It’s not often a homegrown business endures for 53 years in McMinnville.
That was the longevity of Barrett’s Office Machine, later changed to Barrett Technology Solutions. The business got its start in 1966 with a young and ambitious Leo Barrett at the helm.
Its run ended on Jan. 28 when it was purchased by Murfreesboro residents John and Heather Garland. They have big plans for the business, which is now operating under the name of Pioneer Business Systems. General manager Cody Vaughn remains on staff.
“We could have easily sold to one of the big-box stores, but we wanted this to be a win for everyone,” said Deanna Barrett, daughter-in-law of Leo. “When Leo started the business in 1966, it was all about relationships. That’s the way it was then and that’s the way it’s always been for us.”
Just like Leo taught his son Drew the ropes of the business, John learned from his father at MTR, a company celebrating its 40th year this year.
“I’ve always been involved in the family business ever since I was in high school,” said John. “We already have a lot of good customers in this area so this was a good fit for us. We know the value of relationships and doing what you say you’re going to do. When you say you’re going to be there Tuesday at 3 p.m., you better be there Tuesday at 3 p.m.”
Pioneer Business Systems will continue to offer hardware like copiers, printers and scanners, but the business has transformed into IT managed services. This can include installing and maintaining a computer network.
“Customers may be calling three different places for everything they need and we want them to know we can do it all with one call,” said John.
Deanna said the Garlands will be able to offer larger, faster machines and she said their partnership with HP and Kyocera will enable Pioneer Business Systems to provide more services than ever before.
John says the same Barrett’s service staff will remain in place, but he also plans to be a visible owner and be available in McMinnville several times a week. He has sons waiting in the wing too in Jake, Luke and Noah.
The phone number remains unchanged at 474-FAST. Cody encourages current and potentially new customers to call to learn about new areas of expertise now offered that weren’t available in the past.
Wray lets laser
Do the talking
I always enjoy highlighting unique businesses in our community and that description certainly applies to Laser Lingo, operated by Zach Wray.
Zach lets his laser speak volumes as he can do engravings on a variety of mediums such as wood, granite, metal, leather and plastic. The majority of his work is done on wood.
When asked what designs he can achieve, Zach replied, “anything.”
He added, “If I can design it on my computer, I can do it. All my work is from scratch.”
Zach says he buys his wood locally from Wilcher’s Sawmill and lets it age outside for about two months. Then he uses a kiln to dry it so there is no moisture.
He then cuts and sands the wood before letting it age more. Only then is it time to engrave it.
If you don’t want a one-of-a-kind design, Zach has several pre-made items. He says his Tennessee state signs are widely popular. When it comes to his wooden drink coasters, he can sell 400 at one craft show.
Zach has regular showroom hours in the Midway community at 7501 Francis Ferry Road. Those hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. He also tries to sell his wares at one craft show a month and has been at regional favorites like the Autumn Street Fair and Smithville Jamboree.
“Laser engravers are pretty rare,” said Zach, who got the idea when he worked at a flower shop in Pulaski.
When it comes to granite, his work usually finds its way on burial stones. He can engrave a picture of the deceased person on a granite tile, along with their favorite saying or poem.
Zach estimates it's a 50-50 mix between his retail and wholesale business. Because cellphone reception is not great at his showroom, Zach says the best way to reach him is by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IDB in search
of new member
For years, the Industrial Development Board traveled at a steady 55 mph down the highway, avoiding sudden lane changes or unexpected stops.
That hasn’t been the case in recent years as there has been steady turnover on the 10-member board. That turnover will continue as it was announced at Thursday’s monthly meeting that Gary Judkins has resigned.
“Gary really brought a lot to this board,” said IDB director Don Alexander in expressing his appreciation for his service.
Gary said he didn’t want to cut his six-year term short, but now is the time to step away. He said he’s pleased to leave on good terms.
“I think they’re going in the right direction and I hope I’ve contributed to that,” said Gary. “For me, it was fun to be on there and serve.”
From my perspective, Gary worked hard to fulfill his IDB duties and understood the finances of what was involved, which can be tricky business. He leaves after 4.5 years.
As a county appointee, it will be the job of County Executive Jimmy Haley to nominate his replacement. That nomination then has to gain approval from the full Warren County Commission. This is not much more than a formality as I’ve never known the County Commission to object to a nominated candidate in the past.
When contacted Friday, Mr. Haley said he had just been made aware of the IDB vacancy and would begin considering candidates.
That’s all folks
Be sure to tune in next week when more business news awaits. To make me aware of your business news, call 473-2191.