Longtime business moves to Ardmore for fast internet
Each workday for more than 23 years, Ardmore native Leah Mullins Pryor made the 40-minute commute to and from south Huntsville, where the family business, Ted Mullins & Associates, had been headquartered since 1993.
But that situation changed in a big way in February 2021 when Leah decided to relocate the appraisal company her late father founded and set up shop as Mullins Appraisals on Ardmore’s Main Street, all thanks to the arrival of ATC’s fast fiber internet. “It’s now seven minutes from my home to the office,” Leah says.
“After driving 40 minutes each way for 23 years, it’s been life-changing,” she says. “We found available office space, and we talked to Ardmore Tele- phone Company and found its high-speed internet was even better than what we had in south Huntsville. That was the No. 1 reason we moved here.”
It’s been a family affair since Ted Mullins launched the company. Leah came on board as his assistant in 1998 after earning her associate degree in business management and accounting from Calhoun Community College. Her husband, David, joined the appraisal team in 2013 after
having spent five years working for Ted’s construction company. And Leah’s sister, Hannah, made the move to the family operation in 2014 after working the previous 10 years for another appraisal company a friend of her dad owned. “My husband would assist Dad with the inspections in the field, and myself and Hannah would work up the reports in the office,” Leah says.
Now, it’s just the three of them since Ted’s death in May 2021. “When he passed away, I modified the name to Mullins Appraisals to carry on our father’s legacy,” Leah says. “He’s the one who built this, and he’s the reason I have my career. I miss him and his influence, and basically, the business is here because of him.”
Early on at the south Huntsville location, Leah remembers a large part of her job involved printing copies of completed appraisals and personally delivering them to clients. “Now, it’s got to where most of our work is done through the internet,” she says. “Everything we do is either sent by email or uploaded to a website. Technology has brought us a long way.”
Ongoing advancements in appraisal, real estate software and ATC’s fiber internet have indeed brought the family business a long way from its beginnings in Huntsville. Typically, Mullins Appraisals must turn around an appraisal within a week, “so, we have to run a tight ship,” Leah says. They do regular business with 15 to 20 institutions — banks, mortgage companies, appraisal management companies. In fact, Leah’s view through a large window at her office is the First National Bank across the street — one of her larger clients.
The company specializes in single-family residential appraisals, but before sitting down at her desk to work up her reports — some 10 to 20 each week — Leah or her husband must first record measurements and photograph each location.
“I’m out in the field two days a week, in the office three days a week,” Leah says. “There are a lot of people who may use an iPad on-site — you can get a program that allows you to do it remotely — but I’m a dinosaur and do it the old-fashioned way with the tape measure and pen and paper. That’s how my daddy taught me, so I’ve kind of stuck with that throughout my career.”
Even so, most of the work happens in the office. With fast internet, documents are quickly uploaded and emailed. An appraisal program is used to pull information on comparable homes, tax records, deeds and sketching. “I absolutely love it,” Hannah says. “I have ATC’s fiber internet at home, also. With all the girls being on their devices, and when the TV is on, we don’t ever have an issue with it. And here at the office, it’s excellent.”
Meanwhile, Leah counts her blessings every day that she is able to continue the family legacy alongside her husband and sister. “Working with Dad, he had a very strong work ethic, and I feel like he passed that down to me,” Leah says.
“When you’re self-employed, you either work really hard or you don’t succeed,” she says. “My husband and I work together very closely. It is good to have people who are dependable that you can trust that work with you. I would definitely say it’s been a good thing. It’s been a blessing, and it’s worked out well for over 23 years now.”
Content provided with permission from Ardmore Telephone Company.