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SALUTE TO INDUSTRY 2020

A SPECIAL SECTION OF THE GREENEVILLE SUN AND GREENEVILLESUN.COM


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The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Meco ‘Here For 60 Years, Investing For 60 More’ BY CICELY BABB STAFF WRITER Millions of grills have been and continue to be made in Greeneville by Meco since the company first began making them in 1969. First established as Metals Engineering Company 10 years prior, Meco started as a metal-stamping company making television chassis for Magnavox and RCA. Today the company is known as an American manufacturer of grills and furniture, and the company also offers contract manufacturing services for other companies. Meco President Mark Proffitt said the company has seen continuous growth in all areas of Meco’s business increasing over the last decade, and that growth has not been inhibited by the COVID-19 pandemic. By contrast, Proffitt said, it may have driven some business to Meco. “Folks and their families have been impacted, and while they’ve been social distancing and staying home, they have sought alternative means of entertainment,” Proffitt said. “Some folks have turned to grilling in their backyard, and it’s sent some extra business our way.” Proffitt said the grill business has seen a major increase in recent years and in the past year particularly, but that level of growth was in the works prior to the pandemic-related boost. “This year we have effectively grown the grill business by four times, but that isn’t so much due to COVID,” Proffitt said. “We have seen a nice increase, but that will probably end up being a blip on the radar.” Before the pandemic, the trade war and frustrations with China was already leading additional American business to Meco as a U.S. manufacturer, Proffitt said, and that was only accelerated by the pandemic and related travel restrictions. “At the same time as we’ve seen more folks grilling outside, we’ve seen folks interested in no longer dealing with China,” Proffitt said. “While some places had to shut down because their customers were not working, we were actually doing more.” Proffitt said that growth is set to continue as the company invests in new equipment, including a new stamping press, and improvements to processes. “We’re investing in everything we do, really,” Proffitt said. “We’re investing in the people and the longevity in the company for the long haul. We’ve been here 60 years, and we’re investing for 60 more.” These investments help support the company’s establishing goal to provide employment in Greene County. “The company was created with the purpose to provide jobs,” Proffitt said. Robert C. Austin, Sr., an original stockholder who

SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

Maria Rodriguez waits for a freshly molded grill top to come to the end of the conveyor belt so that she can cut the edges away and bring the grill one step closer to becoming a finished product.

SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

Meco employees are hard at work assembling grills.

SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

Press operator Richard Beason uses a mechanical stamping press to form sheet metal into parts.

later became the primary owner of the company, was also a key leader in the local tobacco industry for decades through The Austin Company and saw a need in the community for jobs during the tobacco off-season. His son, Robert Austin Jr., said in 2014 at Meco’s 55-year anniversary celebration that the unemployment rate in Greene County was 17% when his father was growing up in the 1950s and that starting Meco was his attempt to bring much-needed year-round industrial employment. The company has grown from just 25 employees in its beginning and today

employs about 155 people, Proffitt said. According to a 1989 Greeneville Sun article, at that time Meco employed around 900 people. Employee numbers have fluctuated over the decades as business conditions have changed. Proffitt said the company remained in operation throughout stay-at-home orders as an essential business and did not have to lay off or furlough employees. Meco is currently hiring. “We’re currently recruiting for direct labor, press operators, maintenance and tooling technicians and engineers,” Proffitt said. “Every functional area is growing. If you have that

SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

Lori Bennett carries a grill lid at Meco.

skill, we probably need it.” Proffitt said jobs are added regularly and the company aims to add around 40-50 additional jobs over the coming months.

Generations of local families have worked at Meco, which Proffitt said speaks well of the company. “It’s hard not to encounter someone who

has worked here at some point,” Proffitt said. “These days we’re starting to see people whose parents and SEE MECO ON PAGE 3

What’s Inside Meco ‘Here For 60 Years, Investing For 60 More’ ........................................................... 2 GCP Modifies Industry And Manufacturing Celebrations ............................................... 3 American Calendar Keeps Up With The Times ............................................................... 4 Unique Greene County Business Enters 49th Year ......................................................... 6 Bossard Is ‘Behind The Scenes’ For Its Customers ........................................................ 10 TEVET Grows With The Community ............................................................................. 12 C & C Millwright Has Reputation And Experience Nationwide .................................... 14 Customer Service, Technology Help Artistic Printers Stay Competitive ....................... 15

Advertisers Index A Services Group ............................................................................................................. 12 American Greetings ......................................................................................................... 10 Chasan LLC ....................................................................................................................... 4 Consumer Credit Union ................................................................................................... 3 Eastman Credit Union ..................................................................................................... 16 Elwood Staffing ................................................................................................................ 15 Greene County Partnership ............................................................................................... 5 Greeneville Federal Bank ..................................................................................................9 Greeneville Light & Power ................................................................................................. 7 Greeneville Oil ...................................................................................................................8 Link Hills Country Club ....................................................................................................11 Lynn Hope Towing ............................................................................................................6 Parkway Products ............................................................................................................ 13 Red Wing Shoes of Johnson City .................................................................................... 15 Towne Square Package Store ............................................................................................ 5

On The Cover SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

Lori Bennett uses a riveting machine to assemble a bracket to the bowl of a barbecue grill, securing the parts with a rivet, at Meco.


GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

Page 3

GCP ModiďŹ es Industry And Manufacturing Celebrations BY CICELY BABB STAFF WRITER October is Manufacturing Month nationally, and in typical years, the Greene County Partnership would host its annual Industry Appreciation Reception during the month. Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, that event was called o for this year, but Partnership sta are still busy during

October with other events and initiatives, including a virtual job exchange. “We are trying to connect our local employers with potential employees,â€? said Joni Parker, general manager at the Partnership. The state’s Jobs4TN.gov website lists the local unemployment rate as 8.6%, but Greene County Partnership President Je Taylor said there are jobs available. The virtual event can be

found and joined via the Partnership’s Facebook page. “We are posting jobs every day as our industries, restaurants and retailers let us know,â€? Parker said. Those interested can search for employment or post available jobs. Options are posted for full-time, part-time and seasonal employment, and Partnership sta are available online to answer

questions. This is also the typical time of year, also in conjunction with National Manufacturing Month, for the Greene County Manufacturing Council’s “Made in Greene� traveling exhibit. The exhibit would visit each of the local high schools to showcase local manufacturing and the products that are made in Greene County with the goal of introducing students to these jobs and

company representatives. Due to COVID-19 safety concerns and protocols both at schools and manufacturing plants, that event is on hold, but discussions and planning for a virtual rendition of Made in Greene are in the works, Partnership sta said. The pandemic also impacted the Partnership’s annual Golf-Shoot-Out, one of the organization’s largest fundraisers, which is

in its 26th edition this year. It was held in conjunction with the reception last year at Link Hills Country Club. This year’s play-as-youcan Golf Shoot-Out began Sept. 24 and continues through Dec. 31. For more information about the Partnership or any of its initiatives, call 638-4111 or email chamber@greenecop.com or econdev@greenecop.com.

MECO CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2

grandparents worked here, and now they want to work here, too. This is a good place to work, and I think there’s a testament to that.â€? ProďŹƒtt also said that Meco was prepared to make changes to protocols and procedures due to the pandemic. The company now requires temperature checks and use of masks, has new procedures for visitors to the building, and conducts extra regular cleaning. “We were well prepared when COVID hit because we have been modifying our process and working on digital collaborative eorts all along due to growth,â€? ProďŹƒtt said. “We were well positioned, and I’m proud of the team.â€? ProďŹƒtt said he is proud of how Meco employees have faced the pandemic. “Probably the most impressive thing the company has encountered this year is how employees stepped up to the plate as COVID made its presence known in the states,â€? ProďŹƒtt said. “Our folks acknowledged it was kind of SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB This feed system leads to a stamping press, operated by Richard Beason. The feed system is used to unroll the coil of steel and straighten it so that the scary, but they were careful stamping press can do its job of forming the part. and diligent, focused on their families, work and on not putting others at risk. That’s what stood out most to me — how those guys really conducted themselves.â€? For more information on Meco, visit www.mecocorp. com.

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The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

American Calendar Keeps Up With The Times BY CICELY BABB STAFF WRITER As Greeneville’s oldest manufacturer, American Calendar has outlasted multiple pandemics before COVID-19, as well as two world wars and the Great Depression. Miles Kilday said this is one reason he and his brother Brandon, now co-owners of American Calendar, have told employees to remain positive amidst the current global health crisis. “This, too, we will overcome,” Kilday said. That message of positivity comes from a wealth of generational knowledge about the calendar business and the country’s oldest promotional calendar manufacturer from its earliest beginning in 1876 as the Brown Manufacturing Company. Brown Manufacturing produced Ramon’s Remedies patent medicines, which it promoted using Farmer’s almanac calendars. “They made the calendars here and they would give them to pharmacists to advertise the medicines,” Kilday said. “Over time things changed and that almanac calendar became more of a business opportunity, so they started making them for other businesses.” The Kilday family’s involvement with American Calendar began in the 1940s when John Hubert Kilday Jr. began working for the company as a bookkeeper following his military service. He worked his way up until 1966 when he purchased the company from the Brown family. The brothers now in charge of American Calendar purchased the company earlier this year from their father John Kilday III, who purchased it from his father Kilday Jr. in the late 1970s. Kilday III remains active with the company on a parttime basis. The company has been in continuous operation at its current location on Elm Street since the building was built in 1900. Miles Kilday, who oversees sales and marketing for the company, left a job with a pharmaceutical company to join his brother Brandon at the family business. Brandon has been with the company on the production side for over 10 years. Another Kilday brother, John Kilday IV, has also worked in the family business and helped expand its catalog until he started his own promotional product company Promomarket this year. The two companies function separately but work as partners. The name was changed in the 1930s, and Miles Kilday said that the company stuck with the almanac-style calendars until the 1960s. Kilday said that ability and willingness to evolve over time is part of the reason for American Calendar’s success and longevity. “The company has been around this long for a reason, and that is continually pushing the envelop and finding new ways to do things,” Kilday said. “You can’t just keep doing everything the same way. New technology allows us to do things we couldn’t before,

PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Brian Britt takes a closer look at the last print off the state of the art Fujifilm J-Press.

The catalog cover for the 2020 selling season features a photo taken just inside the door to American Calendar’s office of Miles Kilday atop his brother Brandon Kilday’s shoulders. Behind them is a blown-up version of an early almanac calendar advertising Ramon’s Remedies, and below the calendar the words “Reaching New Heights Together” allude to the double meaning of the brothers going into business together as well as the company’s partnership during a challenging year, Miles Kilday explained.

and we want to be at the front edge of that.” Kilday said his father pioneered American Calendar’s specialty of low-quantity customization, which helped the company continue to compete while the calendar industry has declined overall. “He really pushed that envelope and started allowing people to customize and personalize in quantities that smaller businesses could afford,” Kilday explained. Kilday III also imported the concept of the threemonth calendar after seeing them in Europe, where they were popular before they took off in America, Kilday said. “There are always niches within any market that continue to grow even though the larger market is contacting,” Kilday said. “Its critical that we identify those opportune and take steps to ensure that our company is positioned favorably for that market.” Kilday said this was a driving factor behind the

major investment this year in a new Fujifilm J-Press. The new press, which required temporary removal of a wall in the company’s more than 100-year-old building to bring in, allows the company to produce more customized, full-color calendars, with different images on each page, at a lower cost and in lower quantities. “You can tell your customer your name, or you can tell them your story,” Kilday said, quoting his brother and business partner. Kilday added that the best way to tell a story is through imagery and in color. “People are visual creatures by nature,” Kilday said. “Pictures and imagery are much more impactful and memorable.” The new J-Press is able to print on sheets up to 20 by 28 inches at a rate of 2,700 sheets per hour with a different image on each sheet. “In our first month with this new press, Brandon

A press operator in the 1900s oversees a print job on a press driven by a belt system.

