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Barlay named Small Business Person of the Year

Thua Barlay, immediate past chairman of the board of governors of the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce, was honored Thursday night with the annual Jerry Barboe Small Business Person of the Year Award. Barlay thanked his wife, Andrea, for her unwavering support throughout his career as an attorney. (Staff photo: Alice Queen)

Thua Barlay, immediate past chairman of the board of governors of the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce, was honored Thursday night with the annual Jerry Barboe Small Business Person of the Year Award. Barlay thanked his wife, Andrea, for her unwavering support throughout his career as an attorney. (Staff photo: Alice Queen)

CONYERS — At a time when the housing market continues to slowly recover, Conyers real estate attorney Thua G. Barlay perseveres. His business, Barlay Law Group LLC, specializes in real estate and estate planning and as the business grows, so does Barlay’s civic involvement.

His business savvy combined with his commitment to improving the community recently garnered him the 2014 Jerry Barboe Small Business Person of the Year Award.

The annual award is given by the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce to a business owner who exemplifies business integrity and dedication to the community.

“Neither bombastic nor intrusive, this man goes about softly, pursuing his objectives in a manner which exudes self-confidence, inner strength and capability,” according to a press release issued by the Chamber of Commerce.

Through his law business, established in 2007, Barlay prepares wills and trusts as part of his estate planning responsibilities, and deals in both commercial and business real estate transactions. He has 10 years of real estate closing experience and specializes in short sales.

Before founding Barlay Law Group, he worked as an associate and partner with the Webster Firm, and he previously worked at King & Spalding as a special assignment attorney.

An attorney since 2003, Barlay holds a juris doctorate from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a master’s in business administration in finance from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Barlay is a graduate of both Leadership Rockdale and Leadership Georgia and has served on the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce board, both as general counsel/secretary and chairman.

Other civic involvement includes assisting the local food bank through Estates for Plates, which allows nonprofits and civic groups to use his conference facilities free but with donations of canned goods.

Barlay also volunteered with United Way and is an active Rotarian.

During the ceremony Thursday evening, Barlay said he was somewhat reluctant to accept the nomination due to his role as chairman of the board for the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce.

“I was very hesitant when I was nominated for this award because I served this chamber this past year (as chairman) and I did not want it to seem that this was a result of (that)…,” he said at the ceremony.

Barlay said later that he was “humbled” by the award and that he believes that his community involvement played a significant role in the decision-making process.

Thua said he appreciated his co-nominees — Dotti Bala, owner of Copy Central, a printing company that makes products including business cards, banners, posters, oversized color prints, digital printing and wedding invitations; and Scott Hartsell, owner of imijit.net Technology Solutions, an information technology company.

“I wanted to thank the other nominees here for the work that you do in the community. It is very much needed and it is very much thought of, and I appreciate being mentioned with you,” said Barlay at the ceremony.

Barlay credited his wife, Andrea Miles-Barlay, a physician, with encouraging him to pursue his business even in the beginning when it wasn’t profitable.

“There were many years after that that I could not bring a salary home for my family, and my wife for the most part said, ‘It’s OK, keep trying, keep doing it,’” said Barlay, at the ceremony.

Barlay lives in McDonough with his wife and two children, Emmanuel, 11 and Ethan, 6.

Citizen Editor Alice Queen contributed to this article.