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Business Pulse - An invention deer to his heart
Mike Stoner.jpg
Mike Stoner has patented this deer hauler that attaches to the back of side-by-side offroad vehicles to help hunters get their deer from the woods back to civilization.

The cocktail napkin holds a unique place in American history as the medium for so many inventions and business ideas.

McMinnville resident Mike Stoner wasn't necessarily using a cocktail napkin, but he was designing and redesigning his new invention as he went along.

After an estimated five or six years of work, Mike has developed a finished product, the Deer Hauler. He's hoping for nationwide sales from his website which is

"I'm just now getting it on the market," said Mike. "It's geared toward hunters to fill a need that exists. I know I've had trouble getting deer out of the woods and I have a buddy who couldn't get one out a couple months ago. He had to go get a bunch of friends and go back in because he couldn't lift it."

Mike said many hunters are deep in the woods when they shoot a deer and sometimes they have to figure out how to load a 200-pound animal. He said the problem is compounded by today's side-by-side offroad vehicles that mostly have very tall beds about 4 feet off the ground.

One person is not going to lift 200 pounds of dead deer weight unless they are like Hulk Hogan.

"I built the first one in my welding shop and tested it for a season to see what worked and what didn't," said Mike. "I got the bugs out of it while keeping it as quiet as I could. My attorney told me not to tell anybody about it because somebody would steal my idea so I did it all myself. I could have gotten an engineer to help me with the design, but I didn't want anyone to know about it."

Mike has already gotten one patent and has another one pending so he says his idea is safe for now. He says his hauler is designed to fit on the back of any side-by-side and allows the user to lift heavy weight effortlessly.

To prove his point, Mike stood on the deer hauler and told me to lift him off the ground. He's a 200-pound man but I was able to lift him off the ground with one arm.

The deer hauler sells for $549 and that includes shipping. Mike said he had to reconfigure his initial design to reduce his shipping costs from $175 to $45.

"That was probably my biggest challenge," said Mike. "I had a good product but the shipping costs were eating into my profits. So I had to redesign it to fit in a pretty small box while still keeping it stout enough to do the job. It was a real head scratcher."

A Warren County company is now mass producing the product and shipping out orders. Mike said the website has been up for about a month without any publicity and it's generated three sales so far.

To get the word out, Mike is preparing to participate in several upcoming deer hunter trade shows. He says  there's a show in Iowa he will attend the first of March and one in Illinois he will attend the last of March.

For more information, visit The website has a YouTube link where you can watch a video of the product in action.

Business Pulse wishes Mike the best of luck!

Hotel development

is going up

Over the course of the past 18 months, I've probably dedicated more ink to the new Hampton Inn hotel coming to McMinnville than any other subject.

The three-story, 74-room hotel will be located across from Saint Thomas River Park Hospital and include a 20,000-square-foot retail center in the front. The retail center will include restaurants and stores and you may recall hotel developer David Hunt created excitement about six months ago when he revealed one restaurant will be a national Mexican chain.

With all I've written about this new hotel, seemingly over and over, I've been stunned by the number of questions I've received the past week or so now that the steel structure of the retail center is in place.

Everyone is asking about the new construction taking place across from the hospital and next to the Chevy dealer. I've found this odd considering the number of times I've said it's going to be a hotel and retail center.

One of my co-workers had the perfect answer about why people are asking me about the construction.

"It's because no one listens to you," she said.

I guess the truth hurts, but it appears she's right.

To summarize the plight of our new hotel, serious talks have been taking place for close to two years about a hotel at that spot.

It was in October 2018 when hotel developer David Hunt made a trip to McMinnville to meet with the Industrial Development Board and announce his plans formally. Hunt also owns Hampton Inn hotels in Pulaski and Fayetteville and said at that time his rooms in Fayetteville average $115 to $117 a night, and the average is $120 to $122 in Pulaski.

There’s always been a gushing river of excitement surrounding the retail hub in front of the hotel. Hunt has spoken with optimism about the prospects of landing some national chains as tenants.

 “The big national chains want to follow the flag of Hilton,” said Hunt, which he says in the No. 1 hotel brand in the world.

As for employment, Hunt said the Hampton Inn would have 25 to 30 employees, depending on occupancy.

Several months ago I heard the hopeful timeline for hotel completion was this October. I texted Mr. Hunt on Friday afternoon in hopes of finding out if that timeline is still accurate but he had not responded as of press time.

Stefanick joins

Kirby Real Estate

Emily Stefanick has obtained her real estate license and joined the friendly staff at Kirby Real Estate.

She will specialize in land sales and commercial property and has a unique perspective due to her job with Panther Creek Forestry.

"My work in forestry the past five or six years has given me a knowledge of land that a lot of people don't have," said Emily. "We serve a pretty large geographic area and serve regions all over Middle Tennessee. This is something I've been interested in for some time."

Emily says she's familiar with working with property owners who have a tremendous amount of acreage and often travels to Spencer, Murfreesboro, Tullahoma and Manchester.

"I'm super excited to be able to work here in McMinnville with quality people like Bobby Kirby and Lynne Cole," said Emily. "We have some of the most beautiful land and forests anywhere in the state right here at home. I'm sure I'll be able to learn a lot from Lynne and Bobby and I'll probably be able to provide some knowledge that can help them too."

To reach Kirby Real Estate, call 473-3181.

That's all folks

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