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Business Pulse: 1/20/13

Since the Warren County School System has announced plans to begin teaching Chinese to our students, I think we should fully embrace this program.
There’s a great deal we can learn from the Chinese when it comes to education, such as a new program started in some Chinese school districts that requires teachers to hug each kindergarten student twice a day.
The thinking is the hugs will provide the child emotional support and help them with their development and confidence. However, the program does come with one drawback. For some reason, in order for their child to participate, parents have to pay a $12 monthly “hugging fee.”
I think if we were to start such a program in American schools – and only charge a $6 monthly hugging fee – there will finally be something we can do cheaper than the Chinese.
As for other news, much of the nation has been captivated by the story of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who apparently tried to make everyone think his girlfriend had died of cancer when actually his girlfriend never existed. She was just made up.
Before we rush to judgment, making up an imaginary girlfriend isn’t that much of a stretch. In fact, I’ve encouraged sports editor Jeffery Simmons to do just that for months.
But it does get a little creepy when you make up a girlfriend then decide to kill her off like a soap opera storyline. The only thing left is to discover she’s not really dead, or not really imaginary. Since Te’o could see his NFL career disappear, maybe he could land a spot on “Days of our Lives.”

Kathy’s to close
retail location

For the past 23 years, Kathy Brewer has been offering prom and pageant dresses at her Plaza Shopping Center store called Kathy’s of McMinnville.
Kathy announced Friday her brick and mortar store will be closing and she’ll be transitioning into an online store where customers can click and order. To reduce her inventory, Kathy says she’ll be having a storewide sale with merchandise 30 to 75 percent off. She plans to stay open until the prom.
I’ll provide more information as it becomes available.

Carpenter looks
to nail down business

We have a new business in town called Tennessee Carpentry Services that’s owned by Jim Taylor.
As most of you know, I always like to announce new businesses – especially ones that are hiring. Jim is looking to hire five experienced carpenters to help him with his growing construction and remodeling business.
Jim is a transplant from Florida, the Sunshine State, where he was born and raised. He has built a beautiful home in the Rock Island area and lives there with his charming wife, Betsy Marie.
The craftsmanship on their Rock Island home is impressive as the pictures indicate. Jim has spent decades in the construction industry and has run his own company for 30 years.
Jim got his start thanks to his father, a retired Air Force drill sergeant. His father believed all young boys should have a starter job after school.
At age 11, the choices were somewhat slim – from mowing lawns to a running a paper route. Since no car was needed to mow lawns and the equipment was conveniently in the garage, mowing it became.
Fortunately for Jim, there was a new construction site a few blocks away. The superintendent came across the road where Jim was mowing and asked him if he could pick up the job site trash. The next day, the superintendent asked if he could help unload tools. It didn’t take long before Jim was hammering nails and cutting boards.
Jim ended up working for that superintendent for 11 years before starting his own construction company at age 22.
His first large project was Rosie O Grady’s, which was a tourist staple for years. Then it was work for Disney, then a hotel chain.
Looking for a change of scenery and a slower pace from where Mickey Mouse resides, Jim brings his talent and expertise to Middle Tennessee. Custom work, design, doors and windows are his specialty, but he can do anything that has to do with building. This includes cabinets, repairs from termites or water damage, counters, flooring and much more.
To reach Tennessee Carpentry Services for any repair or remodeling job in your home, call (931) 273-4172. That’s also the number to call if you’re an experienced carpenter looking for work. To view pictures of his custom-made home, see page 6-C.

