Mary, Louis, Donna, Stan and Jim Stephenson

More than fifty years ago the president of Caterpillar, Inc., Harmon S. Eberhard, wrote to Mister Goodloe Yancey, “Through these years, Yancey Bros. Co. has succeeded admirably in balancing its record of ‘seniority’ with an equally fine record of aggressiveness, vigor and growth—qualities often associated with a younger organization. If I could define in a few words the job awaiting the future generations of Yancey Bros. Co., I believe it is just that: to continue to combine the wisdom that comes from long experience in this business with a willingness to change and progress in keeping with the challenge of the future’s markets.”

Today Jim and Donna Yancey Stephenson represent those “future generations.” The son-in-law and daughter to Yancey’s former president, Don Yancey, became the fourth generation of family leadership when Jim was named president and chief executive officer in September 1995. The Stephensons completed their purchase of the company in February 1996 and assumed the responsibility of leading “the Nation’s Oldest Caterpillar Dealer” into its tenth decade of service and beyond. Under Jim’s guidance the company continues to expand its operations and venture into new growth opportunities.

When Jim became president of Yancey Bros. Co., he asked Goodloe Yancey III, who had previously held the same position, for his advice. Goodloe told Jim, “Coming into the business from the outside, you might think success depends on financial acumen, superior products, or the technical differentiation between you and your competitor.

“But, really, it’s all about the people.

“Most people think businesses do business with businesses—corporations with corporations,” Goodloe said. “But all business is done by people with people. Do you have trust and confidence in the people you do business with? Will they do what they say? Will they treat you the way you want to be treated?”

Twenty years later, Jim says Goodloe’s advice has been proven true every day. “Whether you’re talking about your team and your employees,” Jim says, “or your customers, or people who bring the products—Caterpillar, Blue Bird, International—earning their trust and confidence is the key.

“We have a group of people here who feel the same way about serving other people in our industry, whether it’s the person working next to him in the shop or our customers or the manufacturer. At the end of the day they feel good because they’ve had an opportunity to help somebody.

“That’s the only way we will get to another hundred years. We’re not going to change what Goodloe told me. It’s all about the people.”

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