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Business Pulse: 5-4-14
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There is an important announcement I’d like to make. Business Pulse is proud to welcome new Industrial Development Board director Don Alexander to McMinnville. His first official day on the job was Thursday.
I had a chance to meet with Don on Friday morning and chat with him about his career, which includes time with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Don said he is busy learning the ropes from former IDB director George Burke, who is staying on staff until June 30 to help in the transition.
Don said the Department of Economic and Community Development has undergone many changes since he worked there as a project manager in the late 1970s.
“Our thrust was to sell the state,” said Don. “At that time, I showed a site to Nissan representatives. They didn’t take that site, but I think they ended up in a much better area. I worked with some companies moving into Century Industrial Park in Franklin and I helped with some projects in Murfreesboro with some companies that are still there today and have enjoyed growth.”
Back in those days, Don said he worked with local resident John Cox, who was a key economic development official in Warren County.
Don said he understands how manufacturing needs are constantly changing so it’s vital to adapt with the times.
“In my home county of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., there used to be nine cotton gins working 24 hours a day in August and September when I was a kid,” said Don. “Now there are no cotton gins so you can see how things change.”
Don pointed to phone booths and beepers as two things that were once popular but are now obsolete. He says it’s vital to remain flexible and be receptive to new technology in order to embrace growth.
He pointed to Warren County’s recent success with companies like Miniature Precision Components, Sansin and DN Plastics as proof this community is headed in the right direction.
“I liken it to climbing a fence,” said Don. “When you climb a fence, you want to be close to a post because that’s what provides support. Right now Warren County is that support. We see companies are locating here because they want stability and they are finding it.”
Don said he likes the idea of having spec buildings on hand because he has found it to be a great tool to attract industries. That has certainly proven true in Warren County where we have constructed three spec buildings and leased all three of them.
“One of the things that has worked before and still works today is to have an available building,” said Don. “That gives you a competitive edge which is extremely important. Like it or not, this is a competitive business and we’re in competition with everyone around us. It’s not just limited to the United States anymore. There’s nothing that says a company has to locate within the borders of America.”
Don is a likable guy who has pledged to be a hard worker. I think he will do well.
As for George Burke, we haven’t heard the last of him. If you recall, George is a licensed attorney and the IDB is in need of someone to fill that role after the resignation of Susan Marttala. It looks like George will be the IDB’s new lawyer.

DN Plastics update

It was last week I told you about the progress taking place at the DN Plastics site on Manchester Highway in Morrison. I speculated the company would have trouble reaching its June 13 target date of having product flowing out its doors.
Since that time I have been mocked and ridiculed for that statement with people telling me DN Plastics would indeed be manufacturing from its Warren County site by June 13. OK, I’ll buy my ticket and jump on the bandwagon.
There has in fact been tremendous progress at that location over the past week. Much of the steel for the 110,000-square-foot building was erected last week and I understand roof work is scheduled for this week.
When this building is complete, I think people are going to be amazed at its size. The building is clearly visibly from Manchester Highway which will give motorists a chance to admire it as they’re driving by.

Record store has new spot

Big Sound Record Store has a new location in the old Shockley Carpet building on Chancery Street. A grand opening celebration featuring live bands was held Saturday to coincide with Back to The Strip Night.
Big Sound Record Store specializes in used albums and has developed quite a regional following. In addition to the album store, owners Angela McCormack and Richard Swim are moving their other businesses to that same location. Those businesses are Pure Logic Tax Service and Hometown Technologies.
It will be three businesses rolled into one, although the album store is clearly the most fun of the three.
“People are coming from all over to shop in our store,” said Richard. “We liked our Main Street location but we simply outgrew it. We’re finding people are getting back to enjoying the whole shopping experience. They like to come in and look at records in person instead of buying them online.”
Richard said albums have really soared in popularity for the 15- to 25-year-old demographic. He said these are people who grew up in the CD age and are discovering how much fun listening to records can be.
Angela and Richard have long-range plans for the business, which includes other locations in Manchester and Sparta. Angela says she is working on obtaining a grant from the Bonnaroo Works Foundation that will combine her knowledge in accounting with her desire to help musicians better manage their finances.
“Nobody cares about artists and musicians until they’re millionaires and by that time it can be too late,” said Angela. “Look at Elvis. He was astounded by wealth because he didn’t know what to do. When he died, he was left with only $200,000.”
Angela pointed to Dolly Parton as someone who has handled her wealth properly.
“Dolly has enriched everything she’s touched,” said Angela. “She’s sent books to every pre-schooler in the state and if you live in Sevier County she’ll send you to college for free if you can’t afford it.”
Angela says she hopes to be awarded the Bonnaroo Works Grant so she can help artists she knows throughout Middle Tennessee.
As for Big Sound Record Store, it can be reached at 607-1206. Regular business hours are Thursday thru Saturday.

