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Business Pulse - Hale sells Middle Tennessee Building Supply
Mid TN Building Supply sells.jpg
Glen Hale, left, and Scottie Keel fist bump to signify the completion of their business deal. Keel has purchased Middle Tennessee Building Supply from Hale, who wants to thank his customers over the years for their loyalty and their friendship.

Glen Hale has decided to explore the wonderment of retirement which means Middle Tennessee Building Supply has a new owner.

Local businessman Scottie Keel has purchased the building supply business from Glen, who said he’s ready to embrace retirement after working there for nearly 45 years.

“He’s the proud new owner and I’m the proud seller,” said Glen. “He’s purchased all the inventory and some forklifts and trucks. Even though my business was still very strong, when the opportunity came about for a deal with Scottie, I decided this was the right time for me to explore the benefits of retirement.”

Middle Tennessee Building Supply has a storied history in McMinnville. It was started by Glen’s brother, Jewell Hale, in 1976. Glen came on board in 1977.

Glen said he started to think about selling the business a couple months ago. He said he was fortunate a deal came together rather quickly with Scottie, who was a longtime customer. 

“What I enjoyed most about this business was being able to provide my customers with quality building products that I could stand behind with confidence,” said Glen.

The business has been all about building relationships, said Glen, who added he’s done business with four generations of the same family.

“It’s really been interesting,” said Glen. “When you work with people on a regular basis, you get to know them. In some families, the kids might not have the traits of their daddy, but they have the traits of their granddaddy. It’s been really neat to see.”

Glen said he’s ready to retire and joked that he hoped he could enjoy a life of leisure. He said he’s worked at Middle Tennessee Building Supply since he was in high school. Fishing and traveling are in his future with the Florida Keys and New York City on his radar.

As for Middle Tennessee Building Supply, I wish Scottie the best in his new endeavor. I remember when he was a teacher and basketball coach at WCMS and decided to leave the education field in favor of the business world. It’s worked out well for him.

Scottie has bought, among other things, the old VFW and now Middle Tennessee Building Supply. His future appears bright.

Jewell Hale

Keeps property

The inventory from Middle Tennessee Building Supply has been sold, but the building and property remain under the ownership of local developer Jewell Hale. 

Jewell told me the story of when he and Ronnie Gunter and Carson Malone first started Middle Tennessee Building Supply in 1976. Jewell said it’s amazing how much the price of lumber has soared over the past year, but building remains brisk.

“The interest rates are so low now that people can afford to pay it,” said Jewell.

Asked about his plans for the property on high-traffic Sparta Highway, Jewell said, “I plan to hold onto it and at some point I’m sure I’ll redevelop it.”

Pizza parlor

Under construction

I noticed on social media where applications are being accepted for Begonias Restaurant, which is locating in a space at the old Fraley’s building on Main Street. So I made a point to make my way to that location on Friday to check out renovation efforts.

As many of you may recall, Southern Traditions recently opened at the old Fraley’s building and seems to be doing brisk business.

Begonias Restaurant will be the next business in line to open there. Two vacant storefronts remain in between and are available to rent. The space can be custom built to suit for those who act now.

Bruce McKeehan is overseeing renovation efforts for property owner Ken Roberts. I must say Ken is doing a top-notch job in rejuvenating the prime piece of downtown real estate after 15 years of dormancy. It’s been said good things come to those who wait and it appears good things are in fact shaping up at the old Fraley’s spot.

Begonias plans to specialize in pizza among other items and Bruce was showing me an 8,000-pound oven that’s been placed in the kitchen. The oven is so large and so heavy, Bruce says the front windows had to be removed to get it inside.

Bruce estimates he’s still about six weeks away from completing the storefront that will be Begonias, give or take a week. For those eager to get on the workforce, applications are inside the door and can be picked up during hours when Bruce and his crew are working.

Doodle Fish

Finds new waters

If you visit Main Streets across America, you will find unique stores at every turn. Here in McMinnville, one of our unique stores on Main Street is Doodle Fish Studio.

It wasn’t one of the biggest moves as far as logistics are concerned, but Doodle Fish has found a new home at 108 W. Main Street, just three doors down from its previous spot. Business owner Stephanie Fish loves her much bigger location, which is complete with a party room.

“Last Saturday was our first time to use the party room and it was really nice to have that space available and be able to keep the rest of the store open too,” said Stephanie.

Doodle Fish allows visitors to come in and paint their own creations, whether it be on canvas or on a piece of pottery. Stephanie said she’s looking to restart her art club on March 10, which is open to students every Wednesday. She’s also planning art camps over the summer with the first week tentatively set for June 14.

Some elementary school students enjoying time at Doodle Fish on Friday were Aiden Kesey, his sister Ella Kesey, and their friend Kenzee Ford. Aiden was painting a chicken, while Ella was decorating a cactus, and Kenzee was painting a whale. The projects gave them a chance to do something creative other than screen time.

To find out more information, Doodle Fish Studio can be reached at 474-8922.

Speaking of

Screen time …

I was talking to local optometrist Terry Connor on Friday and he was telling me about vision problems he’s been seeing in his adolescent patients as a result of too much screen time.

“In my first 20 years of practice, I rarely had to prescribe bifocals to anyone under 18,” said Dr. Connor. “If I had to give a rough estimate, it was maybe once a year. Now it’s up to two a month and it’s simply because of increased screen time. The eye is a muscle just like any muscle you have in your body and our muscles aren’t made to have a screen in front of our face all the time.”

Dr. Connor said he noticed a recent article in which one of his college professors was the main source. The professor was Dr. Glen Steele of Southern College of Optometry in Memphis.

Dr. Steele said eye problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Where kids used to spend eight hours of their free time glaring at their phone or device, now they’re spending that time plus additional hours gazing at a laptop for virtual learning.

“It’s incredible how much things have changed over the past year with COVID,” said Dr. Connor. “Having 20-20 vision is important and that’s what a lot of people hope for, but you also need the ability to focus. I’m seeing much, much more focusing issues especially with kids.”

Dr. Connor said the problem stems from looking at a screen that’s about two feet away from your face. He suggests for people to change their focal range as healthy vision habit.

“Every 20 minutes take 20 seconds and look at something 20 feet away,” said Dr. Connor. “We call it the 20-20-20 rule.”

Dr. Connor said he’s guilty of staring at his phone or a computer screen too and he realizes we’ve become a society where that is not likely going to change. But that behavior could result in vision consequences, he said. 

“I spend a lot of time in my office explaining this to parents,” said Dr. Connor. “I don’t know if there’s any way to eliminate it, but it comes down to screen time and lessening the visual demands up close. Take frequent breaks and do something else. If we’re seeing these type of problems in 5-year-olds, imagine what their vision is going to be like when they’re 50.”

Connor Vision can be reached at 473-7844.

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