20 Under 40 Feature: Will SummerlinPublished 3:10pm Monday, July 29, 2013
Fresh out of college, Will Summerlin, manager of Summerlin Hardware & Supply, said like many people before him, he’s learned more in his first few years of work than in all of his years in college.
Summerlin graduated with a degree in business accounting from the University of Alabama, and said the lessons he learned in school can’t compare with the daily lessons he learns at his hardware store.
“Whether it is keeping the finances with this business or any of our other businesses, dealing with the government and dealing with paying taxes, you realize how much of your money goes out in taxes. You step in a business owners shoes for a week and pay some of the bills, you understand the struggles that they go through and how hard it is for them to keep their employees paid everyday and to keep the business and the doors open. It’s a daily struggle,” Summerlin said. “That’s one thing that I wish more people would realize — how hard it is to run a small business and how hard it is to keep a business going when every time you turn around money and expenses are going out.”
Summerlin took over his dad’s hardware store more than two years ago and was instrumental in helping the store get up and running again after it had gone bankrupt, making improvements both inside and outside the building.
“The city’s helped us with the sidewalks and the amphitheater downtown and all — it hasn’t been all us. They’ve been encouraging us,” Summerlin said. “There’s been a lot of encouragement out there for young people to get involved and try to make a difference.”
Summerlin said with the increased encouragement for young people to get involved, Selma is beginning to see progress.
“[Selma] has a lot of potential, it’s just suffered over the last so many years for different reasons, but I believe that with the businesses downtown — especially all of us on this corner of Water Avenue — we are trying really hard to improve,” he said.
Summerlin said he’d like to encourage young people not to give up on Selma, because he knows first hand that the young people are the future.
“The future is the young people coming out of high school. That’s what we’ve got to focus on, is encouraging the young people to stay getting them to stay here and keep their families here and find jobs in the area,” he said. “I like is to see myself as encouraging others that this is a nice place. We try to be encouraging that businesses can flourish in downtown Selma.”
Summerlin said it’s up to the residents of Selma though to make these local businesses a success.
“I think they want it just as bad as I do. They want to see this area get turned around,” he said. “They try to see any way that they can help local businesses. You see them start migrating towards us instead of heading to the other side of town. We try to do all our business here, and we try to promote local, because without local, this city will never make it, and more and more people are realizing that that is basically the future.”