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GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

Page 5

TIMES

PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Jerry Burger works on cutting a desk calendar, fresh off the press, down to its finished size with two months per sheet. Next, the pages will be collated, padded and cornered. In the background Jessica Belt and Erica Foster prepare for the next press run while the J-press finishes a job.

Kilday credits this to an optimism and hope for the next year. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 “When customers purand his team ran 300,000 chase calendar advertising, impressions,” Kilday said, they are investing in the adding that staff at Fujifilm following year and in the North America believe this future,” Kilday said. could be a world record “Right now in our factory for the press and are in the we have over 400 orders in process of verifying this. various stages of producThe press also supports tion, which is common for short-run custom packthis time of year,” Kilday aging, which Kilday said said. “Orders range from is another market that is 100 calendars to well over growing and likely to con10,000. We have one order tinue to grow. in production right now for Other reasons for promo- 40,000 large desk calentional calendars’ continued dars.” success while the overall American Calendar calendar business declines, produces more than Kilday said, is their utility 130 different products, as a planning tool and their mainly focused on busirole as a concrete gesture of ness-to-business advertisgoodwill. ing. Calendar options in“There is a different kind clude small and large desk of connection made when calendars, three-month, you hand a calendar to your year-at-a-glance, almanac customer,” Kilday said. and contractor calendars. “You aren’t just marketing The company also produc— you are providing value es full-color promotional in a personal way.” Kilday said the pandemic posters and offers an online has served as a reminder of program on its website the importance and value of for individuals to design their own fully customized personal interaction. calendar. Busy season at American Last year American Calendar typically lasts Calendar produced and from August to December with a peak in October, Kil- shipped more than 2.5 milday said, with 70% of orders lion calendars and various other products. being taken in the last four American Calendar months of the year. Kilday said he expected to employs about 42 people year round and up to about see a delay this year due to the pandemic, if businesses 65 during the busy season, Kilday said, and the comwere struggling financialpany is currently hiring for ly and continuing to cut seasonal positions. funding from promotions For more information and advertising, but it was about American Calendar, a pleasant surprise when orders started coming in as visit www.americancalenin previous years. dar.com.

The building that currently houses American Calendar was built in 1900. The company has been in continuous operation at its 101 Elm St. location since the Brown Manufacturing Company began work there after the building was finished.

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Page 6

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF

Perhaps one of the most unusual items in Roger Brown’s shop is this clock designed by Brown’s daughter. The hands rotate in a 10-foot diameter.

SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF

These two chairs built by Brown’s Heirlooms, are in the process of being finished with stain and laquer.

This set of hand planes belonged to Roger Brown’s grandfather. They now hang in his shop at Brown’s Heirlooms in Wood.

SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF

SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF

This mahogany Greene County Rocker features an ergonomic design and can be made in several kinds of wood, including mahogany, oak and maple. The Greeneville Moose Ear Rocker is an original creation of Brown’s Heirlooms.

Roger Brown shapes slender pieces of oak into subtly curved slats that will form the back of a Greene County Rocker. Brown takes 36 hours to craft each hand-made chair.

Unique Greene County Business Enters 49th Year BY LORELEI GOFF LIFESTYLES EDITOR “Well, welcome to God’s country!” Roger Brown’s warm welcome rang out heartily above the noise, a grin creasing the corners of his eyes above his industrial dust mask as he chicken-winged his right arm up and took a half step forward to give an elbow bump. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the bump would undoubtedly have been a firm and friendly handshake. “We’re in the boondocks out here,” he added. His reference to God’s country refers to more than the rural Southern Appalachian setting of one of Greene County’s most

unique industries. Climb the steps and walk through the doorway into the scent of freshly cut wood and the buzz, hum and whir of all manner of industrial woodworking machinery, and a long rectangular sign above the office door reads “We can’t even hammer without Him holding our hand.” A hammer hangs in the place of the word hammer and a casting of a hand reaches outward from the wood where the word hand would be. A sign below it reads, “I’ll retire tomorrow.” A look around the place reveals another sign that says “We’re working for a Jewish carpenter” and yet another reading “Welcome to God’s Country.” The

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signs aren’t necessary, though. It doesn’t take long before Brown tells a visitor that “The good Lord works here.” Even if he didn’t say it, Brown’s striking resemblance in character and demeanor to his oft mentioned friend makes his presence seem tangible. Like his friend, Brown is a carpenter. Brown’s Heirlooms in Wood, going into its 49th year of operation at the same location next to Brown’s home at 125 Brown Circle, specializes in custom-designed furniture, architectural millwork, church and memorial furnishings, antique restoration, and office SEE UNIQUE ON PAGE 7

SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF

This outdoor wet bar, made from butternut wood, features vintage spigots, room for a working sink and drawers and cupboards below.

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GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

Page 7

SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF

Roger Brown sits at the desk in his office at Brown’s Heirlooms. A photo of his restored Woody and Teardrop trailer is seen on his computer desktop in the background.

