60 Seconds With Donald Sprayberry
by Clay Neely
What is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had as a business owner?
Being third generation, its very rewarding to own a business — to me and my brother. We’ve been able to carry that on. We’ve watched other businesses come and go, as it’s hard to compete with big business now.
It’s very rewarding to look at some of the employees who have come through here, see where they started and learn where they wound up. You like to think that you played a little bit of a positive role in their lives. This is a family-oriented business and we hope our employees here feel like family.
What is the furthest you have ever shipped your product?
Let’s see...well, we shipped our food all the way to Vietnam during the war. We would can it and send it to the troops. I’d also say Japan. A Japanese executive was visiting the area once and loved the fried pies so much that we have had them shipped over there as well.
Is there a balance of tradition and progress in your business model?
One of the things that keeps us unique, is that people want to come back here and feel like nothing has changed. People often say “nothing ever changes at Sprayberry’s.”
However, if you went back over a period of 15 to 20 years, you would likely notice many changes — we just try to do them in such a slow way, people don’t recognize them. You have to keep up with certain aspects of the business though. One example would be computerizing the sales. In the past, we’d always used written checks, now we enter everything into the computer. People probably don’t really notice it all that much though.
Is there a single word that expresses the secret of longevity here?
I don’t think there’s a single word. I think you need two things: good employees and a good product. If the food isn’t good, people aren’t going to come — it doesn’t matter how nostalgic you make it. Having employees that are happy and like their job, that’s paramount.