The 63-year-old owner of Allied Printing in Martinez spent most of the 1970s and 1980s working in textile plants in Georgia and South Carolina.
Allied Printing is the company's new name. Mr. Anderson recently ended his 16-year affiliation with Franklin's Printing.
"I wanted to go it alone because I always had that entrepreneurial spirit," Mr. Anderson said.
It's a spirit that runs in the family. His father, Alan Anderson Sr., had several businesses, from a dry cleaner to a turkey farm in Warrenton, Ga. His brother, John, owns an optical business in Augusta.
Mr. Anderson got a taste of running a business early in his life, spending the weekends at age 10 selling peanuts for his grandfather in front of a dry goods store.
"From peanuts to printing," he said.
While he's waiting for a replacement sign for the front of the store, the machinery putting ink to paper continues as usual inside the six-person business.
"We have a little bit of walk-in traffic," he said, in large part because of the nearby Martinez post office. "That's a good draw for this area around here."
The print shop moved to the commercial strip near the post office in 2001. Before then, the former Franklin's Printing was in the Kmart shopping center, where the Andersons took it over in 1993.
"A lot of paper has gone out that door," said wife Kathy Anderson. "We started out with no customers. We had moved here from LaGrange. ... In the 16 years, we've done good."
She lets her husband be the salesman.
"Alan is a people person. He really likes to stay in touch with the people he's met throughout his lifetime, even going back to high school," brother John said.
John Anderson said his older brother confounds him with the ability to recognize a face and remember meeting people as long ago as the 1970s.
"He doesn't know a stranger," said Jeff Asselin, a former employee who has kept in touch with Mr. Anderson.
Most of the Andersons' customers are local businesses, although there are some orders coming in from outside the metro area.
There's growth planned for the company. Mr. Anderson is hunting for a new salesman.
"I want somebody with a good personality to go knock on some doors," he said.
Mr. Anderson said he thought taking over a franchise in 1993 was a prudent move because he had not been in that industry before. Changing from Franklin's Printing to his own Allied Printing in January seemed like the right move.
Mr. Anderson was born in 1946. He was the first of three children born to Elizabeth and Alan Sr., delivered in the old University Hospital. He grew up in Warrenton.
His father ran several businesses, producing concrete blocks, dry cleaning and raising turkeys. He then went to work in civil service at Fort Gordon as a telephone repairman, getting in because of his service during World War II in the Signal Corps.
Mr. Anderson said his grandfather, a peach grower who opened a dry goods store in Warrenton, got him a peanut-parching machine when he was 10 years old.
In the mid-1950s, all the people in the country went into town on Saturday.
"I started roasting at 9 a.m. Saturdays. I'd sell them for 10 cents a bag on the street in front of the store," he recalled.
Selling $100 in roasted peanuts a day was a good day.
He had to keep a ledger of his income and expenses.
"Working for him was a good training ground more than he knew," Mr. Anderson said.
He lost interest in selling peanuts after he was old enough to drive. His time was occupied with baseball, football and hunting.
At 14, he was old enough to start hunting. His father bought him a shotgun. Some of his first hunting trips were to shoot doves with his grandfather on the farm property.
"It's illegal to shoot birds like that today, but back then it wasn't an issue," Mr. Anderson said.
Though his father and brother raised bird dogs, Mr. Anderson went in a different directions, raising dogs to help him hunt rabbits.
He had to part with his rabbit dogs when it came time to go to college. The rest of the family hunted quail, so he gave them to a friend.
"They'll take to whomever takes care of them," he said.
Mr. Anderson wanted to attend the University of Georgia. He didn't get in, so his mother suggested her alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus.
He thought he would spend a year or two in Americus and then transfer to UGA, but he liked the college.
"I helped put together a fraternity, took it national, made some lifelong friends that still meet," he said.
His major was biology, but the degree was education.
"In 1969, if you were in college and didn't keep your grades up, you went to carry an M16 in Vietnam," Mr. Anderson said. "I wanted to go into the Air Force on my terms. I kept my grades up, then joined."
Because he had a degree in biology, the Air Force trained Mr. Anderson in the medical field. His first assignment was in surgery at the Air Force base in San Antonio.
"I volunteered to go to Vietnam, but they sent me to the Philippines," he said.
Mr. Anderson was assigned to the hospital at Clark Air Base in Luzon, seeing a lot of war-related surgery.
Mr. Anderson recalled seeing reconnaissance jets leaving at dusk. "I thought to myself, 'I'd like to fly one of those.' "
He went to officer training school and then to flight school in Valdosta, Ga.
Then President Nixon said the war was going to be winding down. Mr. Anderson predicted there would be fewer pilots trained and volunteered to end his schooling when his commander asked.
Mr. Anderson said he did it to enter the work force before all the veterans flooded the job market.
But he did so with regrets.
"I still miss the flying. Any time there's aircraft around or an air show, I'm right there," he said.
Finding his way
In 1972, Mr. Anderson was home for a week from his Air Force service. "Dad said, What you going to do to pay for that new car out there?' "
He was planning to go to Atlanta and apply to pharmaceutical companies -- a college advisor suggested it based on his medical background. His job applications didn't produce a job, though.