Mi Familia plans grand opening

If you’re a Mexican restaurant, there’s probably no better time to have a grand opening celebration than Cinco de Mayo. For those who don’t speak Spanish, that translates to May 5.
Mi Familia restaurant in Morrison is having its grand opening this Monday to coincide with Cinco de Mayo and offering a 25 percent discount on all food as a grand opening special.
Owner Alfonso Fuentes says Mi Familia has been doing a soft opening to make sure everything is in order and now he feels like restaurant employees are ready for the mad rush he hopes arrives Monday.
“We have spent three months doing quite a bit of remodeling because this place was old and run down,” said Alfonso, whose family owns two other Mexican restaurants in the Chattanooga area. “The bathrooms were horrible so we remodeled those. We’ve poured concrete and fixed the floors. We’ve remodeled the kitchen and the dining room. The whole restaurant looks a lot nicer.”
For those of you counting at home, Mi Familia marks the seventh Mexican restaurant for Warren County. Apparently the community can support that many because they all seem to be doing relatively well.
Alfonso says he has heard horror stories about previous restaurants that have opened at his location and he wants customers to know he is committed to providing a quality dining experience.
“We have a clean restaurant with good food and great service,” said Alfonso. “I hope people come in and give us a chance.”
He says Mi Familia has the best salsa in the world along with some unique specialty dishes. It’s located on Manchester Highway in Morrison on the corner with the traffic light. The phone number is 635-2554.

A great place for quilts

If you’re looking for a place to buy quilts or quilt supplies, look no further than Gray Barn Quilts & Fabric. Business owners Jennifer and Sid Grove want to get the word out about their business because they are tucked away in a residential neighborhood away from commercial traffic.
They say they commonly hear people say, “I never knew you were back here” and they would like for that to change. That will always be the case in some respects because Gray Barn Quilts is located at 106 Jackson Street, which is several blocks off Sparta Street at the end of a dead-end road.
Jennifer handles most of the daily business operations with the help of longtime quilter Jewell Thomison, who has been quilting since she was 8. I won’t tell Jewell’s age, but she’s been quilting for 68 years.
While most folks don’t think of men when it comes to quilting, Sid does his part too when he’s not working his full-time job with TDOT.
“I enjoy putting them together and making sure all the squares line up right,” said Sid. “If they don’t, I’ll keep monkeying with them until they do.”
Jennifer and Sid are trying to gain more exposure. They participated in the most recent Civic Center craft fair and are considering doing the Smithville Jamboree.
If you want supplies, Gray Barn Quilts has fabric from between $3.99 and $8.99 a yard. They have pins, needles, thread and embroidery floss. They have made some enormous quilts, including one that was 103 inches wide by 110 inches long.
If you’re looking for an original fabric, the business offers a wide selection, even carrying John Deere, Duck Dynasty, and UT Vol fabric. Along those lines, they have a quilt for sale that’s half UT and half Alabama.
“It’s for the couples who are split about who to root for,” said Sid.
As for their out-of-the-way location, Sid said they have to live with it because it’s the only way they can stay afloat.
“We could have rented some high-dollar store on The Strip but we would have been out of business by now,” he said.
Gray Barns Quilts & Fabric is open Thursday thru Saturday with other times available by appointment. The phone number is 474-6038.

That’s all folks

May the candidate of your choice emerge victorious in Tuesday’s election. Phone in business tips at 473-2191.