LaGRANGE, Ga.–We live in a world where seemingly everyone is in a rush, and people would rather look at their phones than talk to another human being. Cordiality is all too often being replaced by speed and efficiency.
Gas stations are no exception. We’re so used to just driving up to a pump, swiping a card and driving off that we’ve forgotten what the full-service experience is like, or that there was a full-service experience to begin with.
That is not the case at Woody’s Service Center and U-Haul Dealership, which has been a family-owned full-service gas station and U-Haul Dealership for an incredible 45 years. At Woody’s, not only do they make sure your car is in working order, they treat you as a family friend.
“They’re a landmark in the community. Everybody knows them,” proclaimed Troy Karnes, area field manager (AFM) for UHC of Southern Georgia. “They’re just nice Southern people, good to everybody.”
Three Generations of Service
The business started with Wiley Woody who, after serving four years in the U.S. Air Force, started working in the service station industry in 1963 and settled in LaGrange in 1970. It wasn’t long after that when Woody’s became a U-Haul Dealership.
A family business to the fullest extent, Wiley’s son, Greg, and his grandson, Levi, work alongside the paterfamilias at Woody’s. Even Wiley’s wife of 60 years, Myrna, helps from time to time, especially with the monthly bills.
A lot can change in 45 years, but one thing is constant at Woody’s, and according to Greg Woody, it’s the reason why they’ve been so successful for so long.
“It’s the customer service, the hometown feel,” Greg insisted. “We want to talk to the customers and have a relationship with them. We’re not a station where you just swipe your card and leave. We like to be kind and polite to people, and they’ve learned to trust us.”
Although Woody’s does offer self-service, Wiley says the reason why customers want to keep coming back is that full-service experience.
“Some people still like to come in, get their car serviced and take a few minutes to talk. We enjoy getting to know our customers,” Wiley commented. “We remember their name, clean their windshield and give treats to the little ones in the car.”
“People don’t know what a full-service experience is anymore,” Greg voiced. “We have two big garages for full-service, while most everything that big is being bought up and turned into convenience stores.”
Greg also notes that Woody’s started at a time before self-service, pay-at-the-pump stations became the norm. However, when they caught on they really caught on, and according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) self-service gasoline comprised 80 percent of the U.S. gasoline market by 1987.
Nowadays, the NACS says that number is closer to 90 percent, which makes Woody’s such a valuable piece of their community and to the U-Haul Team.
“My marketing company president, Tony Fretwell, AFMs and I had the pleasure of presenting Woody’s Service Center their 45-year award, and when I say pleasure I mean just that,” emphasized Ginny Romo, traffic control manager at Co. 779. “They go above and beyond for their customers and are just wonderful to work with.”
So if you ever find yourself in LaGrange, put your phone in your pocket and spend some time at Woody’s Service Center for a nice slice of Southern hospitality.
Are there any long-standing businesses that have become an integral part of your community the way Woody’s has? Tell us about it in the comments.