A&A Electric has supported the needs of Cornelia and the town’s surrounding counties since Herschel and Runette Ansley opened it in 1969. When Hershel retired in 1991, the next generation of Ansleys stepped in, running the multi-pronged business while their mom continued as comptroller. Greg Ansley took over as general manager of A&A Electric’s HVAC and wiring lines in 1998. His siblings had spun off another company – Ansley Communications – to provide business telephone and computer networking services. Greg planned to run A&A just like his father had run it, sing the paper forms and practicing bidding procedures that had served them well for so long. However, the world was going digital. And during the next decade, two major recessions effectively ended much of the commercial development the business had supported.

By 2010, Greg knew it was time to update A&A’s business processes. He met with District Director Ron Simmons, then the area director for the Gainesville office of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center. “Greg was running into difficulties with collections, decreased profitability due to the economy and possible bidding performance issues,” Simmons says. “He was still bidding jobs on a paper bid sheet that his father had developed more than 30 years earlier when there was a lot less competition in the region.”

Simmons helped Greg examine the company’s financial records and did some trend analysis. “We looked at whether his sales were going up or down, how his expenses related to sales, and how these compared as they went up or down. We also benchmarked his numbers to industry standards to see how he was stacking up,” says Simmons. “We did all that to figure out where he was at that moment, March 2010. “We took his bid sheet and plugged it into Excel to speed up the bidding process. We created a spreadsheet and plugged in his target profit. Then, every two-to-three months he’d go into the financials and update costs for labor, supplies, insurance, etc. That information showed Greg when he had to increase his price or go shop for a better price for his materials and services.” “We knew the numbers and were close, but we didn’t know, absolutely, what our overhead was,” says Greg. “Ron helped us come up with a good bid sheet that makes sure we cover overhead and make a profit. Through him, I learned to keep an eye on the bottom line and watch prices to make sure we make some money.”

This new bidding process freed Greg to market his business. He attended the UGA SBDC’s Maximum Marketing and FastTrac® courses to increase his marketing and business management skills and then started looking at Google placements with Simmons. A&A was again showing a profit in 2011. By January 2012, Greg had cut overhead by more than $4,000 a month. The company now serves clients in six northeast Georgia counties and has added five employees. In 2014, Simmons helped Greg develop a PowerPoint proposal that would allow A&A Electric to be a Home Depot service vendor. His company now sells, installs and services HVAC equipment out of three Home Depot locations.

“My work with the SBDC has helped me be more focused on the part of the business no one sees,” says Greg. “And in their classes, I found out that I’m not the only one that has learned through the SBDC how important it is to keep an eye on that part of the business.”

“Greg is successful because he’s smart about learning new things,” says Simmons. “Even though his company had built a substantial business on reputation and doing good work, he understood that he needed to engage new technologies and manage it by the numbers, and he was willing to do it.”