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Worker of wooden wonders

At 77, Charlie Pearson says he’s the oldest cabinet maker in Warren County. He’s been in business nearly 40 years, having sold his first woodworking piece, a dining room table, around 1974.
“I still do this because I like it more than anything else,” said Pearson. “I like it more than playing golf. I enjoy getting in here everyday, although I mainly just work in the mornings nowadays. The older you get, the harder it is to work. My problem is my mind is still as active as it was when I was younger. I want to do all these things, but my body won’t let me.”
Pearson has done a little of everything since moving to Warren County to open the old Cooper-Martin grocery at Plaza Shopping Center in 1966. Originally from Sumner County, he had been working at the Cooper-Martin in Gallatin when he volunteered to manage the new store opening in McMinnville.
The Plaza was one of the first retail districts to open outside of downtown McMinnville and locating a grocery store there was seen as somewhat risky back in the mid-’60s.
“Mr. Cooper didn’t really like the location because he said it was too far out of town,” said Pearson. “He said it would be a least a year before we would turn a profit, but we were making money after only six months.”
Pearson managed the Cooper-Martin store until it closed in 1984. He still has an old newspaper ad from 1973 that shows Campbell’s soup for 8 cents a can, and three dozen eggs for $1.
“The way the prices are in grocery stores now, it seems like it would be easy to make money,” said Pearson.
He preached for 18 years at Arlington Church of Christ where he is still a member. He also wrote a religious-based newspaper column in the Southern Standard and also had a radio show. He’s been married to his wife, Edith, for 59 years. They have two children, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
“When I look back at it now, I don’t know how I ever found the time,” said Pearson. “I was working over 60 hours a week at Cooper-Martin, preaching two sermons a week, and teaching two Bible classes a week. I also did my wood working on the side.”
While his preaching and work at Cooper-Martin are in the past, Pearson still thrives in his spacious woodshop just off Nashville Highway. The 10,000-square-foot facility is a far cry from his first shop, which had a dirt floor.
Pearson makes all his own molding and can do just about anything when it comes to wood. He is currently working on an upscale fireplace mantle among his many projects. He is skilled at making furniture but says cabinets provide most of his work.
“I’ve learned from a lot of people over a lot of years,” said Pearson, who added work in the region has slowed down in recent years. “I remember when I turned down as much work as I took. That was probably from 1995 to 2005 when there was new construction everywhere. It wasn’t just me. Anybody who did good work had more than they could do.”
Pearson says he built the cabinets in around 50 percent of the homes at Remington Point. He has cabinets in homes all across Warren County including Golf Villa, Hickory Hills and Brook Hollow.
Up to this point, Pearson has only offered custom-made cabinets, but he is now partnering with a company to provide five lines of attractive factory-made cabinets. The cabinets arrive in sections already built and Pearson will install them.
“I think that gives me a big advantage,” said Pearson, “because I can sell you a factory cabinet or a custom-made cabinet.”
There are tricks to the trade Pearson has learned from experience. He says he can also see what needs to be done to an area to make it attractive and functional.
“Most people can take a saw and cut a piece of wood to the right length,” he said. “You have to be able to look at space and visualize what it will take to fill that space and make it look right. The most important things are the sanding and the finish. Those are the hardest parts. The coarseness of your sandpaper will determine the exact color of your stain. It’s the same stain, but it’s a matter of how much gets absorbed by the wood.”
To find out more about Pearson’s cabinets, visit www.kpcabinets.com. He can be reached a 939-2385, or by email at info@kpcabinets.com.


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