Goodloe and Earle Yancey opened for business in 1914, the decade when livery stables were being converted into automobile garages across the nation. Initially they sold hardware, picks, shovels, prison uniforms (stripes), and other tools and equipment to government agencies, primarily counties, for road construction and maintenance.
At about the same time, assembly-line manufacture of automobiles began to drive down the cost of ownership, allowing millions of Americans to get behind the wheel. With new cars on the roads, counties would need more and better equipment for maintenance. Any mechanized equipment would have to wait, however, as war broke out in Europe and production capacity would be needed abroad. On January 1, 1919, seven weeks after the war ended, Goodloe and Earle became the nation’s first authorized Dealer of the Caterpillar tractor, built by Holt Manufacturing Company.
The brothers opened their headquarters at 134 Marietta Street, in a building that backed up to the Western and Atlantic Railroad. (The location is across Olympic Park Drive from the current CNN Center downtown.) A sign of the times: Yancey’s next-door neighbor was Goldwin’s Harness Manufacturing, a company that would be out of business three years later.
The brothers’ business, on the other hand, quickly outgrew the Marietta Street building, and in 1921 they moved to a new location at 550-556 Whitehall Street. The new building was ninety-two feet wide and more than two hundred feet deep, giving Yancey Bros. Co. almost half an acre of floor space, the largest building of its kind in the Southeast, according to the Atlanta Constitution.
The business continued to grow, and in 1925 Holt merged with Best Tractor Co. to become the Caterpillar Tractor Company. About the same time the Yancey territory was reduced from four southeastern states (Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina) to Georgia.
In 1927 the brothers split the territory, with Goodloe operating the company for the eighty-three counties in the northern half of the state as Yancey Bros., Inc., and Earle operating out of Albany as the Yancey Tractor Company for the southern half of Georgia. Joining Earle in Albany as general manager of his company was another brother, L. D. Yancey, the father of a future generation of Yancey brothers, Don and Goodloe III. Don A. Yancey, a nephew of Goodloe, began his career in 1936 working for Earle and his father, L. D., as a salesman with the Yancey Tractor Co. in Albany.
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Foundations 1914 - 1938