A UCBJ Special
Ovation 2016: EXCELLENCE IN PROFESSIONAL SERVICES: Honoring professionals who serve us well, from accountants and lawyers to plumbers and HVAC shops.
The recent Recession hit everybody hard. For Danny Lee, it certainly took a big chunk out of his workforce. But it also brought a renewed focus. He says his company, Cookeville Kitchen Sales, was able to better hone in on its custom cabinet line, which is now booming, and proudly boasts the tagline, “made in the UC.” Lee says they’ve become well known for their finishes – the vintage/antique/distressed look is especially popular – as more homeowners clamor for that rustic charm.
“We survived because we’re so diversified in what we do,” Lee said. “I’m also a reclaimed wood fanatic. I collect old lumber and logs, beams and hardwood, things like that, and we integrate a lot of that into our projects as well.”
The business, too, furnishes manufactured cabinets, ceramic tile and wood flooring – to accommodate all budgets – and can outfit everything from apartments to commercial projects like airport hangars, which it’s done for some top-name country music acts like Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley. Locally, a recent project included the custom-built bar at Rib City’s new Cookeville location, crafted from rustic lumber and tin.
And if that wasn’t enough, Cookeville Kitchen Sales also includes a wholesale division, Cookeville Countertops, which Lee took over in 2000. Its products are now found in nearly 40 home centers in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. That’s up from three centers just 16 years ago.
“I never thought it would be this size, never imagined it,” Lee said. “In 2008, we went from 40 employees down to 15; that’s how much it dropped off. If we didn’t have the wholesale business and a wide range of cabinetry, if we were just one-dimensional, I don’t know what would have happened. But we had enough to keep 15 of us fed. Now we’ve cautiously grown back to 28, and I’m really comfortable there.”
J. CUMBY CONSTRUCTION | PUTNAM COUNTY | 165 W. Broad St., Cookeville (931) 526-5158
Ten years have flown by “in the blink of an eye,” said Justin Cumby, who founded his firm, Cookeville-based J. Cumby Construction, a decade ago that. Today, the general contractor is at its highest employee level ever – staff is just under 90, and they’re “always looking for more,” he said. They’re experiencing good kinds of growing pain at the West Side office they’ve occupied since 2013 as there’s already been a few build-outs to make way for more space. And, as Cumby says, they’ve also got eyes on becoming one of the larger, premier firms in the Southeast.
“We’ve continued to stay extremely busy, and everything is picking up all the way around – commercial, industrial, the water/sewer/ municipal work we do,” he added. “We’ve been fortunate in that regard.”
While J. Cumby Construction has handled a number of visible projects in the region – Tenneco’s expansion in Smithville, Cookeville’s new Rib City, and more recently an expansion at Carlen Chevrolet – the firm’s seemingly found a bigger niche in municipal work. Roughly 70 percent of its projects are in water/sewer versus industrial and/or commercial. The company is also expanding its reach, adding jobs outside Tennessee, including Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama.
“We’ve definitely seen big success in that area for sure,” Cumby said. “Typically, the municipal work, the water and sewer, there are a lot of projects but not always in our own backyard. So we have to be willing to pursue those projects wherever they are. And the way we’re set up and with the guys that we have, it’s pretty easy for us to manage.”
WINELL LEE HARDWOODS | PUTNAM COUNTY | 510 W. Jackson Ave., Cookeville (931) 372-9663
The building sector is booming, and that means big business for Putnam County’s Winell Lee. For five generations, the company has outfitted the region – via manufactured product and a retail store – with stocked and custom hardwood.
Jeanie Lee, sales manager, said they’ve got a handful of unique, one-of-a-kind projects ongoing, in communities like Carthage and Byrdstown. They can provide siding, moulding, flooring, cabinetry, paneling, columns, porch posts, stairway systems, mantles – the sky’s the limit.
“We’re just reaching out more and more and doing some very unusual projects,” she said. “We can do such a variety of things in a variety of places.”
Cravens & Co. is more than just an investment firm. In fact, the company has grown its team by roughly a third – bringing on board an in-house attorney and soon, a CPA. That will help improve offerings on the planning side as it works with clients across the country.
“The investment component, while it’s very important to us and a big part of what we do every day, it is just one part of a larger relationship that we have with most of our clients, which focuses on planning, legal, a lot of different aspects of their financial and personal life,” said Wayne Cravens, president. “I think it happens to add a very strong element of quality to the recommendations that we are making.”
Cravens & Co. prides itself on its team approach – “we’re not a group of individuals that are all servicing our own clients,” Cravens said. “We have a team of people who work for our clients in a fiduciary capacity.” As an independent that’s an even bigger play. “We are employed by our clients,” he said.
With a 30th anniversary approaching in November, the company looks to grow alongside its home base in Cookeville.
“Cookeville is doing great right now,” Cravens said. “You look at our medical community, the entrepreneurs, real estate, manufacturing, it’s a very dynamic marketplace. And we focus on bringing something of added value to the table for those folks. I think we are in an extraordinarily exciting time.”
INSTITUTIONAL WHOLESALE COMPANY INC. | PUTNAM COUNTY | 535 Dry Valley Road, Cookeville (931) 537-4000
It all began in 1957, when IWC first opened its doors as a regional hometown food supplier. For more than 59 years now, the company’s tradition of quality, value and professional service has set the standard.
“I knew from the very (beginning) that you had to know your product, establish a relationship with your customers, be honest and trustworthy and somebody you can depend on,” said CEO Jimmie Mackie, who founded IWC with just one truck.
IWC, a family-owned business, offers a broad line of food products and cleaning supplies to a variety of professional kitchens, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, recreational centers, health care and government institutions. The company operates via a state-of-the- art distribution center in Algood – servicing customers with a fleet of trucks. For drive-up convenience, a sales counter is located at the facility for quick pick up. IWC also has a fully stocked “Cash and Carry” store in Cookeville on South Willow.
Both locations are open to the public with no membership or contract required.
SEE THE REST: Ovations 2016