I want to start this week’s column with a shout-out to Morrison Industries, which has announced it’s opening a second facility in Detroit, Mich., early next year.
It continues an amazing run for a homegrown business started by Ron and Renee Wilson that had less than 10 employees when it began operation in 1994.
Thanks to help from our Industrial Development Board and its spec building program, the company was able to expand and grow its workforce to as many as 300 employees. With an upcoming plant in Michigan, Morrison Industries will be in the hub of the automotive world and will be able to glean business from what’s known as The Big Three of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
“Thirty-five to 40 percent of all automotive production in America happens in a very condensed area up there,” said Morrison Industries president and CEO Jacob Wilson. “If you take a 30-minute drive you’ll pass four or five assembly plants.”
With a sales team hard at work in Detroit, it will lead to orders at the facility in Michigan, but also more work here in Warren County.
“Morrison will always be our headquarters and our largest facility,” said Jacob. “We’re Warren County people and we’re proud to call Warren County home. This is an opportunity to increase our reach and bring more work to Morrison.”
We have larger employers in Warren County such as Yorozu and Bridgestone, but I can’t think of a family business that’s grown to the extent of Morrison Industries. It receives the five-star Business Cheetah seal of approval, the highest ranking a local company can achieve.
Plans for another hotel
Last week I told you about an investment group looking to put a hotel inside the existing Blue Building.
Today, I bring information about plans for a new hotel on North Chancery Street. The project is a joint effort of Mike Sheth, owner of Best Western Tree City Inn, and his son, Kevel Sheth, owner of Tree City Wine & Spirits.
The proposed hotel site is land off the two-lane portion of North Chancery Street just up from Neil Helton State Farm as you’re heading to Walmart.
“The land my dad and I are planning to purchase is contingent on it becoming zoned for commercial,” said Keval. “We are already in talks with IHG about potentially bringing one of their brands to McMinnville. We would also like to build a banquet hall attached to the hotel as we know the city is in need for such a space. Lastly, we are in very early talks with restaurant chains to bring onto the property.”
Changing the zoning on that property should not be an issue. McMinnville Planning Commission members met Tuesday and approved a request from current property owner Bud Sharp to rezone the property from residential to commercial. All that’s needed now is approval from McMinnville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
During the meeting, Planning Commission members expressed support because the property is surrounded by other commercial properties.
“That’s the only property left there that’s residential,” said member Steve Harvey, who is also an alderman. “I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t. It seems like a no-brainer to me.”
Rezoning requests must be presented in an ordinance and receive two passing reads before McMinnville officials. While you can never be sure what McMinnville officials will do, I feel confident in saying I believe the property will be rezoned.
That means Keval and Mike will soon have a very large project on their hands. The IHG that Keval was referring to stands for InterContinental Hotels Group and has about 10 brands, including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
I’d think we’d be a great fit for a Holiday Inn Express and the Sheths used to be in partnership with that brand before changing to Best Western. In talking to Mike on Friday, he said he foresees plans for a 60- to 70-room hotel.
As for a timetable for city government action, if the ordinance can be drawn up in time there could be a first reading Nov. 14 and second and final reading Nov. 28.
While anything can happen in the world of business and this deal may never materialize, I think this should serve as a wake-up call to city officials. North Chancery Street has nearly reached the end of its usefulness as a two-lane street. It needs to be widened.
Lunch Lady ready to serve
Stacy Lee has done what many people daydream about. In June, she up and quit her job and decided to change her life.
Because of her ambition, she’s now known as The Lunch Lady and she is operating a food truck Wednesday thru Friday at 1112 Sparta Street across from Whitey’s Small Engine Repair.
“Feeding my husband is like feeding a teenager. He eats all the time,” said Stacy. “I always found myself cooking so I decided to open a food truck. It’s an all-consuming job between menu planning, shopping and cooking, but I figure what better to think about than food?”
Stacy has spent the past two months at a regular location in Altamont. Her goal was to find a permanent location in McMinnville and she believes she has a great spot on high-traffic Sparta Street.
“I’m learning what McMinnville wants in terms of food and time,” said Stacy. “I’d describe my menu by saying it’s American comfort food that’s fast and healthy.”
Stacy says her grilled chicken breast with stir fried oriental vegetables has been an early hit. It’s served over jasmine rice with a special brown sauce that pulls no punches when it comes to taste. She also offers a 10-layer burrito which should serve as a symbol of deliciousness.
“I know I’m right next to Chabalita’s but this is completely different than your typical Mexican burrito,” said Stacy.
If you just want the basics, The Lunch Lady offers BBQ, hotdogs and burgers hot off the grill.
On Wednesday she served a full turkey dinner complete with all the trimmings. Other regular offerings will include lasagna and shepherd’s pie, a dish with meat, vegetables and mashed potatoes on top as a browned crust.
Her food truck will be open Wednesday thru Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. She sets up at special events on weekends and other occasions and was one of the food trucks swamped with customers in downtown McMinnville for the Great American Eclipse Party.
If you’d like more information, The Lunch Lady can be reached at (931) 247-8003. She will answer if she’s not slammed with a lunch rush.
Grand Rental says goodbye
It’s with sadness I report Grand Rental Station is no longer part of our business community. After more than 20 years of renting heavy equipment and party supplies, Grand Rental closed its doors Oct. 30.
“If you try to do everything, you can’t do it well,” said Grand Rental owner Keith Bouldin, who told me Friday commercial construction is booming at another one of his businesses, Tri-State Development.
Among projects on the horizon, Tri-State will be constructing a 103,000-square-foot spec building for the Coffee County Industrial Development Board. Tri-State is also constructing a 60,000-square-foot commercial building in Winchester.
In addition, Keith also has a growing property division that demands attention so I would say his resources aren’t being best utilized if he has to worry about equipment and party rentals. “The party rental business is especially labor intensive when you’re talking about setting up tents, tables and chairs.”
The good news is if you’d like to purchase the tents, tables, chairs, dozers, backhoes, tillers, trenchers and other items that were formerly available at Grand Rental, you can do so. If you’d like to inquire about purchasing them, call Tri-State at 473-8718 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The terribly bad news is there’s no longer an equipment rental business in McMinnville. At one point not too long ago, McMinnville had three in Grand Rental, Handy Rental and U.S. Equipment, a division of U.S Auto Sales. Handy Rental closed about five years ago to the best of my memory and U.S. Auto Sales stopped renting equipment over a year ago.
That leaves the closest equipment rental businesses in Cookeville and Manchester, which is unfortunate. There are times when a piece of heavy equipment is needed, but no one wants to pay $10,000 to use something once. That’s why equipment rental is so cost-effective.
For anyone looking to fill a hole in our local business landscape, equipment rental might be the thing. Keith told me it’s a viable business but he’s being pulled in too many directions and no longer has time.
Holiday season has begun
As soon as Halloween passed, we were bombarded here at the Standard office with every Christmas toy, food, and clothing collection imaginable. I don’t say this in a negative way but strictly as a matter of fact.
In picking one such collection to highlight, let me turn your attention to Shoe Sensation at Three Star Mall where a Socks For Troops collection is underway until Dec. 24.
Each Shoe Sensation store will be collecting socks for active duty military or local veterans around the community. Shoe Sensation will have military approved socks in store and customers will be able to receive 20 percent off the socks donated. Customers will also be able to bring in new socks to be donated.
Stop by Shoe Sensation and support our troops.
That’s all folks
It promises to be a heart-warming Christmas season. To be featured in this column with your business news, email firstname.lastname@example.org.