UNIQUE

family. “It’s just got a nice character to it, and it works CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6 beautifully,” he says. Although the varieties and custom cabinets in a of wood available haven’t variety of domestic and imported woods, according changed much over the to an official description of last 50 years, a recent the business. What Brown development in wood technology added a novel actually does is as much option to making outartistry as industry. Working in a many-hued door products. Thermally treated wood will last for and multi-grained palette of wood, Brown’s intimate possibly for up to 40 years, according to Brown. acquaintance with the “They microwave it,” trees he loves — God’s Brown explained. “I’ve had trees, he calls them — it in poplar and I’ve had it gives him the ability to in ash.” draw out their characters Ash, Brown points out, is with purpose and seasoned baseball bat material, hard craftsmanship. and nicely grained. Sometimes that means Called burned wood, the procuring new lumber. finished lumber is placed Often, it means working in a kiln and charred all with wood that comes the way through to colfrom items belonging to a client’s family, or salvaged lapse the individual cells rendering it dense and from historical buildings, resistant to decay. that may be as much as “We had a door go out 100 years old. just last week in burned Brown likes mahogany ash,” Brown said. “It’ll be because it’s durable and there a lifetime for that wormy chestnut, but his favorite wood is butternut, couple.” a member of the walnut

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS ogy from East Tennessee Both of Brown’s grandfathers work in wood on farms. His granddad Brown’s hand planes, now hanging on one wall of his shop, were used to make coffins, railroad ties and custom pieces back at the turn of the 20th century. After Brown started college, he decided to pursue industrial arts as a career. “They sent us to the city dump to pick up an old chair in the upholstering class, and we had to upholster that,” he explained. “When I got through with it, I had it in the back of my truck and I stopped at Greeneville Auto Trim when I came home. I said, ‘Ed, come out here and look at my chair. When do you want me to go to work?’ “He came out and looked and said, ‘Why don’t you come in in the morning?’ “So I worked at the trim shop for five or six years.” Brown Earned bachelor’s and master’s of arts degrees in industrial technol-

State University. He then taught industrial arts while plying his craft on the side. “I started this business when I was still teaching ninth-grade industrial arts,” said Brown, who began his product line with cradles, toys and primitive furniture. “Then I went to the central office in the city for two years and then went to Magnavox for two years, and still hobbying on furniture. It got out of control. I either had to get in it or get out of it. So I got in it.”

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Ben Brown, son of Roger Brown, cuts lumber for a table at Brown’s Heirlooms.

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Page 8

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

UNIQUE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7

GROWING Brown worked alone in the beginning but the number of his employees fluctuated over the years, peaking in the ’80s when his brother opened a retail store in Virginia near Washington, D.C. “I had over 10 employees back in the 80s and we were running trucks to Virginia,” said Brown. “That kept us busy. We were building things a dozen at a time. We were just mass producing in small quantities. It was just more than I wanted to fool with. Finally around the end of the ‘90s, I just wanted to slow down and get back into more custom stuff. I like it like this.” The company now has three employees: Brown, his son,Ben, and his wife, Sally. As of 2019 Brown’s Heirlooms in Wood produced more than 10,000 pieces for clients all over the country. All were made precisely to the customer’s specifications. A short list that gives a glimpse of the variety of finished custom designed products includes: work in a Frank Lloyd Wright design home in Tryon, North Carolina; a cherry table that seats 13; a desk chair customized for the customer’s height, weight and back support; castings for reproduction Victorian armoires for the Victoria’s Secret company; three miles of molding in a house in Limestone; restored woodwork on a 1935 Rolls Royce; a dining room table made out of a grand piano; the restoration of antique barber chairs and a parlor makeover to a barber shop theme; and the restoration of a 1946 Woody using four varieties of maple wood and taking 1,600 hours to complete that still ranks as one of Brown’s all-time favorite projects, along with the restoration of his own 1949 Woody and matching teardrop camper in mahogany and maple. Local projects have included building the cupolas for the Crescent School Building and the small chapel at Asbury United Methodist Church; castings for finish work in the Niswonger Foundation Building; the restoration of the piano Elton John played during a Live Aid concert for Kimberly Perry; restoration work on the president’s home at ETSU and the Dickson-Williams Mansion in Greeneville; guitar restoration for The Band Perry; restoration of a vintage boat in mahogany; and building a communion table designed by the late local artist Judith Plucker for Asbury United Methodist Church. Work hasn’t slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Remodeling is at an all time high,” Brown explained, noting that the cost for 2x4s has tripled due to demand. “People are at home. They’re seeing things that need to be done.” But though business is booming, the pandemic has

SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF

Roger Brown stands beside a recently restored 1935 Rolls Royce. It took 450 hours of work to complete the restoration of the wood on the car.

created challenges. “It’s a tough project dealing with the lumber supply today,” Brown said. “The lumber brokers normally will have a 30-day supply. Now they’re lucky if they’ve got a three-day supply. You can’t get things in. I talked to them yesterday about this other project we’ve got coming on. I got an estimate yesterday but the broker said, ‘Roger, I don’t know how long I can hold that estimate. It’ll go up here in two weeks.’”

NOTHING EASY HERE While not an easy way to work, he remains undaunted. Not much has been easy in his craft or in life for Brown, who will be 79 on Nov. 7. One of his favorite responses when asked if he can build difficult or complicated things is, “If it’s easy, it’s not in here.” Take for instance his signature Greene County Rocker. Each one takes 36 hours to build according SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF This one-of-a-kind wet bar on wheels, crafted in butternut wood, features two vintage soda fountain spigots from a Greeneville to strict specifications that ensure comfort and accom- pharmacy, metal wheels, and space for 16 bottles of wine. Designed for outdoor use, it will be fitted with a working sink. modate mobility challenges common to seniors. The chair features a deeply scooped seat, higher seat placement and the use of steam bent braces to eliminate rungs between the legs. The design allows for proper alignment of hand, knee and ankle when rising from the seat. The Chatanoogan Hotel purchased 10 for SUN PHOTO BY the lobby, which features LORELEI GOFF This items made in Tennessee. mahogaIt takes Brown a day just to ny table, complete the seat. which exAnother challenging projpands to ect was a casket made to 10 feet, look like a 1932 Roadster. It is among featured Ford headers welditems for ed to steel, Ford bumpers, sale at headlights, taillights and a Brown’s battery to run them. It was Heirbuilt with love and care, as looms. it was for one of his best friends. Also on that list are SEE UNIQUE ON PAGE 9

