TIFTON -- Jay Short remembers sweeping the aisles of his family's store when he was a little boy. And earlier this week, he watched as his son Jackson played storekeeper in front of the same store. It's that kind of family tradition that has made Short and Paulk one of Tifton's best success stories.

The business celebrated its 60th anniversary this week with a series of events on Friday and Saturday designed to thank customers and employees.

"We started out with three employees and our phone number was 97," Short said. "Now we've got about 70 employees spread out all over South Georgia. Eighteen of our salespeople have been here 10 years or longer and have 337 years of combined service. I think our people make a difference and this is really a celebration for them."

The business now focuses on lumber and building materials and a large portion of its business comes from contract builders. But if someone came in off the street looking for a can of paint, they can find it there too.

Short takes pride in the business because it is in his blood. His great-grandfather came to Tifton in 1910 and worked at Taylor Hardware and Furniture which was located where the Tift Theatre is now. That store eventually went out of business during the Depression before Short's grandfather J.P. Short III and H.M. Paulk started their business in 1941.

Back then, the store sold feed and seed, fertilizer and building materials. They also sold farm implements including mule-drawn plows.

Today, Jordan Short is the president of the company while Jay it the vice-president. And as the times have changed, so has the business.

"We're always striving to do different things," Jay said. "We have salesmen on the road calling on customers and we have a website now. Soon, people will be able to order from the website and charge it to their Short and Paulk account. That way, we can ship it from the 25,000 to 30,000 items we have in inventory here or we can ship it from one of our vendors."

In 1999, the business was named the Georgia Family Business of the Year by Kennesaw State University and Georgia Trend magazine.

"The biggest thing for us is our service level," Short said. "Other businesses can compete with us on price although we're competitive. But it's our people that make a difference. We've been here for 60 years and we're going to be here a lot longer."

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