Tifton Dobbs: A story of determination and perseverance

Published 8:34 am Monday, February 20, 2023

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If there’s one thing Tifton Dobbs understands, it’s how to work hard and believe in yourself. After 17 years running his own transportation business, Dobbs has renovated and moved into his new office in Lanett. 

Dobbs, from Lanett, began his journey in what felt like a different world. He grew up with his family on a rural sharecropper’s farm. With no running water and often sharing the same bowl, he learned at a young age how to be grateful for what you have. 

“I was born with no plan,” Dobbs said.

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Unlike those who are born inheriting the privilege of a successful company, there was no grand plan laid out for Dobbs. He said his family didn’t know how to teach him how to make his way in the world. 

In some ways, his upbringing didn’t prepare him to become the successful businessman he is today. He was in his thirties when he finally taught himself how to build his credit. But what he did have was the perseverance and determination that he learned from his mother. 

Dobbs’ mother, Kerry, raised her seven children on her own, working two jobs to make ends meet. His mother often reminded him not to be embarrassed of who he was. 

One day, she was driving him to a country club in LaGrange. He was embarrassed by their old car and asked her to drop him off down the street. He said that she told him, “You gotta not be ashamed of who you are. Someday it might do you some good.”

As an adult, Dobbs rented out that country club for his mother’s 70th birthday and bought her a brand-new car to drive up in.

Now, Dobbs has six buses and contracts 17 drivers for his business. His buses carry passengers all the way to the eastern and southern seaboard. They have traveled to New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas, Missouri and Texas. 

His goal this year is to have a gross of $2 million from DobbsCorps. This year, he is also launching a new forum called BeeYou (Black Entrepreneurship Enterprises), focusing on hearing from successful African American business owners.

“I just want to try and encourage more Blacks to start more businesses … Kids have to find their way because you doing your career is not holding your job for your kids or your grandkids,” he said. 

According to Dobbs, about 70 percent of his business comes from school events, like band, sports and field trips. He also gets requests from organizations like church groups and daycares.

“Now, if I’m sick, the buses still run. The phone still gets answered,” he said.  

Still, Dobbs hasn’t lost his appreciation for his success. Though he doesn’t regret the old barn he grew up in, he is grateful for the ability to help his family and community. He does a lot to help people in the community.

“My family is better off now because I didn’t sit around waiting for excuses,” he said. 

On Halloween and Christmas, Dobbs gives out 400-600 lunches. He also donates a bus to transport kids from Troup County Baptist Church to camp.

Since 1994, when he was a patrol officer, Dobbs has passed by the old greyhound station building and never thought twice about it. Now, he’s renovated the station to house his business. 

“It wasn’t until November 2021 that the Lord laid my eyes on this place and said this where I needed to be. And it stood out then,” he said.

The building was built during segregation. Walking through the corroded structure, Dobbs could make out the separate entrances, lobbies and bathrooms for Black people and White people. With Black History Month underway, Dobbs couldn’t help thinking about Rosa Parks.

“For my family, it is a momentous moment for us to say we own a piece of property that was segregated, where even the Blacks couldn’t even ride in front of the bus,” Dobbs said.

His advice to young people is to work hard to be who you want to be and take advantage of the resources available.

“We can achieve the American dream, and Martin Luther King fought for those rights,” Dobbs said. “And there’s no excuse now for us to not become who we want to be.”