May 1 2007 12:00 AM

Back in 1925, E.J. Smith founded one of the country's first golf course distributorships representing The Toro Company. He knew that if he followed four basic principles, he would be successful in his new business. Those elements were: integrity, innovative products, exceptional service and an absolute commitment to the customer's success.

Given that solid foundation, as the baton has been handed from one generation to the next, each has added their own personal imprint. Today, Smith Turf & Irrigation (STI) has grown to 21 locations, serving golf courses, irrigation and landscape contractors as well as universities, municipalities and commercial developments from Virginia through the Carolinas to Tennessee.

E.J. Smith would be proud of his heirs and how the company has grown, but more importantly, he would be proud that the emphasis on the four elements that he established when he started his business 82 years ago has stood the test of time.

By adhering to the same principles that were established by their grandfather, and followed by their father, Wayne, Sr., Wayne and Steve Smith, and fourth generation Anna-Lindsay Yarbrough, they are taking Smith Turf & Irrigation to new highs.

"Throughout their long association with The Toro Company, every generation of the Smith family has earned a reputation for hard work and dedication," said Mike Hoffman, Toro's chairman and CEO. "As a Distributor of Excellence award winner many times over, they represent the very best in customer care and business performance."

Today, Smith Turf & Irrigation is not only a full-line distributor of Toro products, they have evolved into a 'one-stop shop,' offering their customers landscape and lighting products, water features and pond materials.

Wayne and Steve agree when they say, "It's more than just selling products. We certainly want to be the resource for our customers, but we have to do more -- we need to be relevant to our customers' success." As part of this philosophy, educational training is offered under the banner of STI University, not just on the products they sell, but on all aspects of their customer's business practices.

The brothers understand that it takes balance for such a diversified company to grow and prosper. Wayne Smith, who grew up on the turf side of the business, serves as chairman, while Steve Smith, who earned his stripes on the irrigation side, is president and CEO. Anna-Lindsay Yarbrough left a successful career at Transamerica to come to the company in 2000. She is the most recent addition to the family business, and serves as executive vice president.

Today, the investment in human resources is equally as important as financial resources, and Smith Turf & Irrigation is a company known for the outstanding quality of their people in every position. "We ask every one of them to share our company goal for our customers: 100% satisfaction, 100% of the time, no exceptions," says Wayne Smith. Steve Smith added, "Their knowledge, experience, and empathy towards our customers sets them apart."

Hoffman couldn't agree more. "The Smith family's strong values are reflected in the exceptional way they treat their customers and employees. These values align perfectly with Toro's, and we're proud to be part of their rich heritage."

Wayne Smith is married to Cindy and, in addition to Anna, they have another daughter, Leigh-Christi, not involved in the business. Steve is married to Tracy and they have three daughters in college, Jessica, Katie and Courtney. Anna-Lindsay is married to Ben, a lawyer in Charlotte, and they have six-year-old twins. But much of their time is spent actively running and working on this dynamic business.

"We're working hard to maintain our leadership position in our markets," said Wayne Smith. "We will do what is necessary to live up to our four guiding principles: integrity, innovative products, exceptional service and a commitment to our customers' success."