Growth and longevity happen through several factors. The most important is often the people tapped to make it all work

Cookeville – “We have been blessed and fortunate to have great predecessors and great doctors in front of us,” Dr. Stephen Mullins admitted as friends, employees and county officials gathered to celebrate 100 years of Mullins Vision Associates (MVA) in Cookeville. “We just try to treat people fairly and enjoy the people we have as patients.”

Humbled and thankful, Dr. Mullins took a moment to explain to the Upper Cumberland Business Journal why, he believes, the business has lasted a century. It is really as simple as treating patients well, according to Mullins.

“It’s the golden rule, but sometimes things happen,” said Mullins. “If it works out best for the patient, it will work out best for us in the end. We try to do the best we can for everybody. I ask myself, what would I want for myself, my mom or my dad and then we treat people that way.”

How would MVA’s lineage, which includes four generations and two different father-son doctor teams including Mullins and his dad Mel, feel about the milestone and celebration?

“I think we would all hope to leave a legacy that 50 to 100 years from now is still being talked about and is still being successful,” said Mullins. There are a lot of familiar faces here and a lot of people we see in the community that I have known for a long time.”

Mullins was born and raised in Cookeville.

Celebrating a century – Mullin’s Vision staff poses with county officials prior to cutting the ribbon.

“It’s a neat experience to see that people want to come and celebrate our business,” he said.

Mullins acknowledges within the current economic climate nothing is certain, but he is optimistic about the future.

“No one can predict the future in this current economy,” he admitted, “but we have been very strong over the past few years.”

MVA has recently added doctors and grown the business.

“We opened an office in Sparta in 2020,” said Mullins. “We have a small office in Monterey. So, we have grown not just here, but other areas as well. With the way the Upper Cumberland area is growing, I like to think our future is bright.”

Growth and longevity happen through several factors. According to Mullins, the most important is often the people tapped to make it all work.

“I would never say that this is anything we have done,” said Mullins. “I often tell our staff they have more interactions with patients than I do. I see them when they come in the office and hopefully help them have a great experience, but the staff is invaluable.”

He said the most important part of the hiring process is on the front end when they are evaluating employees. Qualifications? Check. But, more importantly, can the person “be a part of our work family?”

“Our employees are there make or break,” said Mullins. “We have had some great long-term employees. I hope that says a lot about how we treat them.”

MV employs about 20 people throughout the three locations.

“Thank you all for the support,” said Mullins with a smile as he disappeared into the crowd, shaking hands and treating everyone there like family. A century is a lifetime. How does a business withstand the test of that time?

I guess it really is all about that golden rule.

UCBJ photos.

Ron Moses is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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