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Business Pulse - Prepare yourself for better fitness
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The interior of Planet Fitness is getting in good shape. A beehive of workers set up brand new equipment on Friday with the business expected to open this week at Northgate Center.

If you can’t wait to lose some weight, I bring great news today. Sound the trumpets and unlock the doors. Planet Fitness is scheduled to open in McMinnville this week.

In talking to Planet Fitness officials, there have already been 300 people who have signed up to join the gym and that’s before the first piece of equipment was put in place.

Friday was the start of equipment move in and these guys know what they’re doing. I guess there’s a reason there are more than 2,000 Planet Fitness locations scattered around the globe.

A forklift was wheeling exercise equipment to the front door and from there workers would wheel it in the door, put it at its designated location and finish the final setup. All the equipment is brand new. There’s no telling how much it costs for all that new equipment.

The 100-foot wall of TVs is in place and there will be a spacious cardio area. There are also free weights and machines.

Speaking from personal experience, there’s nothing better you can do in your life than to get in better shape. Regular exercise does wonders for the body and mind.

Just this past Wednesday, I was in a lousy mood. But after a visit to the gym I was able to break a good sweat and I left feeling like $20. With today’s inflation, I should say I felt like $40.

Better fitness is a positive thing for Warren County. Planet Fitness is here to help. From what I understand, the business is shooting for a Monday opening, but if that deadline isn’t reached it will open Thursday. 


Ryan Mason joins

Gardens of Memory


Gardens of Memory has landed a seasoned veteran in the funeral business to guide its operation on North Chancery Street.

Ryan Mason has been named manager of Gardens of Memory, bringing 23 years of experience to the local facility.

“I started working for High Funeral Home when I was still in high school,” said Ryan. “I’d been working as a freelance embalmer for seven funeral homes when Gardens of Memory approached me about becoming manager. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

It makes me feel old to say I remember taking pictures of Ryan when he was a basketball star for the Boyd Christian Broncos. He started working for High’s back in 1999 and graduated in 2000.

Ryan continued to pursue a career in the industry when he graduated from John A. Gupton College of Mortuary Science in 2008. He is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. 

“It’s really an honor to get to work with families at a very emotional time in their lives,” said Ryan. “It’s certainly a very difficult time and we want to make sure we carry out the wishes of each family in handling their arrangements.”

Ryan says each year more families are choosing cremation and he thinks affordability is one reason why. He says there are big plans in the works at Gardens of Memory and there might be an announcement in the future.

Ryan did funeral-related work before he officially began working for his first funeral home. His mom is Pam Wilson, proud owner of All O-K’sions, and Ryan has played a role in running that floral business.

Ryan and his wife Shaye got married on Halloween in a costume wedding and they recently celebrated the birth of their first child, Aspyn Mason, just 6 weeks old.

Ryan is a board member of Kids of the Community and he was a volunteer last year in the Lions Club food booth at the fair. He’s a member of Gath Baptist Church.

I think this is a great move for Gardens of Memory. I know Ryan will do a first-rate job.


Celebrate on Tuesday

With Bob Jones


It promises to be a festive occasion this Tuesday, July 19, from 4 to 6 p.m. at First National Bank on Main Street when a retirement celebration is held for Bob Jones.

Mr. Jones has 62 years of experience with the bank, climbing the ladder all the way to bank president and CEO from 1980 to 1995. He first began work at First National in 1960 and will remain an honorary member of the First National board of directors.

“I’d been in the Air Force for four years and was a lot younger when I first joined the bank,” said Jones, who is now 93. “The Lord has been good to me to let me live this long and to have allowed me to be associated with so many great people.”

Jones remembers the soaring interest rates of the late 1970s and early 1980s that approached 20%. As you might expect, the mortgage market completely dried up and construction came to a halt with such high interest rates. Unemployment was at its highest levels since the Great Depression.

“A lot of people wanted to blame the banks,” said Jones, although Federal Reserve chair Paul Volcker was showered with his share of criticism.

When he started lending money for homes, Jones said most loans didn’t top $50,000.

“Back then we couldn’t loan more than two-thirds the value of the house,” said Jones. “That has changed today and it’s probably not a good idea. I also noticed a home recently sold for $450,000 in one of our new subdivisions. I don’t think a house is worth that much money.”

In these volatile times where the market embarks on wild swings, Jones says, “A bank CD is as safe an investment as you can get during these times.”

Jones said it wasn’t too long ago when people did most of their banking in person. Now there’s a dramatic shift to online banking, he says.