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The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

Page 9

UNIQUE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8

steering wheels made from maple wood and the curved hand rail at the steps of First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville. “The good Lord had to help us with that one because the architects said, ‘You cannot build that compound curve in one piece. It’s got to be built on site,’” Brown explained. “We got it built.” One of the most technologically involved pieces he has made is the Trinity Table. A woman called him saying she’d heard he could make tables. “I said, ‘Well, as of this year, we’ve made over 10,000 pieces and I know we’ve made over 2,000 tables. I think we can make you one.’” A specialized table designed to treat vertigo and many other issues, only a few were made before the designer passed away. Brown went with an engineer and an architect to view and dismantle one to figure out how to replicate it. Before that, Brown was given a ride on the table, which spins and tilts. “It’s pulled by hydraulics so you hear nothing,” he said. “I never felt it start and I never felt it stop. I rode that thing for 30 minutes and didn’t know I moved. It’s a therapeutic thing.” Brown and his son Ben built a replica, which included hydraulic motors and hoses running under the floor or through a channel to the boxed control mechanism. They plan some modifications for the next build. “You can tell the good Lord works here because some of this stuff is so technical that we’ve got to ask him to help out,” Brown said. Brown said he helped him through something tougher than a complicated carpentry job. In 1996, after finding a painless knot on his leg, he went to the doctor. The doctor ordered diagnostic tests and later called Brown at home. “He said, ‘Roger, sit down. Do you want to go to Atlanta or to Vanderbilt?’” Brown recalled. The lump was a liposarcoma. “They took a pound and a half out of this leg,” Brown said. “I went through experimental radiation. For the first three years, I went every three months to Vanderbilt. The next two years, I went every six months. The next four years, I went once a year. They released me after nine years. They studied this thing and said ‘Roger, it’s one in 10 million. You don’t know how rare this thing is.’ So I owe it to the man up there.” Then in 1998, Brown’s shop burned down. “There was a knock on the door about 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning,” he remembered. “I jumped up and looked out the window as I went to the door and I could see it. The fire trucks got in here but it was just too far gone.” Brown hadn’t been able

SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF

Roger Brown is seen here in his office at Brown’s Heirlooms in Wood, now in its 49th year of business.

SUN PHOTO BY LORELEI GOFF

After Roger Brown transformed a grand piano into a dining room table, he made the ivories and inner workings into a wall shelf.

to find a company to insure the open-layout, wooden shop. He didn’t have the means or the motivation to try to rebuild and took a job in Morristown selling woodworking machinery. “When I came home one day, Judge Thomas Hull was sitting out there on the front porch. He said, ‘Rog-

er, we’re going to put this back together.’” Brown was hesitant. The price of rebuilding would be high and he wasn’t sure he could start over in his 60s. Hull didn’t let it rest and eventually prevailed, providing a loan to start the construction. Brown feels indebted to Hull to this day.

And indebted to his good Lord. “I thank the good Lord for having a chance to do this for so long,” he said. “I wouldn’t get up at four in the morning to go do anything else, I don’t believe. I’ve been getting up at four to try to get some of this stuff out, and I farm after

that. I mowed last night until nine o’clock, then I went in and ate and got up again at four this morning. But that’s what’s keeping me going. With so many projects to complete, Brown says it sometimes feels like his shop holds him hostage. Still, he doesn’t seem to be

trying too hard to escape it. “I still enjoy it and the fire hasn’t gone out yet,” Brown said. “The family is wanting me to retire. Of course, I’ve got that sign up, ‘I’ll retire tomorrow.’ One day, I’m going to get up there and sign that thing and date it.” But it’s not likely that will be anytime soon.

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Page 10

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

Travis Gregory uses a forklift to prepare an order for John Deere. The order is being packed in reverse to save time when it arrives at its destination.

Bossard Is ‘Behind The Scenes’ For Its Customers BY CICELY BABB STAFF WRITER Bossard North America has been operating in Greene County for about 18 years, but those not involved in an industry, either with Bossard or another company that relies on it for parts, may not know what exactly goes on in the company’s local hub or that it provides integral components to a range of other companies around the world. Put simply Bossard is a fastener company, explained Harry Hicks, manager of the Swiss company’s local plant. Bossard specializes in elements used to fasten parts of a product together, such as nuts, screws, washers and pins. The company stores and distributes fastening elements, and the company also offers engineering services to help with customers’ blueprint ideas. “I hear all the time, ‘Oh, that’s what you do,’” said Hicks. Hicks described Bossard as operating behind the scenes for its customers. “From a baseball perspective, we’re like the umpire,” Hicks said. “If he has a good game, no one knows he’s there. We enjoy that role.” The company’s website describes it as a global network of companies that is among the market leaders in fastening technology in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. Bossard employs 2,500 in 80 locations. There are 14 employees at

SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

James Ward reviews the instructions for an order. At the end of the line, Michael Mullins is weighing boxes to check that the weight is correct for the right number and type of parts.

the local plant dealing with more than 50,000 different parts. The company’s North American headquarters are in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The location in Greeneville is strategic in relation to other Bossard plants and the company’s customers in North America. “We sell solutions, while also offering logistics along with research and development,” Bossard’s North American CEO Steen Hansen said in 2012 at a celebration of the compa-

ny’s $1.5 million expansion. Hicks said that Hansen put it well by saying that while Bossard doesn’t make products, the products cannot be built without the parts and services Bossard provides. In other words, without the ability to put parts together, the final product cannot be made. With 96,000 square feet of floor space, the hub on Industrial Road serves as a major warehouse distribution location for Bossard’s North American operations. The location was expanded

from its previous 48,000 square foot space at the same location. Bossard supplies fastening elements for a range of products including luxury electric cars, electric city buses and trains, Starbucks coffee machines and industrial fans that power motors used to open dome stadiums. It also recently began supplying fasteners to Tesla in California. Locally Bossard deals with John Deere, Parker-Hannifin, Worthington and Morristown-based Tuff

Torq, but Bossard ships worldwide from the hub on Industrial Road. Bossard is the global supplier to John Deere and other companies. Bossard also specializes in smart warehousing, through which orders are packed in a way that when they arrive at their destination, they are in the correct order as they are unloaded. Orders are packed by piece weight, Hicks said. “When orders come in the computer tells us what to get and where it is in the warehouse,” Hicks said.

