Maya Angelou once said, “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” It is exactly that type of light that Vivian Summers exudes when she walks into a room. Behind a veil of humility stands an inspirational Black woman who is making her mark on Statesboro, one act of service at a time.
Together with her husband, Michael, Vivian owns and operates a logistics company called Summertime Enterprises. The powerhouse duo manages a fleet of more than a dozen semi trucks employed in the line haul of FedEx packages.
“We always say it’s a blessing to own this business,” Vivian says. “To be able to provide jobs for people to take care of their families — it’s just a blessing.”
Before delving into the world of logistics, the Summers met while attending South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. In 1988, she graduated with a degree in marketing and began working as a buyer for Belk in Augusta. The couple married in 1993 and moved to Statesboro two years later, where Vivian began working for Briggs & Stratton and eventually Great Dane Trailers.
It was Michael’s business acumen and work experience that made their entrepreneurial venture a no-brainer. In 2008, they initially started Summertime Enterprises with a pickup and delivery contract through FedEx before transitioning to the line haul sector several years later.
“It’s a tough job, but Michael makes it look easy,” Vivian jokes.
Having previously worked for Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Gulfstream Aerospace, and with a business degree to boot, Michael provided the necessary insight into line haul logistics that ultimately led to the formation of Summertime Enterprises. He formerly served as chairman of Ogeechee Technical College’s logistics management advisory board and is currently a member of the institution’s Board of Directors.
While many small businesses struggled to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summers were busier than ever before.
“We never slowed down,” Vivian said. “Everyone was at home ordering items online and depending on the logistics industry for their everyday needs.”
Because of this dynamic, all 20 of the couple’s employees retained their jobs amidst a worldwide shutdown and the company continued to thrive.
“Thankfully, we didn’t have to lay anybody off,” Vivian says. “Everyone was able to carry on as normal, pay their bills, and take care of their families. We’re so thankful that we can have a sustainable business that allows people a reliable means to provide for themselves and their loved ones.”
Despite facing challenges caused by inflation, supply shortages, and a nationwide labor crisis, Vivian says she and her husband take pride in knowing that they are able to provide a sufficient living wage for their employees. While most of the country dealt with a massive number of resignations, Summertime Enterprises experienced virtually no turnover. Vivian credits the fact that she and Michael truly care about their employees.
“We pray over them daily,” she says.
When she’s not busy running the business, Vivian wears many different hats. She is a yoga instructor, a gospel singer, a line dancer, and a community volunteer. Through each of these activities, Vivian is making her mark on the community by exemplifying a life committed to service.
With the daily stress that comes from being a successful business owner, Vivian finds tranquility in her work as a yoga instructor.
“People often say they can’t sit still or they can’t stop thinking,” she says. “It’s not about that. It’s about turning inward and becoming aware of what you’re thinking about. Oftentimes, there’s a message there.”
Vivian stresses the importance of setting aside time for self-care, advising her students to set healthy boundaries.
“‘No’ is a complete sentence,” she reminds them. “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”
Gospel music is another one of Vivian’s great passions.
“My mom and dad raised me and my siblings in church,” she recalled. It’s only natural that she would join the likes of talented local performers Robin Holmes-Lanier and Gazzie White and lend her voice to their artistry. Vivian enjoys performing at churches and venues across the region, sharing her faith through song.
In fact, Vivian was the first artist selected to showcase her talent in the Averitt Center for the Arts’ ONE series in 2018. The inaugural event featured live musical performances preceded by an interview with retired lawyer and community volunteer Ressie Fuller.
“I remember Ressie asking me, ‘What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?’ ” she recalled. Without hesitation Vivian responded, “It’s not that serious. Slow down. Everything’s going to be fine.”
Vivian also starred in Mical Whitaker’s local production of “Black Nativity,” a dramatic retelling of the nativity story written by Langston Hughes. The musical features elements from African-American culture along with traditional carols sung in gospel style.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” she recalled with a smile.
As part of the group “Triple S,” which stands for Statesboro Spicy Sliders, Vivian dons her dancing shoes and entertains crowds throughout Bulloch and neighboring counties. She also serves on several community boards, including the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, and is an active member of the Bulloch County NAACP.
“Service brings me joy,” Vivian says. “That’s what we’re all here to do — serve each other.”
Being a flourishing businesswoman and pillar of the community, Vivian quite naturally assumes the role of mentor for aspiring entrepreneurs.
“A lot of times people ask, ‘How do I find my purpose?’ ” she says. “I encourage them to think of something they would be willing to do for free for the rest of their lives. Then I help them figure out how to monetize that one thing. Everyone has a talent. You may not know what it is, but you can figure it out. I’m a firm believer that everybody can do something.”
While so much of her life is defined by her business and social endeavors, Vivian prioritizes her roles as wife and mother above all else. She and Michael have been married for nearly three decades, and the couple has two children. Their daughter, Jasmyne, is a 2014 graduate of South Carolina State University, her parents’ alma mater. Their son, Michael Jr., graduated from Georgia Tech in 2016.
Maya Angelou also said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” It’s safe to say that Vivian checks all of those boxes. In a world often plagued by negativity, she is a radiant beam by which others are guided to a life of simplicity, service, and gratitude. She is actively making her mark on Statesboro by creating a legacy of humility and selflessness — a legacy that will shine on long after her dancing shoes are shelved, her yoga mat retired, and her final curtain call complete.
“What greater accomplishment is there than a life of service?” she mused. “That’s what it’s all about.”