Byrd remains consistent in full-service style
by Courtney Warren
Nov 20, 2013 | 2490 views | 0 0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeff and Sam Byrd at Byrd Service Station, where few things have changed since 1960.
Jeff and Sam Byrd at Byrd Service Station, where few things have changed since 1960.
slideshow
In a world where serving others can sometimes be hard to find, and rushing through the day is the norm, Cleveland is home to a business that is known for a friendly, hard-working approach.

"Take care, darlin," is how Sam Byrd sends off many of his customers as they leave Byrd Service Station.

Byrd Service station began in 1960 after Sam saw potential in a closed station on U.S. Highway 61.

At that time, the area of Cleveland was considered out in the country.

"I was in the insurance business and I passed by here one day and the station was closed. It was a relatively new station because it was built in 1954. It was good lookin' and was considered small but everything else was small back in those days.

“I thought that might be a good place to hold up a service station and maybe make some extra money," Sam said.

Sam contacted the owners and rented the station with his brother who helped him get the station up and running.

Byrd Service Station now remains Cleveland's only full-service station. At the time of its birth there were 22 full-service stations and then as times changed, all other stations became self-serve.

"At that time there wasn't such a thing as self-service in 1960 but then people were going to self-service. It was hard to make it in a full-service station but we remained the same, fought it out and have never made any changes. We're doing the same thing today that we did in 1960," said Sam.

As a full-service station customers can pull up to the pumps and have their cars filled with gas without ever having to leave their vehicle. The station staff will also check the vehicle's fluids, tires and wash windshields.

While Byrd Service Station has customers of all shapes and sizes, there are also loyal customers of over 50 years.

"We have lots of elderly women that don't know how to pump gas. My wife has never pumped gas," Sam said.

"We do have a lot of customers that have been with us for several years — customers up to 50 years," Jeff Byrd, Sam’s son, added.

Sam was also in the insurance business and stayed there for 50 years. Once his son Jeff graduated from Delta State University in 1997 and began to work full-time at the service station.

Jeff was no stranger to working at the service station and remembers spending his summers there once he turned 10.

"I didn't quite understand because all of my friends were off playing ball. Dad let me do that but he made sure I was up here at least half the week.

"I look back on it now and I appreciate it a whole lot. It gives you a work ethic and seeing Dad work as hard as he's worked, it makes me feel like the hours I've put in are pretty slim.

“There have been several times where people have told me 'you're daddy's the hardest working man in Cleveland, Mississippi,' and I don’t think there are two many people who would argue that point," said Jeff.

"If there ever was an honest person in Cleveland, Mississippi, he's one of the most honest boys you've ever seen. People appreciate that," said Sam.

Not only will customers be greeted with full-service from honest and hard-working men but also Sam will be dressed in his best to give that service.

Every single day, Sam wears a full suit, tie and pocket square to work.

"I always had a desire to have nice clothes one day. There were 15 of us in the family and we had a hard time buying clothes because we had to spend what money we had on food. One day, in the ninth grade I was president of the class and my sister bought me a sport coat, a pair of pants, and shoes so I could look decent for graduation," Sam said.

After serving in the military and being required to keep up his neat appearance, Sam continued with his style of dress.

As time marches on, the Byrd's plan to keep the business in the family and stay a full-service business.

"You have to have a quality product and you've got to give good service," Sam said.