyal’s Costume Rental, Village Green Shopping Center.
Q. What was your first job?
A. Bagging groceries at the Harveys on Slappey and carrying them to people’s cars. We worked by the hour and for tips. It’s not the way you do it these days.
Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first paycheck?
A. I might have spent some of it on the movies. It was just 15 cents to get in back then. I think I gave my mama some of it for clothes. There wasn’t a lot of money in the early ‘50s.
Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?
A. I don’t have so many working for me as I did, but when people do a good job I tell them about it. They work harder. My mama used to tell me you catch more flies with sugar than with salt.
Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?
A. I can’t think of anything else I would have done. One way or another, this is what my family has done going back to the early 1800s and the mercantile store my great-grandfather, Hardy Doyal, had in Augusta.
Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?
A. My mama and daddy. My mother always said that good luck has two partners: hard work and watching the store.
Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?
A. Be careful with your money. Be real tight with it and be sure to watch the store. Be careful not to buy what you don’t really need. I like to be seen by my customers, too, whether I’m needed or not. When they can see “Mr. Doyal” in the store, they just feel better about things.
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. Automated phone calls worry me to pieces — getting calls from people I don’t know trying to sell me something.
Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?
A. Computers in general are the best technology we have. It’s taken the place of a typewriter, mail and some other things, too.
Q. What is your favorite tradition?
A. Without a doubt it’s the involvement of my family working in the business year after year. I’m the sole owner, but I have children who will take it over when I’m gone.
Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?
A. Other than the Bible, I don’t read an awful lot, but lately I did read “Heaven Is for Real” on Kindle. My wife, Joy, was reading it before she died. It’s about a 4-year-old boy who goes to heaven and comes back to tell about it.
Q. I’m up and going by? And what is your morning routine?
A. I get up at 7 o’clock each morning and fix coffee, then go outside to read a devotional and talk to God for a few moments. I enjoy the crisp mornings we’ve been having.
Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and why?
A. I wouldn’t ever want to just go up and talk to someone who didn’t want to talk with me. But I wouldn’t mind having a casual conversation with most any sports figure from a team that’s really good. Musicians would be the same. I admire them for their abilities.
Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?
A. I fish a lot and I play tennis three or four times a week. I like to watch sports on TV.
Q. Best thing about your job?
A. I like working with people every day, but the very best thing is the idea of my family working together like it has for 200-plus years.
Q. Worst thing about your job?
A. The worst thing is how hot it gets in the warehouse every summer.
Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?
A. Math. Statistics are really important in my business, so math comes in really handy. I always excelled at math.
Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?
A. To be a sports coach or at least something to do with professional sports. I appreciate being in Albany’s Sports Hall of Fame, and I think that sports gave me a discipline in life that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
Q. Finish this thought: On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …
A. Traveling, fishing, going to the YMCA and playing tennis. Just staying active.
Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?
A. A strong leader must have a vision for change. The only thing that does not change is change itself, and you have to flexible enough to handle it.
Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?
A. I’m not an economist, but I think the recovery should be back within two years. Businesses, as we have known them in the past, will not be the same. There will be changes in the way we do business. Technology will change us, and we will have to conform to a new way.
Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?
A. I don’t own an iPod, but I enjoy listening to the radio and rock and roll from the 1950s.
Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?
A. As I mentioned before, technology and the way we do business. Debit cards are a recent example. I hardly ever get a bad check anymore.
Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?
A. All of the family vacations with my family when the children were small were great. Seeing (the children) brought back my childhood.
Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?
A. The biggest changes have been in computers, online banking and paying bills on line. Debit cards are great for business people. I do feel that online purchases are also a big change. They hurt local people who pay for business licenses and property taxes. Also, the city of Albany doesn’t get the sales tax revenue it deserves.