B T South History

The Founder's Story

I’m Alan Carroll, founder of B T South. My life has been a blessed life starting with being born in the greatest country in the world to a loving Christian home here in Guilford County in 1967 to Ed Carroll, public school teacher & Elizabeth Carroll, stay at home mom. In addition to faith and trust in God, they placed importance on learning work ethic and responsibility. With acres of gardens, a few cattle and a home heated with wood, we were seldom idle.

I attended Western Guilford High School and NC A&T State University, graduating in 1989 and worked numerous jobs during high school & college. They included being a gofer at a garden center, stock boy at a building supply store, tile setter's helper, student school bus driver, rodman on a land surveying crew, mechanical draftsman, blueprint reader at a precast concrete company and a jobsite administrative assistant for an industrial piping contractor.

There have been too many blessings along the way to count, but one turning point was being laid off my full time job in 1991. It was during a recession and there were not many opportunities before me, which led me to self employment, a direction I’m not sure I would have found without the absence of other opportunities.

In 2000 I met Florentina, the love of my life.

In 2003 realizing our current business, which consisted of several retail stores selling Nextel wireless phones was a diminishing opportunity as an independent dealer, I started a new business on High Point Road in Greensboro, originally named Branson Tractor South. The initial product was compact tractors, but soon after opening, the Toro distributor, looking for a dealer in the area, happened to drive by our store and approached me about being a Toro dealer. It is amazing how God opens doors in his own timing. Without Toro the business would have almost certainly closed. While I had not planned on being in the lawnmower business, the building I had leased had been used as a lawnmower shop up until about three years prior to me leasing it. This meant many of our potential customers were already familiar with our location and knew where to find us.

It seemed the right staff came along at the right time as each were needed. Florentina quit her full time job at Harris Teeter and joined me working full time managing the wireless business allowing me more time for the new venture. By 2010 we had exited the wireless business allowing us both to put full focus on B T South. We were blessed with amazing growth for four years, but reached a point where we just couldn’t grow much more without a larger facility. There was also pending road construction that would permanently reduce accessibility and threatened the future of the business.

After pursuing numerous dead ends that didn’t work out for one reason or another, mostly affordability, we saw a vacant building at the corner of I-85 & Groometown Road that I just knew would be ideal. There was no signage indicating it was for sale, but I looked up the owner in Guilford County records and mailed a letter to the owner in Richmond VA. It was owned by 100 year old J. Harwood Cochrane, founder of Overnite Transportation Company. It turned out Mr. Cochrane’s grandson had been in Greensboro just a week earlier meeting with realtors and planning to list the property for sale. We reached an agreeable price, despite other potential buyers having offered more, and after three banks had declined to finance the purchase and many prayers, by some miracle the loan was finally approved and the purchase occurred.

Moving to the new location was just what the business needed to continue growth and success with more showroom area, more parts area, a much larger service shop, more warehouse allowing the storage of mower inventory indoors, more parking, and more space throughout allowing for a much more efficient operation. In 2017 we were proud to be Toro's highest volume single retail location in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Transitioning from being a tenant to an owner has made it practical to invest in our property. In late 2023 an addition was completed that nearly doubled our 21,000 square foot facility to 41,000 square feet, allowing us to continue to grow and operate efficiently.

Over the years we have been offered the opportunity to be a dealer for 29 different brands of zero turn mowers. Having started off with a premium brand like TORO that is so strong across consumer and commercial categories, we just didn't have much interest in taking on a lot of other brands. However, there was one brand that I thought to myself if it were to ever be available I would jump at the opportunity. That brand was SCAG. Having a healthy, friendly nearby competitor who had held the SCAG brand for roughly 30 years, I didn't think there was any chance that we would ever have it, which was fine. But on February 22nd 2024 I received a phone call during which I was shocked to learn that this local competitor was giving up the SCAG brand. There are no two zero turn brands on the planet we would rather have than TORO & SCAG, and needless to say, we are thankful to now have them both. The timing could not have been better since we had just finished a 20,000 square foot expansion.

In some ways, building a successful business is like building a collection. A collection of the right brands, the right facilities, tools and systems, the right staff, and building relationships with the right customers.

We thank God for his many blessings including health, wisdom, competent loyal staff and the many doors opened and opportunities put before us. Also for the many loyal customers without which none of this could have come to be.

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