When Loy A. Waters, Sr. and his wife Ruth Coleman Waters opened L.A. Waters Furniture in 1934, they knew they had created something special. But I would guess that they may be a little surprised to see the business thriving nearly 90 years later with the fourth generation of Waters family in the business.
Loy and Ruth’s son Si was born the same year they opened the store. At 89, Si Waters continues to be the first one at the downtown store and many days the last to leave.
In 1963, Si convinced his dad to purchase their first building, the old State Theater at 8 W. Main Street. Si renovated the store himself. One year later the store was destroyed by fire.
L.A. Waters III (Anthony) was 5. He remembers it like it was yesterday.
"My most vivid memory was moving the furniture that was salvaged from the fire, most of it with water spots and heat damage back down the street to the old store front," said Anthony Waters. "Our customers and friends came and purchased the damaged furniture to help give our family the money to rebuild."
Anthony joined the business full-time after graduating from Georgia Southern College in 1982 and helped open the newest location of L.A. Waters on Lovett Road and oversaw several expansions of the business. Including the opening of “I Save More Furniture and Mattress Store” on Northside Drive East.
Loy and Lee Waters
Even though there was never an expectation that Anthony’s sons would join the business, in 2017, L.A. (Loy) Waters, IV joined the business and in 2019 his brother Lee Waters came on board. Both Loy and Lee graduated from Bulloch Academy and Georgia Southern. The brothers are excited about the opportunity to continue the Waters' furniture legacy.
“When in Mrs. Lynn Reeves kindergarten class she asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I responded that I wanted to be a furniture man,” said Loy Waters.
For Lee, he made the decision when he entered business school at GS. They boys had worked in all aspects of the business through their school years, both starting off in delivering furniture.
“When I graduated from college dad (Anthony) gave me one week of vacation and then told me to report to work. I have been here ever since,” said Lee Waters. “I believe that God has a plan for each of us and his plan for me was to join the family business.”
Si entered UGA with plans to become a veterinarian and graduated with a degree in agriculture. Anthony began GS with a plan to become a veterinarian, he graduated with a business degree. Interestingly, Loy received early admission to UGA and was considering becoming a veterinarian. He accepted an offer to play football at GS and graduated with a marketing degree. Even though three generations were tempted to follow a different path, in the end they all chose to continue the Waters Furniture legacy.
Grounded by a legacy of success
While the brothers are excited about making their mark on the family business they are grounded by past success. They understand that Statesboro is a very competitive furniture market and internet shopping is increasing. However, if they remain focused on providing customers with quality furniture backed up with quality service it will continue to provide them the competitive advantage that sets them apart.
They are both enjoying working at the West Main store location and having the opportunity to spend time with their grandfather Si.
Refreshing and updating the West Main location has been a goal for the brothers which they hope to have completed in time for the businesses 90th anniversary next year.
“We understand that styles need to be continuously updated because that is something that always changes”, said Loy Waters. “The manor and tools in which we do business change all the time as well but the principles and the way we do business should never change. We must always remember we are in the people business who deal in furniture.”
The brothers love how close knit the employees are and how the entire team helps deploy their customers first approach.
“Even though many of the members of our team do not have the Waters name, they are all family to us,” said Loy Waters. “They are a key ingredient to our success and they all do uncommon things, uncommonly well everyday. Our team has been a critical key to our success and allows us to continue to scale the business.”
Both Loy and Lee can add newly wed to their growing titles of responsibility. Loy married Ramsey Rigdon on October 29, 2022 and Lee married Anna Snooks on December 3, 2022.
Loy and Lee understand the components of the families success which are rooted in traditions and legacy and are excited about what the future holds for them and their families.