To get to where you want to be in life, you must first exert many hours of hard work and remain dedicated to your goals. That is exactly what husband and wife, James and Cathy Smiley, have done for the past 32 years.
The pair started Smiley’s Audio Visual Inc. with a tool box and a dream. “When we first started, we did repairs only. We would pick up broken audio equipment from schools and return them repaired.”
After five years of perfecting repairs, the Smileys ventured into sales. With this came a broader target market. They were now not only serving schools, but churches and other businesses as well.
Cathy soon quit her job to work for the growing business full time. This risky decision proved to be the correct one, as James put it, “She has always worked in bookkeeping and accounting, so it was perfect.”
Present day, Smiley’s Audio Visual Inc. specializes in providing complete audio visual solutions for education, business and industry, house of worship, and government in both Florida and Georgia.
The Smiley’s are very involved with the Polk County School Board. As Cathy shared with us, “They’ve got a special place in our heart. Every year for the video awards we contribute towards the equipment and we purchase trophies for the kids who get awards during the video ceremony. We enjoy supporting our local school board.”
James has worked very hard over the years to build a business that offers solutions to every customer. He spoke about this with great passion. “When we walk into a business, we want to be their solution. We want to be able to offer them everything- from the simplest products, to the most extravagant. We want to offer it all to our customers.”
The Smileys take great pride in what they do, and that shows through their ongoing success. James elaborated on this, “We are very selective in the products we represent, so that we can offer the best value for the dollar for our customers. We take a lot of time to analyze and experiment with products to ensure that we are offering our customers the most effective products available. We do not want to ever oversell people.”
Both James and Cathy agree that building relationships is top priority. “We’re always looking for new customers, but we’re looking more to keep our old customers. We work hard to build relationships that will last. It’s not about today; it’s about long-term relationships.”
For over 27 years the Smileys have trusted Bartow Ford to handle all of their automotive needs. James recalls the beginning of this business-to-business relationship, “Back when we were just a repair shop, we would take our company vehicles to Bartow Ford for service. Everyone there has always given us great service. The Quick Lane always gives us a competitive price. Monte Barham is our sales guy, and he has truly been great over the years. He is honest and has a lot of integrity. We know that he is going to take care of us when we are purchasing vehicles. He knows what we like, and he always keeps us informed on new models as they come out. Bartow Ford shares the same business ethics as we do, and that is why we feel so comfortable there.”