Warren County ingenuity is alive and well at Kalco Corporation, a blossoming company under the direction of president and CEO Ken Lawson.
I’m constantly searching for distinct businesses to feature in this column and Kalco is certainly that. It’s a snapshot of innovation, manufacturing a full line of greenhouse equipment and accessories. Perhaps its crown jewel of achievements was just unveiled Friday, a mini skid steer that was designed and completely manufactured here in Warren County.
Called the Quad Cat, this nifty machine is capable of supporting 30 tool attachments such as an auger, tiller and trencher. It can be sold on a rubber track, as pictured at right, or come on wheels.
Without getting into too much technical detail, Ken says this is a convenient all-purpose farm product because of its size.
“This is a very unique machine and it’s one people can afford,” said Ken. “I don’t see the use in making something the customer can’t afford. This machine is not overkill. It’s not under kill. We feel it’s just right.”
Ken is the son of Avery Lawson, who gained fame around these parts when he started Bouldin & Lawson in 1959 with Sonny Bouldin. When looking around our community today, it’s amazing how many spin-off companies are in existence thanks to the knowledge gained from people who once worked at Bouldin & Lawson.
Ken said that’s certainly the case with Kalco.
“I am where I am today because of my father and Sonny,” said Ken. “They played a very integral part on where I am because of the inspiration they gave me.”
Ken began dealing with machines in 1999. He started Kalco in 2004. The business was located behind Korner Market on Field Street for three years before moving directly across from the airport in July 2016.
The move allowed the business to double its space and expand from two employees to eight. Kalco sells to customers all over the United States, including California, Oregon, Florida, New York and Texas. Its biggest customer has 87 locations and changed the way Kalco does business.
“Having that customer put us into a production-type process,” said Ken. “My goal is to have our machines in all 50 states.”
Ken says he is fully focused on growth and hopes his new mini skid steer is a product that gains traction.
“There are other companies that make one but it’s too expensive,” said Ken. “The one we just completed is our prototype and will be our working model for production. When we get into production, we can make about 10 a month with our initial startup. The more we sell, the more people we can hire.”
Ken has many distributors but says he will always sell directly to Warren County residents. He also said Kalco is happy to rebuild machines for local customers. The company makes and sells hydraulic hoses and fittings.
If you’d like to learn more about Kalco, it’s located at 422 Old Nashville Highway. It can be reached at 815-5252.
Undoubtedly the most impactful business news of the week was on the front page of Wednesday’s edition with the announcement Yorozu is reducing its workforce to around 1,200 employees.
When it comes to local jobs, this is a major loss as Yorozu had north of 1,900 employees at its peak and was the largest employer in the entire 14-county Upper Cumberland area. The current workforce is around 1,600, according to Yorozu America president Jack Phillips.
The downsizing is due to a new Yorozu plant in Alabama, which began operation in January. The new plant was needed from a logistics standpoint to better serve Yorozu customers in that region.
It was also needed because the Yorozu plant in Warren County had ballooned to unsustainable proportions. With the robust economy and low unemployment we’re enjoying, we don’t have the workforce to support it.
Fortunately, Yorozu plans no layoffs. The workforce reduction will be achieved through natural attrition. That means when someone quits or retires, they won’t be replaced.
It’s also noteworthy to mention the automotive boon that has carried Warren County on its shoulders for the past five years should be expected to slow in the coming years. When that happens, we’re going to be missing those jobs at Yorozu.
The Industrial Development Board has been talking about constructing a spec building for more than a year.
During Thursday’s regular monthly meeting, IDB director Don Alexander revealed that it might not be a spec building after all. Don says a company is expressing high interest about locating in Warren County so the new building might be built to suit its exact needs.
“We have a possible prospect and we’re working on numbers with them right now,” said Don. “It looks promising, very good.”
Industrial prospects are typically kept top secret with the name tucked away in a bank vault, metaphorically speaking. This prospect is no different. When I asked Don about job projections, he said he could not elaborate any further about the company at this time.
These deals usually take months to complete so I don’t anticipate new information any time soon, but I will pass it along when it becomes available.
The excitement of
Many sports fans were doused in excitement and burst into flames of joy in June when the Nashville Predators advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.
Professional hockey season is once again underway and the Preds were off to a 4-2-1 start heading into Saturday’s game. If you don’t want to miss any action on the ice, you’re in luck because Mud Bums at Northgate Center has been certified as an official Preds Approved Viewing Location.
Mud Bums owner Donna Turner said she had to complete an application process to become an official viewing site. What that means is anytime the Predators have a game, they will be on TV at Mud Bums.
“We’ll always have the game on,” said Donna. “Anytime the Preds score we’ll offer drink specials.”