“When we use the order picker to build the pallets, it picks our orders in reverse so when we get there it is all in order.” This saves time, and Hicks said that for many companies, it is well worthwhile to shave even just a little bit of time from a shipping or loading process. Hicks said this system is used in its shipments locally to John Deere and Parker-Hannifin five days each week. SEE BOSSARD ON PAGE 11

we make the world a more thoughtful & caring place every. single. day. SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

James McNutt watches as a box of parts are poured into a box and weighed by a machine for an order for Briggs & Stratton.


GreenevilleSun.com

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Page 11

BOSSARD

sets Bossard apart, Hicks said, adding that the comCONTINUED FROM PAGE 10 pany recently purchased stock in a European 3D “They’re always trying printing company. to fine-tune the processes, “We’re looking towards so if we can put two pieces the future, and the prestogether and save them sec- ident of the company is onds, it’s worth it,” Hicks already looking at 2025,” said. Hicks said. Hicks said while there Hicks and Derrick Murare also many checks and dock, who has been with the double checks conducted by company for as long as it employees, the computer has been operating locally, system is highly accurate said that the company has a and mistakes are rare. diverse culture and that all “The system is unbelievinvolved all the way to upable. If there is a mistake, per management get along. it will say who picked how “We don’t leave anyone much of what at what time,” Hicks said. “There’s always behind,” said Murdock. “We have a common goal to the human factor, but we succeed as a team and help normally don’t have too many mistakes. It’s a really other companies succeed.” For more information accurate system.” This focus on cutting edge about Bossard, visit www. bossard.com. technology is part of what SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

Bobby Glover explains the computer processes involved with taking orders, checking parts in to the warehouse and creating instructions for incoming and outgoing parts. There are over 50,000 different parts that go in and out of Bossard’s local hub.

SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

James Ward looks over instructions for an order before filling the appropriate number of boxes with the parts the customer has ordered.

SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

The change in coloring on the floor marks where the end of the building once was, before it was expanded in 2012. The Industrial Road location was expanded from 48,000 square feet to 96,000.

A

D

FIN EA D L

SUN PHOTO BY CICELY BABB

James Ward works on sorting parts that will be packed either to go on to a customer or stored in the warehouse. Michael Mullins weighs a box as Larry Hicks looks on.

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Page 12

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

SUN PHOTO BY KEN LITTLE

The new TEVET headquarters at 310 T. Elmer Cox Drive in the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park was ready for occupancy by October.

TEVET Grows With The Community TEVET resells and distributes electric test and measurement equipment. The initial business focus TEVET LLC continues was the distribution of test to prosper in challenging equipment, but TEVET extimes. panded its services and now The laboratory equipalso provides maintenance, ment supplier, founded by Greene County native Tracy repairs, operations assistance, chemical analysis Solomon, recently moved and lab supplies, along with into a new headquarters IT infrastructure. building at 310 T. Elmer “If you ever see a picture Cox Drive in the Mt. Pleasof a satellite or a military ant Industrial Park. As of plane (it has) many compoOctober, the company had nents,” Solomon said. “They 54 employees. need technicians to test all Solomon founded the privately owned tech firm in of the technology. We don’t make it yet, but we work 2004 with limited resources. With hard work, the help with some of the (largest) of employees who share his suppliers in the world.” The scope of the business vision and support from his will continue to expand, family, Solomon was able Solomon said. TEVET is to gradually expand and add clients that now include part of many cutting-edge some of the largest govern- projects tied to national defense, along with product ment contractors. development and mainThe list includes Locktenance. Projects include heed Martin Corp., Boeing Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Celis aerospace.

BY KEN LITTLE STAFF WRITER

fighter jet and GPS III satellite programs, Boeing’s Apache helicopter and the NASA Artemis spaceflight program, which has the stated goal of landing “the first woman and the next man” on the Moon by 2024. “How cool is that?” Solomon asked guests at a recent open house at company headquarters. His enthusiasm is shared by TEVET employees. “This space will become the catalyst for what is next for TEVET,” Solomon said. Commitment to military veterans is part of the company’s core philosophy. TEVET is now the leading service-disabled, veteran-owned small business in the aerospace and defense industry. The president and CEO of TEVET could have located anywhere in the nation, but

SUN PHOTO BY KEN LITTLE

TEVET President/CEO Tracy Solomon, center, was surprised to receive the prestigious National Veteran Small Business Coalition Gordon H. Mansfield Award Oct. 20 during an open house celebrating the opening of the new TEVET headquarters building on T. Elmer Cox Drive in the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park. At left is Scott Jensen, NVSBC executive director. Presenting the award at right is Earl Morgan, NVSBC program director.

SEE TEVET ON PAGE 13

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Tracy Solomon, president/CEO of TEVET, talks about his company’s new headquarters with guests in the foyer during an Oct. 20 open house and ribbon cutting held to mark the opening of the building, on T. Elmer Cox Drive in the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park.

