The United States is a representation of freedom – you hear it everywhere. People have died and suffered life-long injuries defending our freedom. ‘Old Glory’ is flown at every school, every state, county, and city building as a reminder of our freedom that so many gave their lives to insure we remained free. With that freedom came opportunities to not only own your own land, but to own and operate your own business or businesses. One American success story who benefitted Jackson and surrounding counties was Joe Anderson, founder of Anderson Columbia. His son, Joey Anderson continues as president of Anderson Columbia today.
Joe Anderson is the epitome of the American Dream. Joe H. Anderson, Jr., was a lifelong resident of Old Town, Florida and founder of Anderson Columbia Company. He was affectionately known by all who knew him. Anderson began working in construction at a very early age and just after his eighteenth birthday, formed what became known as Anderson Contracting Company, and followed later with the addition of Columbia Paving and a name change to Anderson Columbia Company, with its corporate headquarters in Lake City. Today, Anderson Columbia is recognized as a major highway infrastructure construction company in the southern United States. Joe was actively involved in every phase of construction, running equipment, driving everywhere for parts, making repairs, looking at, estimating and bidding on jobs. He was a determined man with a competitive spirit willing to stay the course to see that construction jobs were completed.
Joe never retired from work, but turned over the day to day operations of Anderson Columbia Company to his sons Joe III, Douglas, and daughter Cindy Childers who have continued to build on the successes of their father, expanding operations in a number of states. His passion was to work and he continued to be an integral part of Anderson Columbia’s operations and was a driving force behind the founding of Suwannee American Cement in Branford, Florida, providing additional jobs for area residents.
In the mid-2000’s Joe began to refocus his efforts and developed a real passion for helping with the basic needs of people and their spiritual growth. There were many who were down and out, widows and those needing a hand up that were recipients of Joe and the family’s charitable giving. Joe also began discussing ways to share Christ’s love for people and their salvation. Wanting to reach as many as possible, he began thinking about getting a tent and taking it from city to city to share God’s word. Many said the days of the tent being an effective tool for winning souls was over. After prayerful consideration, he furnished the funds for a tent, chairs, sound system, stage, lights and tractor trailer and within a few months, the first tent revival was held in Old Town, in a field off Chavous Road. That was 2009 and this year, the tent is still going strong with the latest Crusades for Christ Tent Ministry revival be held in Belle Glade, Florida with over 3,000 accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior. Many thousands have been saved under that same tent since it began in 2009 and now, seven years later, it is scheduled for many other cities.
Joe also had a passion for America and the principles on which it was founded. His thinking led to a desire to install solid granite Ten Commandments monuments throughout the land. Many said it couldn’t be done, the ACLU would sue. Determined, Joe, with the approval of the County Commission, installed a six-ton monument on the courthouse steps in Dixie County. The ACLU sued. The people in Dixie County stood firm in their convictions. A trial was held and an appeal was heard in Atlanta. Liberty Counsel helped in the defense. Thousands of county residents and many from around Florida came out in support of the monument one bright Sunday afternoon and today it still stands on the courthouse steps.
In their latest venture, Joe along with his children invested in the old KOA campground along the Suwannee River, developing a Christian Campground called Camp Anderson. The campground offers wholesome Christian activities for youth, churches and special groups of all ages. Many churches have sent young people to the camp and many thousands have found Jesus. Many other children who for various reasons don’t have parents and are being cared for by the State of Florida have been participants in the camp and have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Recently, Camp Anderson was recognized by Governor Scott and given the “Champions of Hope” award from the State of Florida at the National Faith Symposium for their work with “at risk” children.
Anderson Columbia employees 400 plus workers out of the Marianna office. This office reaches as far as Pensacola. Two of those employees, Alan Mathis and Kevin Buchannan had a vision to pay tribute to Mr. Joe Anderson for all he did for the employees of Anderson Columbia and to honor something that he respected and loved, the United States of America. Gene Strickland, manager of Anderson Columbia in Marianna said, “Alan (Mathis) came to me and said he wanted to get the biggest flag he could for Mr. Joe and I told him to run with it and he did. He contacted everyone, including the FAA as far as the height the flag pole could be, and next thing we knew the flag was here and the work began on installing a pole for it to fly. We added the monument at the bottom. It has been a very positive addition to our company. I can’t tell you the number of calls, texts, emails, and Facebook posts we have had about it. It is a beautiful sight as you top the hill there. Mr. Joe (Anderson) was a true picture of an American success story, started with a backhoe and from there the company grew.”
The TIMES appreciates the efforts of Anderson Columbia for their efforts to install the flag which measures 30 by 50 and flies from a 120-foot pole for all to see and admire.