“It’s cheaper to do it online and the results are faster,” said Jones.

Jones hopes to catch up with many old friends this Tuesday. He hasn’t been employed at the bank since 1995, spending the past 27 years on the board of directors.

Said current bank president and CEO Pieter van Vuuren, “We can’t say thank you enough to Bob for his contributions to First National Bank over the years. He has been instrumental in our success and growth. He cares about every single person he deals with and has influenced and helped so many in our community. He is a true role model for all of us. Thank you Bob!” 


The Greek Station

Calls it quits


It was four years ago in May 2018 when Mark and Teresa Dinwiddie brought a unique food trailer to McMinnville called The Greek Station.

Different than most food trailers around these parts that offer BBQ and Mexican food, The Greek Station provided a new experience with Greek pitas and hummus and baklava for dessert.

The Greek Station was set up at the famed Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree earlier this month but that was its last event. Mark is currently working at another restaurant, Teresa has returned to working in the medical field and The Greek Station trailer is for sale.

“I knew it was going to be a challenge offering that menu here in a rural area, but we wanted to try something different,” said Mark. 

He said sales had been pretty steady for most of his four years in business, although they have taken a dip in recent months. Combined with soaring fuel costs and food costs, Mark said he decided it was time to try something different.

Food trucks and food trailers have gained tremendous popularity in recent years and Mark says he thinks it’s a tremendous business opportunity that’s completely ready to operate with all the necessary kitchen equipment to get started immediately.

“I have been fortunate to have gotten to meet so many great folks at daily local setups and many event venues,” said Mark. “I will greatly miss seeing folks and having new food for people to try for the first time.”

Mark has been cooking since the days when he worked at the City Drug lunch counter on Main Street as a teen. Teresa worked just around the corner at Dinty Moore.

City Drug burned years ago and is now a gravel parking lot. Dinty Moore seems like it’s always been closed.

I’d like to thank Mark and Teresa Dinwiddie for bringing this new food option to McMinnville. It may not have been as widely embraced as they hoped, but it was a welcome change of pace.

If you’d like to find out more about buying The Green Station food trailer, give Mark a call at (931) 607-1762. 


Farmers Market

Open Tuesday nights


I love brilliant ideas and it looks like Tuesday night hours at the Farmers Market fits into that category of a brilliant idea.

With so many delicious vegetables in season and ready to sell, the Farmers Market is now open on Tuesday nights from 5 to 8 p.m. through the end of August.

“A lot of people get off work at 5 p.m. and it’s real convenient to swing by,” said Farmers Market manager Ginger Wanamaker. “We were really busy on our first Tuesday from 5 to about 6:30 p.m. and then it slowed down a little bit.”

Ginger said right at 20 vendors showed up for the first Tuesday night sale last week.

Now is a great time for corn and the Farmers Market has plenty to sell. Corn Day with free boiled corn complete with salt, pepper and butter, is Saturday, July 30.

Other Farmers Market hours are 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.


VW looks

To hire 1,000


It’s not Warren County job news, but I found it noteworthy nonetheless that Volkswagen in Chattanooga is in the process of hiring 1,000 new production workers.

Inflation is troubling and rising interest rates are not ideal, but our financial shape can only be so bad if we have 1,000 jobs available that pay very well.

As you’d expect, hiring 1,000 has not been a quick process. I dread having to find one new employee so the folks at VW must be ready to scream.

To sweeten the deal, VW added a $3,000 signing bonus. The bonus comes in two payments of $1,500 after 90 days and another $1,500 after 180 days.

Adding workers comes as Volkswagen is expandings its Tennessee facility as the company’s North American hub for electric vehicle manufacturing and battery pack assembly.

The production positions would be primarily for second, third and fourth shifts. Fourth shift is mainly weekend work along with one day during the week.

Pay will begin at $24.40, including shift premium and quarterly bonuses, and will top out at $33 an hour.

MapQuest lists the trip from McMinnville to the VW plant in Chattanooga as taking 1 hour, 28 minutes and being 75 miles. It’s a bit of a commute to be sure.

The VW Chattanooga plant began production in April 2011 and currently employs more than 4,000 people. An application can be found easily online by doing a Google search for Volkswagen jobs in Chattanooga.


That's all folks


I see a trip to New Orleans in my future. But wherever I go and whatever I do, your business tips are important to me. Send me an email at editor@southernstandard.com for news you would like to see in this column.