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Business Pulse: 9-14-14
MPC - Chris Dunn
Miniature Precision Components plant manager Chris Dunn says the company has room to add five more production lines at its Morrison facility. The company has 68 employees and works 24-hour days Monday thru Friday.

The claims there are no jobs anywhere to be found are finally beginning to subside as I think everyone realizes there are plenty of jobs available for folks who are willing to work.
The claims of no jobs have been replaced by complaints from area managers who say they can’t find quality employees for the jobs they do have available. I hear stories of folks getting hired and working a day and a half before walking off the job.
I guess we can never be content. There are either never enough jobs, or never enough quality employees.
It’s with that in mind I want to tell you about a regional job fair this Thursday, Sept. 18, in Woodbury. The job fair, which is being conducted through the state, is for multiple companies in Cannon County looking to fill a variety of different positions.
If you need to find work, several companies in Cannon County are hiring. The job fair is Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cannon County Library, 212 College Street, 37190.

MPC enjoys steady growth

When Warren County government made the financial commitment to construct Spec Building 2, the plan was to attract a manufacturing company that would bring quality jobs to our community. That plan has been accomplished as Miniature Precision Components is approaching three years of production at Mt. View Industrial Park in Morrison.
MPC got its start in January 2012 with one production line and 12 employees. The company has now grown to 68 employees, seven lines, and has expanded by 50,000 square feet. MPC is also leasing 105,000 square feet at the old Carrier building.
When I stopped by MPC on Thursday, plant manager Chris Dunn was kind enough to give me a tour of the facility. The local plant specializes in making plastic engine covers for Ford, Nissan, Chrysler, General Motors and Honda.
“Demand is strong right now and we’re enjoying that,” said Chris. “We’re working 24 hours a day, five days a week with an occasional Saturday.”
MPC is headquartered in Wisconsin. The company made the decision to expand to Middle Tennessee because the South has become the new hub for the automotive industry.
“One of our advantages is we’re close to our customers,” said Chris. “That means there is less cost for them. If these were still being made in Wisconsin, it would cost more for trucking.”
The only part currently being manufactured in Morrison is a plastic engine cover, which is an aesthetic piece. The part is made through plastic mold injection.
The process starts with large quantities of tiny plastic pellets that can be compared to BBs. Those pellets are heated to liquid form and then injected into a metal mold. Once in the mold, the plastic is cooled and removed by a robotic arm as an engine cover.
“Our competitive edge is our people and our ability to run the equipment,” said Chris. “We are looking very aggressively to fill the back half of the building and diversify from engine covers to other products.”
With seven lines currently in operation, Chris said MPC has space for about five more. The finished engine covers are transported to the old Carrier building which serves as MPC’s distribution site.
“We do all of our distribution out of the Carrier building,” said Chris. “That way we can focus on manufacturing here and focus on distribution there.”
In addition to the companies MPC in Morrison is already serving, there are other automotive opportunities. Kia has a plant in Alabama, BMW has a plant in Spartanburg, S.C., and Volkswagen has a plant in Chattanooga.
In sticking to the job theme mentioned earlier in this column, Chris says MPC is continually looking for good employees. He doesn’t have an exact projection of how many jobs the company is adding, but he did say hiring is ongoing.
If you’d like to apply for a job at Miniature Precision Components, stop by the company located on Brost Drive in the industrial park. The phone number is 635-4600.