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GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

Page 13

TEVET CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12

chose to base company operations in Greene County. TEVET had offices in Georgia and Texas before establishing its headquarters in Greeneville, and Solomon said the “all in” decision to create TEVET from a basement home office was a “leap of faith” that ultimately paid off. Solomon grew up on his family’s farm in the Cedar Creek community. His family has a generations-long history of military service. While still a high school student, Solomon joined the Civil Air Patrol. He enlisted in the Navy after graduation and became an aviation electronics technician. Solomon was also a selected member of the U.S. Navy Color Guard/ Honor Guard, which served at presidential, honorary and sporting events, along with veteran funeral services. After six years in the Navy, Solomon worked at two Fortune 500 companies. Following another family tradition — entrepreneurship — Solomon set his sights on solving the business needs of others with the founding of TEVET in 2004. As his company grew, Solomon made the recision to relocate to Greene County. “I left Greeneville to serve my country and I returned to serve my community,” Solomon said at the recent open house. After his return, Solomon became actively involved in the Holston United Methodist Home for Children, SteppenStone Children’s Services, Disabled American Veterans, the Greeneville High School ROTC program and other veterans organizations. He also supports the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, Main Street Greeneville and played a major role in renovation of the historic Capitol Theatre. By the end of 2021, TEVET will have made than $1 million in investments in nonprofit ventures benefitting the arts and other aspects of life in Greene County. Solomon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a Small Business Person of the Year for Tennessee. He had received many other honors, including recognition for his work with veterans. Solomon was recently awarded the prestigious 2020 Gordon H. Mansfield Award by the National Veteran Small Business Coalition, a nonprofit organization that advocates for veteran-owned small businesses. Solomon said business success is due to the support of his family and his team at TEVET. “It’s no longer work when you enjoy what you do and work in the community in which you serve,” he said. TEVET’s operational philosophy “starts with an internal family culture that strives to build and support each other and expands in service to our communities

SUN PHOTO BY DALE LONG

Tracy Solomon, in right foreground, does the ribbon-cutting honors Oct. 20 at a celebration to recognize the opening of the new TEVET headquarters building on T. Elmer Cox Drive in the Mt Pleasant Industrial Park. Solomon is company founder, president and CEO.

SUN PHOTO BY KEN LITTLE

Tracy Solomon, president/CEO of TEVET LLC, second from right, speaks with an employee working virtually from home in a conference room of the firm’s new headquarters in the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park. An open house and ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the new headquarters was held on Oct. 20.

SUN PHOTO BY KEN LITTLE

A spacious warehouse area was on display Oct 20 at an open house to celebrate the opening of the new TEVET headquarters building on T. Elmer Cox Drive in the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park. SUN PHOTO BY KEN LITTLE

The Daniel Boone High School Marine JROTC Color Guard formally presented the colors Oct. 20 at an open house celebrating the new TEVET headquarters building on T. Elmer Cox Drive in the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park.

and the communities of our customer,” according to a company profile. “Our products offer proven, next-generation solutions that benefit the entire supply chain – wrapped in TEVET’s exceptional customer service.” The COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed economic growth throughout East

Tennessee, but Solomon remains optimistic. He is used to overcoming challenges. “I continue to see the potential for hope for a better future here and we continue to press forward,” Solomon said. “What I see is the future of opportunities here.” For more information about the company, visit TEVET.com

SUN PHOTO BY DALE LONG

This fitness room is one of the many features of the new TEVET headquarters building at 310 T. Elmer Cox Drive in the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park. An open house was held Oct. 20 to celebrate the opening of the building, which was completely renovated after being vacant for almost 10 years.


Page 14

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

SUN PHOTO BY CAMERON JUDD

A major current project of C & C Millwright is construction of a large expansion at Greeneville’s Gateway car dealership.

C & C Millwright Has Reputation And Experience Nationwide BY CAMERON JUDD ASSISTANT EDITOR Greene Countians who travel as far away as Wisconsin or even California should not be overly surprised if they encounter a construction project going on with a C & C Millwright Maintenance Company sign posted in front of it. The company headquartered at 311 Old Knoxville Highway in Greeneville does most of its work locally and regionally, but sometimes ranges much farther, even across international borders into Mexico or Canada in times past. According to longtime Operations Manager Brenda Knight, such international travel and work is less frequent than it was

prior to the 9/11 attacks and subsequent concern about border security. C & C now works primarily within the United States. The versatile contractor can “do anything from pipework and electrical through anything involving concrete,” she said. The company’s online information notes: “We offer a broad spectrum of services whether it’s commercial construction, foundations, rigging, electrical and mechanical installation, crane service, heavy hauling and other general millwright services.” Elsewhere on the website, the company also adds project management, steel erection and HVAC to its menu of services. Services can be bundled or unbundled, depending

upon customer needs. C & C’s website pledges “attention to detail” and “teamwork” that allow for “flexibility” to meet individualized client situations. The company has built a national reputation, working in every state except Hawaii and Alaska, its website states. Founded in the early 1970s by Jimmy Jack Cansler and Jerry Chapman, whose surname initials account for the C & C in the company name, this construction and contractor company is currently involved in a highly visible local project, constructing a major expansion at a local automobile dealership at 1055 W. Andrew Johnson Highway. Since the groundbreaking last fall for Gateway

Ford Lincoln Nissan’s expansion, C & C crews have drastically changed the landscape at that dealership and are well along the way in adding what will become about 7,200 square feet in show-room/sales space, plus another 4,000 square feet of service area. Such large projects are common fare for C & C, but it also has handled many smaller construction/expansion projects, as well as such specialized tasks as placement of heavy equipment in local industries. Jerry Fortner has been president of C & C since 1996, when co-founder Cansler left the company presidency to become CEO. Cansler was known for using his and the company’s capabilities and resources toward local

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betterment efforts. These included building the soccer field park at Tusculum College, helping to develop the Tusculum View Park, emplacing the fire truck in front of the Greene County Museum, assisting with the Big Spring Project behind the library and giving for years to the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville and Greene County. One of Cansler’s personal interests outside his professional life was the legend of the “Swift Silver Mine,” which involves a purportedly rich silver mine dating back to the early days of America, but whose location was lost. Cansler once visited the offices of The Greeneville Sun to share information given him by a research-

er who believed the lost mine could be on Cansler property in western Greene County. Cansler, a Greene County native from the Midway community, died early in 2019. His business partner Chapman died many years earlier due to an automobile accident, Knight said. According to information in Cansler’s obituary, the company was founded in his garage, then moved to its current location, where it has been a hillside presence overlooking Greeneville for decades. About 100 people are employed by the company. Among its leadership personnel are Vice President Fred Blake, Senior Project Manager Kenny Rednour and Vice President of Construction Rick Greene.