One of his high school classmates told him he was working for the textile mill in Thomson and that it was hiring. Mr. Anderson called Milliken on a Monday and interviewed for a management job in Greenville, S.C., on Friday.
It marked the beginning of an 11-year career in textile manufacturing.
In January 1973, he met Kathy, who was in the accounting department of the Milliken plant in Greenville, her home town.
A personnel manager suggested that he ask Kathy for a date, even though it was against company policy for employees to date one another.
"We just didn't tell anybody at work," Mrs. Anderson recalled. "When decided to get married, I quit."
They were married July 14, 1973. Mrs. Anderson went to work for a trucking company and then in clothing retail.
Mr. Anderson's career took him to Spartanburg, S.C., and then to a plant in North Carolina for a year while he oversaw a machinery conversion. Then he got a plant manager's job in Toccoa, Ga. Their first child, Bryan, was born two months later.
Mr. Anderson left Milliken in 1983 to become an oil products salesman to manufacturing companies.
"I had been in manufacturing plants, so once you've been in plants you know what goes on," he said.
He was a salesman long enough to get a foothold and then was offered a partnership in a contract services business in LaGrange, Ga. The business offered services to manufacturing plants to have outside people "do what they don't want to," such as janitorial work, hauling garbage, cutting the grass.
The family wanted to buy back the shares of the business, and Mr. Anderson was reluctant to sell. A lawyer convinced him that the fight to keep the minor share of the company would cost him what they were offering to buy him out, so he agreed to sell. He stayed with the company another three years while looking for a new career opportunity.
What he found in 1993 was an Atlanta-based printing franchise.
A place in printing
Mr. Anderson had to find a place to open his printing business.
He was seeking a city with a good ratio of printing companies to small businesses, looking at Savannah, Columbus, Jacksonville, Fla., and Charleston, S.C. Augusta had the best ratio.
"I grew up in Warrenton, so it was an easy transition," he said.
Mrs. Anderson didn't mind because it was closer to her hometown of Greenville.
They took over an existing shop in the Kmart shopping center after a crash course in running the equipment.
"It didn't matter what I did so long as I could deal people. If I can deal with people, 95 percent of the job is licked. The other 5 percent is the technical part of it, and you can hire the people that know how to run the press, you can hire people that know how to sell," Mr. Anderson said.
Being with Franklin's was helpful because they had developed a performance model that gave franchisees a way of tracking their progress.
"You need to know what you anticipate and we were following what Franklin's thought was the track," he said.
After eight years near Kmart, the print shop moved, getting 1,000 square feet more space for less rent.
Sales took off, he said, because of the location near the post office.
"A lot of business people go there, they come out, they see us. When they come up to that stop sign ... guess what they're looking at? Me," Mr. Anderson said.
In 2004, they expanded into the commercial space next to them.
"He runs the print shop like a factory. He carries that over. Everything is a process," said Mr. Asselin, a former salesman. "What I admired is his advocacy for the chamber of commerce. He's got a civic heart."
Mr. Asselin said Mr. Anderson got him plugged into the community through an introduction to the Exchange Club of Columbia County. It was a way to expand the business but also was the "best career move for me." Mr. Asselin is now a past president of the organization.
Mr. Asselin said he was sent to printing sales training in Texas when he joined Mr. Anderson.
"He invests in his employees. For a small business to do that is huge," Mr. Asselin said.
Bulldog at heart
"I like my Georgia football," Mr. Anderson said.
He's been buying tickets for games for 30 years.
Daughter, Elizabeth, attended the university and shares her father's enthusiasm for the games, Mrs. Anderson said.
"I went to Georgia and he didn't, but I don't spend as much time on it as he does," said John Anderson.
The brothers still spend time hunting and fishing together.
"We grew up doing it and both enjoy it," John Anderson said.
They usually go for catfish: "We're a catch and fry."
Mr. Anderson volunteers for organizations including Ducks Unlimited and has won a conservation award from Georgia Waterfowl.
There's no generation of printers following in his footsteps. Bryan works for a restaurant. Elizabeth works for an insurance underwriter.
John Anderson said he doesn't see a retirement soon.
"I'm not sure he will retire. He enjoys what he does," he said.
If it comes, he said his brother will probably spend more time on genealogy.
Mr. Anderson has devoted some time to it already, recounting stories of his mother's side of the family owning land near the Andersonville prison during the Civil War.
He said he's looking into starting a Military Order of Stars & Bars camp in Augusta. It is a group that strives to preserve the history of Confederate officers and civil leaders.
He said he loves cloak and dagger novels and history, becoming an avid reader over the last 10 years.
"I probably did not read anything since college for 20 years. In the last decade, I've read hundreds of books now," he said.
"Sometimes he'll have two books going," his wife added.
Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BORN: Feb. 3, 1946, Augusta
EDUCATION: Bachelor of education, Georgia Southwestern State University
FAMILY: Wife, Kathy; children, Bryan and Elizabeth
HOBBIES: Hunting, fishing, reading