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Business Pulse - Kubota still growing with new owner
Tennessee Valley Tractor.jpg
Chris Ridge, right, is the new owner of Tennessee Valley Tractor, taking over for David Woodlee, center, who remains a vital part of the staff. Also pictured is employee Kaci Woodlee. The business can be reached at 474-1201.

There are times I’m pleased to be on the cutting edge of business news, bringing you the latest happenings before they become common knowledge.

Other times it appears I slipped into a coma.

This could fall under the category of delayed reaction, but Business Pulse is pleased to roll out the red carpet and welcome Chris Ridge, the new owner of Tennessee Valley Tractor, to the community.

Chris has owned our local Kubota dealership at 532 Harrison Ferry Road for several months, having purchased the business from David Woodlee. David deserves a truckload of credit for taking what was a nondescript business and transforming it into a full-service dealership that’s committed to customer satisfaction.

That same level of excellence has continued with Chris running the show.

“We realize these farmers and nurserymen don’t have extra equipment lying around,” said Chris. “So when something goes wrong, they need service right away. That can mean we go out to their farm and do repairs in the field. Or it could mean we loan them a piece of equipment because when it’s time to dig, it’s time to dig. We provide a good product and service that’s second to none.”

Chris had been an electrical contractor for 30 years and it was through his normal business that he purchased equipment from Tennessee Valley Tractor. He said he developed a great relationship with David that eventually led to him joining the staff late last year with the goal of assuming ownership if all went well.

“We’re in the type of business where our success depends on the success of our customers,” said Chris. “And right now business seems to be going well for our customers.”

It has been a prosperous run for local nursery owners. When that happens, they tend to buy new farm equipment. On the flip side, when the nursery business begins to slow, big-ticket purchases like new tractors tend to be put on hold.

One thing I’ve noticed as a casual observer is how Kubota has developed a solid reputation over the past decade or so. It wasn’t too long ago when John Deere was the one and only measuring stick when it came to farm equipment, but that narrative has changed in recent years.

“We’re capturing a greater piece of the market share and growing every year,” said Chris. 

There hasn’t been an official ribbon cutting or grand opening celebration since Chris has taken over the dealership, but he says word is gradually beginning to circulate. “People are finding out slowly but surely,” he said.

One thing that has produced a smooth transition is that David and his staff remain on board with their knowledge and expertise.

Tennessee Valley Tractor offers a full line of equipment and parts. The dealership serves Warren County and all surrounding counties. The phone number is 474-1201.

In case of airlift,

Protect yourself

As someone who has covered his share of car crashes and accidents for the newspaper, I have been an unfortunate witness to the fact people often get airlifted for emergency medical care.

I’ve also heard stories of absolute horror about how such airlifts can lead to more pain at the mailbox when the bill arrives and the cost is $30,000 or more.

That’s where Kristan Ware comes in handy. As a membership sales manager for AirMedCare, Kristan has memberships available that can protect your family in the unfortunate event an airlift is necessary.

“No one wakes up in the morning and thinks I’m going to get airlifted today,” said Kristan. “It’s just something unexpected that happens. We want to provide peace of mind so that one flight doesn’t put you in financial ruin. One flight can cost tens of thousands of dollars and may not be covered in full by your insurance plan.”

Kristan points out you don’t have to be in poor health to suddenly find yourself in a dire medical emergency. A hiker in his 20s at Rock Island State Park recently fell off a bluff and had to be airlifted from the Midway area with multiple injuries.

“You know when he went out on that hike he never imagined it would end that way,” said Kristan.

She told the story of a girl in middle school who had to be airlifted after a four-wheeler crash. The list goes on. It’s because of this, Kristan says the time to become a member of the AirMedCare network is before an accident or medical emergency, not after.

“Helicopters are just as integral a part of the healthcare community as ground ambulances,” said Kristan. “This is especially true in rural areas where more hospitals are closing.”

Kristan can explain the membership plans much better than I do, but there are one-year, three-year, five-year, and 10-year membership options available. The memberships are around $85 per year with zero out-of-pocket expense after the initial membership fee. 

Members of your entire household are covered. Even if you have a college-aged student who spends a bulk of time in another city, he or she is still covered with your membership provided they are a full-time student and under age 26.

To find out more information, there is an insert in today’s edition of the Standard. Kristan will also be set up outside Walmart this coming Saturday, June 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting. Or you can call her directly at (931) 304-3150.

Minimum wage 

Not living wage

With immigration issues, border walls, and healthcare commanding much of the national attention on the political landscape, America’s paltry minimum wage of $7.25 an hour often gets little airplay.

I stumbled across a story last week that instantly grabbed my attention.

If you earn minimum wage and work a full-time job at 40 hours per week, you can afford a two-bedroom apartment nowhere in the United States. That’s right, nowhere. Not in Warren County, not in Albuquerque, not in Cleveland, not anywhere in America.

The study was conducted for the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s report on housing affordability in the U.S. The study painfully shows the affordable housing crisis is soaring to new heights as pay for low-wage jobs remains stagnant, while the income for the upper class is rising.

The study points out that those who earn minimum wage are not even close to being able to afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere.

On the low end of the scale, it would take a wage of $14.92 an hour, based on a 40-hour week, to pay for a two-bedroom apartment in Alabama on average. On the high end, a full-time worker in California needs to earn $34.69 an hour for a two-bedroom apartment.

The California example is the reason why some workers who land their dream job at Google, or some other illustrious company, are being forced to live in RVs because basic housing has become so expensive on the West Coast.

Workers who are trying to live on minimum wage are only able to survive thanks to government programs that help them pay for their food, healthcare, and other services. These are all things to consider when talk of raising the minimum wage hopefully resurfaces this coming election season.

New discount

Store opens

Discount stores where new merchandise is offered at drastically reduced prices are gaining popularity. I featured one a couple weeks ago on Sparta Highway and now I’m pleased to report on the opening of $5 Dig Bins and Discount Store on Beersheba Street.

Store owners Stevie Lovelady and Melody Landry say the merchandise comes from stores like Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walgreen’s and JC Penney.

“We buy what’s called shelf pulls,” said Stevie. “After so long the stuff gets pulled and put on a pallet. I guess you could say I’m snooty because I only buy new merchandise now, nothing else. I sell it for 40 to 60 percent off the normal retail price.”

Stevie particularly wants to promote her dig bins, which are near the front door. She says she has daily specials on the dig bin items with prices sometimes as low as 50 cents or $1.

New merchandise is added weekly and workers were busy unloading a truck when I stopped by Friday afternoon. Those pallets included heaters, beauty items, Christmas ornaments and party supplies, among other things.

Stevie says she occasionally hides a high-dollar item in the dig bins to encourage customers to really look thoroughly. She said a Samsung Galaxy S5 cellphone that normally sells for over $100 is one item that can be found during special promotions in the dig bins for just $5.

“It’s a way to get people in here and get them excited about looking,” said Stevie.

As I walked through the store Friday some merchandise I noticed included: Nerf gun, skateboard, wall clock, bike, garden hose, iron, and Mr. Coffee. Video games and DVDs are offered all day, every day for $1.

You can find $5 Dig Bins and Discount Store at 418 Beersheba Street just before the bridge. Store hours are Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., and Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

That’s all folks

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