Larry York got his start selling vacuum cleaners on Sparta Street at what is now Rafael’s Restaurant.
Four moves later, Larry says he’s found the permanent home for IntelliClean Solutions, which has a workforce of 10 and sells about 100 vacuums a day.
“I never would have imagined I would need this much space,” said Larry while standing in his 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Mt. View Industrial Park in Morrison. “When I first started, it was just me and my wife, Gina. I was out doing sales calls one day when a big truck came in and Gina had to unload 500 vacuums by herself. We were really small back then.”
The business operated in about 1,000 square feet when it was at the Rafael’s spot on Sparta Street. Larry, the company co-founder, thought he had enough space with his previous facility with 12,000 square feet on Durham Street, but he outgrew that too.
IntelliClean keeps getting bigger thanks to the popularity of its Quantum X upright water vacuum, which sells for $399. Larry was pleased to point out there has not been a price increase during the pandemic.
All shipments throughout the U.S. originate from the warehouse in Morrison, which also handles all the repair work with a three-person staff. The vacuums are made in China, which creates an extra layer of work getting them to McMinnville.
Larry has hired Brian Moore to serve as his director of operations. Moore used to do similar work for a large company in Southern California, but yearned for a different environment because of the soaring cost of West Coast living and a commute that took three hours.
“When I started making the commute, it took 90 minutes, but that was before the traffic got really bad,” said Brian. “That same commute was taking me three hours before I decided I had enough. I’d have to leave my house at 5 a.m. to get to work at 8 a.m.”
Brian says the cost of shipping containers has gone down from $25,000 a couple months ago to around $17,000 now. He said shipping containers cost about $7,000 two years ago.
“During the first quarter, things started to settle down a bit in ports on the U.S. side,” said Brian, who has worked for IntelliClean for 2.5 years.
He said once shipping containers are offloaded it’s better to pay the more expensive price to have them trucked to McMinnville. He said it’s cheaper to go by rail, but it takes much longer so it’s better to pay the higher price for faster delivery.
Larry says the upright water vacuums are a great product and IntelliClean offers a 30-day trial for anyone who wants to try it for a month. On occasion, there is a return and Larry says the service department checks over the vacuum to ensure it’s in proper working order before selling it as refurbished.
Twelve more shipping containers full of the Quantum X have been ordered with arrival expected in mid-May. Brian said they’ve considered the feasibility of manufacturing the vacuums here in Warren County but he said so many parts would still have to be ordered from China that they would encounter the same shipping issues.
The company has a 24-hour line for service questions which is manned around the clock.
Sales are mainly retail, although there are a few wholesale customers.
If you’re interested in your own Quantum X vacuum, the number to call is 844-324-1411.
In a sad bit of news I noticed on Friday, the Wall Street Journal is reporting the average American family will pay about $276 more per month for basic supplies like food, utilities and rent due to inflation. That will certainly add up fast.
A separate story I read on CNBC predicted wage growth would begin to slow too, providing a double whammy. The CNBC story said all the extra money that families had stockpiled through government stimulus checks and the child tax credit was getting depleted because those programs are finished.
Since family bank accounts are getting flattened, it’s time to get back to work. And all those extra workers will make it easier to find employees so it will keep wages from soaring too much higher, the story suggested.
Old natural gas
The old Middle Tennessee Natural Gas building at 569 N. Chancery Street has been leveled. Watching those Caterpillar backhoes at work on Friday, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the same thing should have been done to the Blue Building over 10 years ago.
The old Middle Tennessee Natural Gas building has its share of memories too. Teresa Mathis Hennessee went on the Standard’s Facebook page on Friday to write about how she used to wait tables at that building when it was Golden Corral. She worked there through high school from 1979 to 1982.
Looking back at Warren County property tax records, 1979 appears to be the date the building was constructed. It had 6,857 square feet of space.
MTNG moved out to a new office by the high school on Manchester Highway. Coffee Bank & Trust now owns the property and plans to build a new bank there. Coffee Bank & Trust has operated a branch in McMinnville since November at the old Allstate office near McDonald’s.
The hope is to have a new bank built and open in 9-12 months, provided things go according to plan.
“We’re hoping 9 to 12 months but that may be a little too quick,” said city president Chase McGee. “It’s so hard to tell right now with the way supplies are going. You don’t know what you can get and when you can get it. We are going to have a modern bank building that looks awesome when we get finished. It’s going to be a great addition to McMinnville. We’re already seeing good growth.”
Rumors that a Steak N Shake will be constructed at that location are not true.
I’ve received a number of questions about Whitey’s Small Engine Repair on Sparta Street. I’ve even driven by myself a couple times and pulled on the door, but the business has been closed in recent weeks.
I had a chance to talk to longtime owner Whitey Cantrell on Friday and he told me the plan is to reopen as soon as his health permits.
“I want to be back as soon as I possibly can,” said Whitey. “When I do, I want to come back wide open.”
Whitey said he recently spent a week at a Murfreesboro hospital because of swelling and problems with his legs. He said the problem hit him at a really bad time, just when people were starting to get their mowers ready for the season.
Whitey’s has been in business since 1976 and been at his same location on Sparta Street for about 30 years. He said the business has changed a whole bunch over the years and mowers have advanced greatly since push mowers sold for $29.98 back in the 1970s.
“It was nearly all push mowers when I got started,” said Whitey. “The only riding mowers were rear-engine riders and there weren’t many of them. When they moved the engines to the front in 1978 that's when sales started to pick up. Now most of them are riders or zero-turn commercial.”
When Whitey does get his shop back open he may have to do much of the work himself. He is sad to say his chief mechanic died unexpectedly last year of a heart attack at age 52. He said another of his mechanics suffered a stroke and can no longer do the work. So it might just be a full-circle trip for Whitey back to the days when he fixed all the mowers himself.
The shops of Rock Island are joining together this coming Saturday, April 9, for a Spring Eggstravaganza from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Plastic Easter eggs are known for having fabulous prizes inside. The eggs Rock Island merchants will be handing out will be no different. Customers can crack open their egg to see how big their discount will be when their shopping is complete.
Kilo the drug dog will make an appearance at Mill Rock Farm at 1 p.m. and a beekeeper will also be on hand with honey tasting. Egg painting and food vendors are other scheduled attractions.
The Rock Island Trolley will be open serving its ice cream treats and every business in the Rock Island community will be participating in the event.