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GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

Page 15

SUN PHOTO BY EUGENIA ESTES

Jeni Webb, customer service manager at Artistic Printers, stands with a large format printer the firm purchased a few years ago due to increased customer demand for signs and banners.

Customer Service, Technology Help Artistic Printers Keep Competitive Edge BY EUGENIA ESTES STAFF WRITER Providing excellent customer service and investing in the latest printing technology are primary facets of Artistic Printers’ business plan to remain competitive in an industry that has been impacted by online services in recent years. Artistic Printers provides a variety of services including short-run and long-run offset printing, high quality digital printing, graphic design, promotional items, signs, banners and a variety of other print pieces. “We are a small shop with big capabilities,” said Jeni Donahue, customer service manager for Artistic Printers. Part of that ability to provide a wide array of services and products is evident in the equipment found throughout the business’ shop on Snapps Ferry Road. “We reinvest in our business with acquiring top-of-the-line equipment — the latest software, and computers,” Donahue said. “We also upgraded with a SUN PHOTO BY EUGENIA ESTES Dustin Donahue, pressman at Artistic Printers, prints a project on a four-color offset printer. Currently, the firm does about half of its printing projects on the new digital printer, a 2020 model that has given us new printer and the remainder on digital printers. capabilities.” With the changing of the wide format printer that can were able to stay open as chines. The business uses The business now has Those capabilities include graduation ceremonies for produce those items, rather other businesses closed the latest versions of Macthree commercial prothe ability to now produce local students, printing as they were deemed an intosh computers with with than outsourcing, she said. duction digital printers in publications of up to 130 congratulatory signs for essential business by the The value of that investthe latest design programs addition to a four-color pages with flat binding, graduating seniors helped federal government due to ment was felt by Artistic and software. offset printer, two two-cola size of publication and Printers in the early months the services they provide for the business pay its bills Increased demand for or offset printers, binding binding that had to be outsuch entities as medical care of the coronavirus panequipment, and numbering, signs and banners led Arsourced previously by the facilities. folding and perforating ma- tistic Printers to purchase a demic. Printing companies business. SEE PRINTERS ON PAGE 16

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Page 16

The Greeneville Sun Salute to Industry Edition

GreenevilleSun.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Need a New Ride?

SUN PHOTO BY EUGENIA ESTES

This is the newest digital printer at Artistic Printers, which has given the firm capabilities to provide new printing and binding services to customers.

PRINTERS

needs and customize it to what you want. You are getCONTINUED FROM PAGE 15 ting a customized, finished product that is usually during April and May, said cheaper than online.” Printing firms with Artistic Printers co-owner internet based services are Lisa Webb. Artistic Printers’ biggest The canceling of events competitors, both said. continues to impact the The digital world has also firm due to the lack of debrought the most changes mand for printed promoto the printing business in tional materials, Donahue said. However, she said, the recent years. Webb said. There was a single digital pandemic brought other printer in the shop when types of business as inforWebb and her husband, mational pieces and signs Terry, purchased the busirelated to the measures ness in July 2011 from its to prevent the spread of founders Jerry and Wilma the coronavirus have been Sybrant, who started the printed for customers. business in 1968. The company has also At that point, 90% of seen increases in projects to design ads, graphics and the printing was done on the offset printer with 10% logos for customers to use for website or social media completed with the digital machine, Webb said. Howpromotions of their busiever, that ratio is now about ness or for a virtual event, 50-50 between digital and Donahue said. offset printing. This design work is an The digital printers have example of one way that also increased the speed Artistic Printers strives to at which printing jobs can remain competitive with be completed, allowing the internet-based printing firm to provide quick-turnservice companies, Webb around times for customers, said. “What sets us apart is our she said. Digital printing is not the customer service, which you cannot get online,” she only change for the business. Its staff has grown said. “If you come here, over the years, as well. we talk to you about your

After the Webbs purchased the business, it had two employees — Lisa Webb, who has worked in the printing business since she was 18, and a pressman. Now the business has six full-time employees and one part-time employee, who have a combined 90 years of experience in the printing business. Terry Webb, joined the business in 2012 after he retired with 38 years of service from the Greeneville Police Department. He handles bookkeeping, billing and other record keeping for the business. In addition to Lisa Webb, the graphic design staff includes Tanya Casteel and Bryan Ross. Dustin Donahue is pressman and operates the binding machines, maintains the equipment and assists with delivery. Part-time employee Larry Blalock helps with binding and makes deliveries. The Donahues are the Webbs’ daughter and sonin-law, but there is a family atmosphere among all the employees, Donahue said. “The other employees may not be blood relatives, but we are all family,” she said.

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Profile for The Greeneville Sun

Salute To Industry 2020  

This 32-page magazine combines three months of events and goings-on in Greeneville-Greene County, with photos taken Greeneville Sun staff of...

Salute To Industry 2020  

This 32-page magazine combines three months of events and goings-on in Greeneville-Greene County, with photos taken Greeneville Sun staff of...

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