Medley to open store in Viola

For all the folks eager for a store to open in Viola, Billy Medley is coming to the rescue. He has purchased the old Viola Valley Country Store and plans to turn it into a mini Walmart of sorts to serve many of the needs of the Viola community.
“It’s going to be a full-service restaurant,” said Billy. “But we’re also going to have a convenience store so people won’t have to run all the way to town to buy milk, bread, or whatever they need. We’ll also sell meat and we’re applying for our beer license.”
If you recall, Harold and Judy Cook first opened Viola Valley Country Store in December 2008. Their plan was to offer a little of everything to Viola residents so they wouldn’t have to make trips to town for every little item.
The plan worked well as Harold and Judy opened a mechanic shop in the back and even built a mini storage unit too. They stayed open about five years.
“Our plan is to continue what Harold started,” said Billy. “One big thing we’re adding is we’re going to sell gas. I’ve had the property a month and could have already had the restaurant open by now if it wasn’t for the gas tanks and dealing with the EPA. All of that takes time.”
I’m sure Viola residents will be thrilled at the news Billy is going to sell gasoline. To the best of my knowledge, Viola has been without gasoline sales since Rabbit Hobbs stopped selling it at his service station on Viola Town Square in 2001. Rabbit retired in June 2002 after 51 years of operating the service station. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 11 years since he died in December 2003.
That trip down memory lane aside, Billy says he’s excited about the upcoming opening of his new store in Viola, which he estimates will happen in about a month. He’s operated his share of stores around Warren County including Crisp Springs Market and what’s now Kat’s Diner in Centertown. Billy and his wife, Laura, currently operate Medley’s Diner on Manchester Highway in Morrison.
“I don’t think the restaurant will do nearly as much business as we do in Morrison, but it’s going to be that same great Medley’s food,” said Billy. “I might even try to get my brother Junior to run it for me. He lives out this way now.”
I think Junior is more interested in moving back to McMinnville and running for mayor.
We’ll have to see how that pans out. As for the new store in Viola, look for it to open in around a month.
The former Apex Construction building on Manchester Highway has been leased to a new tenant, according to property owner Greg Brock. Greg told me on Friday a medical startup company will be moving into the spacious facility.
That sounds like interesting news and I’m trying to find out more information. I’ll pass along more when I learn more.
Along those same lines, shopping center manager Tommy Duggin told me Friday the old Peking Restaurant building at Plaza Shopping Center has been leased. He told me four Warren County residents are collaborating on a new restaurant to be opened at that location.
Details are sketchy at this point and I’m trying to uncover more information. I had heard in the past it was going to be an Italian restaurant and that the old Vineyard Restaurant in Newtown was considered as a possible location. I hope to know more in the coming weeks.

State Farm Challenge

Many of you may remember the online contest sponsored by State Farm called Celebrate My Drive. Warren County High School participated in this contest last year and won $25,000.
The contest returns this year and local State Farm agents are looking for WCHS to step it up a notch and claim the $100,000 grand prize. Yes, that is a lot of money.
As is the norm nowadays, this contest is won based on online voting. During the contest period from Oct. 15-24, participants can log onto and cast one vote for WCHS per day. Local residents can vote once per day for every email address they have.
Since voting once per day during the 10-day contest period may seem like a burden, local State Farm agents are willing to help. They were actively collecting email addresses at the Warren County A&L Fair and they will continue this practice of collecting emails until the contest begins.
The goal is to collect as many email addresses as possible and then have WCHS students vote using those emails so local residents are not burdened with the responsibility.
“We would like to challenge other local businesses to provide us with a list of their email addresses,” said State Farm agent Bill Zechman. “Every participant is allowed to vote once a day Oct. 15-24, and the student volunteers will take care of logging in and casting the ballots in favor of WCHS. We think this would be more convenient for those who wish to see our high school win one of the big  cash prizes. It also ensures every email address is voted every day during the contest period.”
Zechman says this is a positive way to get State Farm premium money returned to the community without having to suffer the consequences of a car crash or a house fire. He says providing State Farm your email address will not result in endless spam delivered to your inbox. It will only result in online votes for WCHS.
Anyone interested in supplying their email address in hopes of helping WCHS win $100,000 can contact local State Farm offices at 473-1539, 473-6523 or 473-7646.

That’s all folks

Despite business news normally being very slow the week of the fair, I was able to dig up a little information for your reading pleasure. Give me a call with your business tips at 473-2191 or