Donna said Mud Bums is the only official Preds viewing location in McMinnville. The distinction has other perks.
“We have the right to use promotional photos and logos in advertising and receive promotional products periodically for viewing parties,” said Donna. “They are also going to schedule a visit from the Nashville Predators viewing team or mascot or broadcast personalities during at least one away game.”
Donna was busy handing out plenty of Preds merchandise Thursday night as Nashville beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 1-0. Jason Fann was rooting the Preds to victory and Donna gave him a Preds oven mitt for his support. The oven mitt will likely come in handy as Jason is known for his skills in the kitchen.
If you haven’t been to Mud Bums yet to watch the Preds, don’t fret. There are still 74 games left in the regular season.
Pet store has
A new meow
Philip Hall travels around the state and beyond with the Morrison-based mobile petting zoo Party Animals. He decided to take his love for animals one step further by purchasing the pet shop at 488 North Chancery Street and renaming it Pet World.
“I can’t tell you the number of different animals I’ve raised from the bottle,” said Philip.
Party Animals has all sorts of exotic animals from porcupines to a kangaroo. Philip won’t sell those sort of critters at Pet World, but he does have a wide selection of birds, snakes, reptiles, fish, cats and more.
“People have been coming in just to see the fox,” said Philip while holding Bella, who freely roams around the office and is available to pet.
The chameleon catches attention for its ability to change colors. It also has a long tongue that it uses like a sticky lasso to grab its prey and sling it into its mouth.
There’s an iguana that can scurry around the office with amazing quickness when it’s let out of its aquarium. The iguana can use its claw-like feet to climb atop cages like a squirrel climbs trees.
If you’re looking for a terrifying creature this Halloween season, don’t miss the tarantula. This hairy spider does not look friendly.
“I’ve really been working on improving the number of animals we have,” said Philip. “The next thing I’m going to work on is increasing the number of products we carry. I wanted to address the animals first.”
If snakes suit your fancy, a slithering ball python is available. It will grow to 5 to 6 feet in length. There’s also a blood python.
Fish are a popular pet store item and Pet World is swimming with community fish. New shipments of fish arrive every Wednesday.
“We can order up to a barracuda if you want,” said store employee Ben Coyle. “When it comes to fish, if you can think of it we can probably get it.”
Kittens are for sale for $8.99. Pet World only keeps four in stock at a time due to space limitations.
“People are constantly calling wanting us to take their kittens,” said Philip. He said Pet World makes sure the kittens are healthy and flea free before selling them for a nominal fee.
Editor’s Note: If more people would have their cats spayed or neutered, we wouldn’t be overrun with cats.
Ashley Vance is staying on board with her business, The Dog Grooming House. She has been with the pet store for years, dating all the way back to its days at Plaza Shopping Center.
To celebrate its new ownership, Pet World will be having a grand reopening on Saturday, Nov. 11. Party Animals will be on hand to commemorate the occasion with its mobile petting zoo. Philip says the animals on hand that day will include: camel, water buffalo, bison, kangaroo and porcupine.
Pet World is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It can be reached at 473-4913.
Is for sale
Anyone traveling Highway 8 atop Harrison Ferry Mountain has likely noticed the huge piles of milling located in the parking lot of the old Joyce’s Market. I had a reader email me to ask about those piles and the status of the market, which has been closed for two years.
Property owner and former store operator Joyce Rackley told me TDOT is currently paving atop the mountain and she agreed to let TDOT use her land for the milling piles. In exchange, TDOT will pave her parking lot when it’s done. That certainly seems like a fair deal to me.
As for the property, it’s currently for sale for $80,000. In addition to the store, it comes with 1.75 acres of land.
“It was a good store and if I wasn’t 75 years old, I’d still be up there,” said Joyce. “I did great while I was open. The store has a new roof and it’s a good, sturdy building.”
I’m sure residents who live atop the mountain would love to have a store open at that spot because there’s no other market in that area. Joyce was quick to say a Dollar General would do great in that spot and I’m sure it probably would.
If you’d like to buy the store or find out more information, Joyce can be reached at 686-2706.
That’s all folks
In the event there’s a reader somewhere out there who was saddened by the absence of this column in last Sunday’s paper, I have an excuse. I was enjoying the streets and landmarks of New York City with my family.
If you’ve never spent a week in New York City, I would highly recommend it. Prior to last year, the Clark family had spent most of our vacation time going to the beach. It was always fun, but it had become stale.
Last year we made the decision to spend a week in Las Vegas and it was a tremendous experience. This year we picked New York City, a trip I would rank slightly better.
We are currently canvasing the country for a potential vacation spot next year, good Lord willing. If you have a business tip, or a vacation destination, send me an email at email@example.com.