Jimmie Gribble
starts tool truck

It’s difficult to believe I’ve started my 14th year of writing Business Pulse. You could say I’ve dedicated the best years of my life to this column.
But this segment is not about me. It’s about Jimmie Gribble. And I bring up my years of writing this column because Jimmie has given me a Business Pulse first. This is the first time in covering local business news I’ve written about a tool truck. So imagine, if you will, trumpets blaring as I bring you this report.
There’s now a Cornwell Tools truck in Warren County and it’s operated by Jimmie Gribble. After months of preparation, Jimmie will start running local routes this Monday. He’ll cover Warren County and the Chattanooga area.
“I’ve been on the other side of it and know about the convenience that comes with the truck,” said Jimmie, who operated a paint and body shop for years. “It’s mobile tool sales. I have anything a body shop or a mechanic would need.”
Cornwell Tools has been in business since 1919 and is known for its high-quality items, many of which come with a lifetime warranty. Jimmie’s truck is packed with merchandise from top to bottom and even on the ceiling. A sampling of his inventory includes impact sockets, air hoses, gloves, wrenches and flashlights. He also has other items available that can’t fit on the truck, such as car lifts and compressors.
You can’t buy Cornwell products through a store. You have to find a local dealer like Jimmie to make a purchase. Jimmie says financing is available for some of the big-ticket items.
Jimmie got the idea from his son-in-law, who is a Cornwell Tool distributor in the Sparta, Cookeville and Crossville area. After 22 years at Bridgestone, Jimmie decided he wanted to take early retirement and try another line of work.
“This is a new adventure for me,” said Jimmie. “I will be visiting local shops every Monday and going to Chattanooga on other days. Anybody can buy from the truck. You don’t have to own a shop. I’ve already had a few people come by and start making out their wish lists.”
If you’d like to call Jimmie to tour the tool truck, or have him visit your place of business, his phone number is 212-5920.

Flowers on Main
has new owners

It was two-and-a-half years ago when Leah Edwards started Flowers on Main across from Security Federal on W. Main Street.
Since that time, the business has grown and moved to Court Square. Now it has new owners in Tammy Hughes and Pam Hodges.
“We became interested in the business and everything just kind of fell into place,” said Tammy. “I knew this was something I wanted to do from the moment I made my first delivery and saw the smile on the lady’s face. I could tell she was touched and that did it for me.”
Tammy and Pam have been learning the ropes from Leah and want to keep many things the same for her regular customers. This includes the same phone number, the same website and the same business accounts.
But they also have some new ideas to give the store its own unique charm. One of those is selling merchandise made by area crafters and using some of those items in their gift baskets.
“It makes a big difference in people’s lives when you do something for them,” said Pam. “You can make someone’s day or give them comfort. We want to give something out of the ordinary with their input. Sometimes, like at a funeral, there’s just nothing you can say, but you want to show you care.”
The fresh flower arrangements for weddings, receptions and special occasions will remain a staple. Pam and Leah realize they are about to get slammed with Valentine’s Day fast approaching.
“Busy is good,” said Tammy.
Leah has been careful to make sure the two understand the business and she’s been just a phone call away anytime they’ve had a question.
“She didn’t walk off and leave us when she sold us the shop,” said Pam. “She’s been great to help us.”
Pam and Tammy plan to be an active part of the community, especially with Relay for Life and promoting autism awareness. They say they have been personally touched by cancer and autism and want to make a positive impact in those programs.
To contact Flowers on Main, the phone number is 507-ROSE. The business is located across from High Funeral Home at 119 West Court Square.

Job fair nets

Last week I told you about a job fair Don Yancy was holding at his business in Morrison called PC Disposal. As a short follow up to that story, Don says the job fair went extremely well and he received nearly 100 applicants.
“When I opened the door at 9 a.m., about 30 people walked in,” said Don. “I was joking around with them and asked if they all took the same bus.”
Don says he expects to start calling people back for interviews this week. He says the recycling business is strong right now and he needs the help.
In addition to PC Disposal, Don has a business partner who is looking to open a data center in Morrison, which will create more jobs. Don expected the data center to be up and running by now, but says he’s having real trouble getting the phone company to run fiber optic lines to his building. Don says when he does get fiber optic capabilities there will be a few high-paying jobs available.

is decreasing

The latest unemployment figures released Thursday by the state show the Tennessee jobless rate remains unchanged from November to December at 7.6 percent.
However, the overall picture shows Tennessee unemployment has dropped considerably over the past year, falling from 8.5 percent to 7.6 percent.
According to the state, the number of unemployed persons (235,700) is the lowest in Tennessee since October 2008. The state also says the number of employed persons (2.87 million) is the highest since March 2008.
It’s taken five years, but the unemployment picture finally seems to be much improved. I firmly believe anybody who wants a job has a job. However, one problem is the wages for many of those jobs remain low.

That’s all folks

My call for business tips actually worked last week. However, I must come clean on one thing.
Like Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and his make believe girlfriend, I made up the whole story about offering $50 for business tips. That program only existed in my mind.
But you can still phone in your business tips by calling 473-2191 or by emailing me at

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