Gordys named Citizens of the Year
By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
Joe and Carol Gordy are the latest to be awarded the distinction of being named Citizens of the Year. They were given the award during the annual banquet held by the Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce Feb. 26, 2004. Mayor Ted Jennings presented the award to the couple and in doing so said, "These people have done so much in this community, it's hard to list everything."
Although the Gordys have only been in Brewton for a few short years, they have taken an interest in their new hometown which far exceeds most newcomers. They not only moved their business here but they also got involved in the community.
Both Joe and Carol share this interest and have made some remarkable changes in the downtown area that make one proud to be a citizen of the community. They have also become unofficial ambassadors for Brewton, spreading the word of our small town to those throughout the country.
Joe is President of National Decorations, Inc. and Carol in the Chairman and CEO. They brought their company to Brewton in 1999 and have made it into one of the most prestigious companies in the country. NDI is one of the world's foremost creators of floral and botanical reproductions. Their works are showcased in some of the most well known tourist attractions in the United States. Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. has very beautiful gardens of its own, but they feature the creations of NDI. Williamsburg, Va. has been known for years as a tourist attraction as to what our country's early heritage was like, and they, too, have arranged to showcase both the floral and botanical arrangements made right here in Brewton.
When the Gordys first came to Brewton, one of their first retail businesses was The Cracked Pot where they were able to sell their creations at reasonable prices to the public. They have since opened the Paris Market and revitalized a part of historic downtown Brewton that has seen better days.
What most people may not realize is the fact that tour buses are making regular stops to tour the facilities at NDI and are then stopping downtown for the tourists to be able to make purchases. This is benefiting not only the businesses owned by the Gordys but others as well. Downtown is seeing a resurgence of pride and others are jumping on the bandwagon. Before this year is over, there are big changes coming that will benefit the whole community.
Carol is the driving force for some of the changes being made and her wishes include keeping the atmosphere and beauty of the historic section of downtown alive.
Joe Gordy is the Chairman of the Brewton Tree and Beautification Board which is making some pretty significant changes to the area as well. The Tree and Beautification Board has been responsible for the building and maintenance of Burnt Corn Park, the Brewton City Park and the beautiful hanging flower baskets along the streets, not to mention the mural on the side of the building next to the message center. They also maintain Union Cemetery and many other projects that sometimes get little notice or recognition.
Joe is an internationally known florist. Not only has he been a judge in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, (as has Carol), but he was selected to decorate the White House for Christmas in 1984, 1985 and 1986. He was also the designer for the Statue of Liberty's rededication ceremony in 1986. He has a degree in horticulture from Mississippi State University and has designed for many floral magazines including Flowers &Florist Magazine and the Southern Living Christmas Book.
He was born in Morton, Miss. and knew that he wanted to do something with flowers as his life's work and worked toward that end in college. He has since written for any number of horticultural magazines and appeared on numerous design panels and symposiums. He was inducted into the American Institute of Floral Designers and has been president of that organization.
Carol was born in Dublin, Texas and grew up in Albuquerque, N.M. She attended Universidad de las Americas in Mexico City, Mexico for a while.
At the age of 20 she bought her first flower shop.
By the time she was 27 she owned three flower shops. She got interested in designing and it was at a show where she first met Joe. He was there representing the Neilson Company which was located in Evergreen. He was the Director of Product Development with Neilson.
They had already moved to Brewton by that time and it seemed like a good idea to move the business here also. They were able to sell their building in Evergreen back to Neilson.
They opened in Brewton in 1999 and a year later expanded to 130,000 square feet and today employ over a hundred employees.
The Gordys are great business people, but their love for the community they live in is even more impressive. There is no doubt that they have fallen in love with Brewton.
The Gordys have a good working relationship. She is more involved in the business end and he works more in design. Many of his designs are taken from the many orchids that are grown in their own greenhouse.
One more immediate project that is a favorite of Joe Gordy's is the murals planned for downtown. The next mural project is about to get underway and everyone in the Tree and Beautification Board is very excited to see Wes Hardin back in town.
Both of the Gordy's are very proud of their new Citizen's Award, although they say they don't understand why they should have received it. Maybe that is the reason. Sometimes humility is a good thing.