SMITH COLUMN: Arnold Harrison

Published 2:01 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

ROSWELL – At a prosperous automobile dealership, everyone is in motion. Nothing is idling except for a smooth-running engine which has just been finely tuned to make a satisfied customer more satisfied.

The service department is like a doctor’s office—a hi-tech environment with a machine to effect rehab for every ailment or need. In the body shop there is bumping and grinding as every wrinkle or dent is eliminated, making a fender look like it did when it was in mint condition when it left the factory for dealership delivery.

The scene reminds you of a beehive where everybody has a role to play in the success of the operation. No one is relaxing except for the customers in the waiting room. 

Sales folk, men and women, are trained to manage their communication skills along with arming themselves with knowledge of their product and making sure they are familiar with all vehicle details that gives the customer the confidence that they can trust the presentation. 

At the Nalley Toyota dealership in Roswell, the man who is most active in the dealership is the dealer himself, Arnold Harrison, who, if he chose to, could flash two Super Bowl rings from his four-year tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers. (He played a fifth year with the Cleveland Browns.)

An overachiever since his formative years, dating back to grade school, Arnold has always given anything he undertakes his best effort. With the good fortune of signing with the Steelers after lettering four years at Georgia, he doesn’t want to consider what might have been on his resume if he had played on teams with poor personnel.

He played for a highly regarded coach at Pittsburgh, Bill Cower, and enjoyed success at Georgia, where he won an SEC ring under Mark Richt in 2002.

Football taught him to underscore the time-honored basics: teamwork, self-sacrifice, second effort, work ethic and an assortment of other intangibles which enabled him to enjoy success at every level, starting out at Josie High School in Augusta.

In football, he was never the first to dash to the showers. He stayed late on the practice field, spending time on drills that would make him a better and more effective player.

He would ask himself questions growing up: “Are you the type of person who is going to be at work 15 to 20 minutes early or are you the one that’s coming in on three wheels from staying out all night.  I chose good habits, like I never took up drinking. How can one not see that smoking is one of the worst habits there is for a young person?”

Arnold has always appreciated his parents’ influence and steered clear of trouble, vacillating toward kids with good habits. He bonded with the “good guy” leaders. Early on, he appreciated those with moral and ethical standards. With maturity, he saw that integrity made a difference in business.

When he graduated from the University of Georgia, he would like to have played in the National Football League forever but understood that was not likely. This led him to prepare himself for life after football. 

Now that he is entrenched in the automobile industry, what he learned from competing in football serves him well in business. “In greater Atlanta,” he says, “there are 17 Toyota stores so if a person wants a Toyota, he can shop at a lot of places. We have to be able to compete every day if we want to succeed. Fortunately, we have been very successful, and what I learned in football at the University of Georgia and at Pittsburgh are very much a foundation for what we are accomplishing in the car business.”

Dating back to his early high school days, Arnold set goals. One was to be a successful leader. He realized that to be a good leader, he had to be a good teammate. He enjoys people and finds emotional fulfillment in making friends and developing relationships. 

He underscored good study habits which led to a college degree and enabled him to find a niche on Super Bowl championship teams where there was an abundance of talented players which made him realize that the best route for him to make the team was to excel at special team play.

Instead of drinking beer with his buddies, Arnold was reading motivational books and accentuating positives that made him a better student and a better person which has brought him Super Bowl rings and high marks in the tough, competitive business world. Arnold Harrison is a Dawg for all seasons.