Writing Business Pulse is an interesting part of my job. Sometimes it requires some snooping around and bugging people with phone calls and texts. And then sometimes giant news comes right to me.
That was the case recently when Caney Fork Electric Cooperative General Manager Ben Newman called and asked if I'd like a tidbit for Business Pulse. It was quite the tidbit. Caney Fork Electric is getting a new building.
That's right, for the first time since it moved from its downtown offices to its current home on Smithville Highway in 1963, CFEC will be getting a new building. What won't be changing is its location.
As Ben explained to me, "Over the last 60 years, the building has undergone numerous changes to accommodate the needs of the membership and employees. The time has finally come to completely upgrade the current location to better serve the future growth of the cooperative. The significant increase in membership, safety concerns, increasing maintenance costs, advances in technology and energy efficiency are some of the determining factors for deciding to move forward with a new building."
During its relocation in 1963, CFEC had a membership of 10,369 in its four-county service area. Since then, the cooperative's membership has grown over three-fold to 34,604 residential, commercial and industrial members in its service area which covers portions of nine counties. The McMinnville office functions as the corporate headquarters for all of CFEC so an up-to-date building is of utmost importance to the entire cooperative.
Changes will begin happening at CFEC quickly. Ben told me the McMinnville office will close May 19 and will temporarily move its operations to the former Century and McMinnville Police Department building at 204 Red Rd. The plans are to be completely up and running in the short-term location by May 22.
The design process has been ongoing at CFEC for the last two years and construction is scheduled to start in July with the hopes of completing the project by the end of 2024.
"We have to do a few things with the current building like removing old gas and oil tanks from the ground and doing some environmental work. Then we're demolishing the building and rebuilding on the same property. We're leaving the warehouse and adding on some bays to enclose the trucks. We're adding a covered storage area to the Northeast part of our property. We're also doing a little bit of work inside the warehouse," Ben said.
While this move may pose some challenges for the company in the short-term, the added efficiency, safety and new technologies will serve both staff and customers better in the future. The current building's deterioration created major obstacles and a remodeling could have proven more expensive than a from-the-ground rebuild.
"The building's not really been touched since it was built in 1963 by my grandfather. Wiring is old, lighting is old, plumbing and HVAC are old and worn out. The water and waste lines have deteriorated over time. With these lines being located either within walls or concrete, it presents an expensive issue each time a repair is needed. The current electrical system is also in question. Repairing or replacing wiring is very difficult as the ceiling in most areas is too small or blocked off to run new cables. The current backup generator was originally installed to only cover a few lights and plugs and not all of the electronic equipment within the building. Battery backup and a smaller portable generator are currently used to keep some of our technological support operating during a power outage, but this is not sufficient should our service territory experience a major natural disaster requiring long-term restoration," Ben said.
While CFEC strives to help customers make their homes and businesses more energy efficient, the cooperative's own home had fallen woefully behind, necessitating this rebuild.
Ben added, "A newly constructed building will not only remedy the current hurdles the existing building faces but will also save operational costs and electricity moving into the future. A new facility will allow CFEC to update all operational systems and will help us live up to our mission statement of providing affordable, safe, and reliable electricity for our members for the next 60 years and beyond."
Ben thanks CFEC customers for their patience during this time as the company strives to provide them and the staff with a brighter future. "We hope that you will pardon our progress as we continue to move into the future with our new home office that will last for decades to come," Newman said.
Renewed Creations, located at 213 E. Main St., is under new ownership. Sisters Holly Cherry and Scytha Jean Loader have bought the business and are looking to put their own stamp on the popular downtown store.
The sisters' involvement with the store began when Holly became a vendor at Renewed Creations in November, selling her Hometown Designs shirts. The store offers clothing, home decor, antiques, accessories and more.
"After being here as a vendor, the opportunity to buy it came up in January and, on March 13, we bought the store. I really liked that there is a nice mixture of antique and boutique items here. There's really something for everyone here," Holly said.
The two sisters are looking to expand that variety even further by adding new product lines. "We now have Dixie Belle paints. It's a chalk paint that we have added since we've taken over. We've also added new vendors. We have two children's boutiques, Dainty Dani's, a plant vendor and a new antique vendor. We're also looking into offering classes in painting, woodworking and plants," Holly said.
The sisters are Warren County natives and look to continue offering a healthy mix of antique and boutique items while constantly being on the lookout for new things to add to keep the store fresh and to keep customers coming back to see what's new.
Another change the pair has bought to the business is expanded hours. The store had previously been closed on Mondays but Renewed Creations is now open Monday - Saturday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and can be found on Facebook and (931) 743-0927.
Until next time,
same biz time,
same biz page
It's been a good few weeks of business news and I've already got some interesting stuff lined up for next week.
Keep those tips coming and thanks once again to Ben Lomand Connect for sponsoring the column.