By Pam Windsor
Making The Community A Better Place
Jimmy Dugger has spent nearly three decades helping people find the perfect home. He considers his work as a longtime Columbia realtor not just a job, but a way to change lives.
“I want to give people a place to go home to. And if you’ve got the right place, Mama’s happy, Daddy’s happy, and the kids are happy. And that’s all that matters to me.”
He’s a Maury County native who grew up in Culleoka. He began working full-time for Crye Leike Realtors in 1996 and has a reputation for doing whatever it takes to serve his clients. His track record speaks for itself; he's closed on more than 2100 homes. And while he’s an expert on Middle Tennessee, he’s familiar with the entire state with closings in 41 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.
He says the key to finding someone the right home is to listen to what they tell you.
“I ask a lot of questions. The first thing is minimum requirements. What are you looking for with bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and garage capacity? What’s your budget? I don’t want to show someone a house they can’t afford. And then, I ask about the geographic area. If you get down to those three basic questions, that gets you where you need to be in terms of inventory.”
It’s important, he says, for people to know ahead of time how much “house” they can afford.
“You need to go ahead and get a pre-approval letter, or if you're a cash buyer, be able to prove you have the cash available. This way, when we find the right property, we'll have the money in position, the inventory in position, and we can do the realtor stuff that makes us who we are. And that's the pixie dust of writing contracts."
Dugger has seen a lot of ebbs and flows through the years. He survived the housing market crash of 2008 and has watched, more recently, as the influx of people moving to Tennessee caused the market to explode.
Nashville’s rapid growth has trickled down to surrounding counties creating what he calls a “doughnut” effect. With Nashville in the middle, outlying counties have become the next “tier “or place to move.
“If you look at Nashville and the way it used to be, everybody went to Nashville to do their thing. Now the counties that surround it are the contiguous counties, the counties that touch, and the doughnut has become stronger than the hole. I’ve watched as the Williamson County's come down to us, and now, we’re “tier 2” on that because of people spreading out.”
He says Maury County is also feeling a push from the South.
“We’ve not only become tier 1 or tier 2 to Nashville, we’re tier 2 to Huntsville. If you look at the two ‘doughnuts’ as they come together, and the I-65 corridor that makes up the Nashville to Huntsville corridor, we're smack in the middle of that. We're growing like crazy because of it."
With housing in such high demand, finding a realtor you can trust is essential.
"I have a marketing degree from UT and an MBA from Belmont, but I also have 19 designations in regard to my profession. I’m a Certified Divorce Realtor, a Certified Residential Specialist, and I’m also a Senior Real Estate Specialist,” Duggar says. “So, with regard to what the Dugger team brings to the table, we’re not going to do anything wrong, anything unethical, or anything that hurts the client.”
He remains dedicated to serving both his clients and community. He’s been involved with many state and local organizations (many in a leadership position) and supports a number of charitable organizations.
“I want to make this town a better place to live. Maury County, Columbia, Middle Tennessee, America, this is my home. I'm going to make this community as good a place as I can make it – every day of my life."
By Pam Windsor
It’s been serving Maury County for years, although it changed its name a couple of years ago when it merged with other co-ops in Middle Tennessee. United Farm and Home Cooperative is a farm supply store and so much more.
“When you go in a lot of co-ops, they tend to be smaller buildings, and technically, they’re just small farm stores,” says Ryan Pilkinton, Location Manager. “But with this one, while we’re a farm supply first, we also have clothes, boots, footwear, a home décor section, a huge pet section with a self-serve dog wash, and an automotive section, as well.”
Co-ops are created to serve their members, but anyone can shop there. What this store does offer, especially for farmers, is not only an array of items but expertise, insight, and advice.
“I have very good employees who are very knowledgeable,” Pilkinton says, “and we pride ourselves on customer service. Some of them have been working 30 plus years, so they’ve been around, done a little bit, and seen a little bit of everything. And a lot of them have animals themselves. So, if you have questions about a product, they can tell you how to use it, when you need to use it, how much you need to use, and they’ll even tell you if you probably shouldn’t use it right now.”
Pilkinton grew up in Maury County and had a farming background. When it came time to pursue a career, he knew he wanted it to be farm related.
“I always wanted to do something in agriculture, so when I got out of high school, I started working for what was then Maury Farmers Co-op. I worked on the dock as a warehouse employee, loading feed and stuff like that, then I moved inside and did sales. And I continued working part-time when I started college.”
He stayed with the co-op, and in 2020, when they opened the new store, he was given the job as location manager. He’s seen some changes through the years, including a merger that brought different co-ops together. The list included Maury, Humphreys, Dickson, Marshall, and Williamson Farmers Co-ops.
“As I mentioned earlier, we were Maury Farmer’s Co-op, but in 2021 a group of us came together to make one co-op which is called United Farm and Home Co-op. And we now have 11 retail locations across Middle Tennessee.”
The move was designed to better serve co-op members.
“The bigger you are, the stronger you are,” Pilkinton says. “We’re able to take advantage of buying power, obviously. If you’re buying for one location, now you’re buying for 11 locations, so you tend to get a little bit of a better deal, and we can pass that on to farmers. It’s also made us stronger in terms of assets and equipment. We can share with each other.”
United Farm and Home Co-op sponsors many local events and organizations, such as Mule Day, the county fair, and sports teams. It’s a way to make sure some of the money spent locally stays local.
Pilkinton says he’s proud of his store, the community it serves, and all it offers.
“If you’ve never been in our store, I would highly recommend it. I promise you, it’s not what you’re thinking when you hear co-op. This is not like any other co-op.”
Your hometown building material (and more) supply store
By Jason Zasky
"The previous owner was ready to retire, and I was ready for a career change," says Lindsay Robinette about her decision to purchase Triple C Metals in January 2022 and then re-invent and build out that existing business.
"We've been rock' n rolling ever since," she adds before noting that MidTenn Supply sells a lot more than just metals. "We also sell lumber, rock, feed, flowers, mulch, and seasonal goods – basically any kind of building material you could ever need" – to both contractors and the general public.
Of course, Lindsay Robinette and her husband are no strangers to the local business community. In fact, Justin Robinette owns and operates a handful of other companies in the Mount Pleasant/Columbia area — including Robinette Trucking and Digital Trigger Technologies — all of which can be found within a two-mile radius.
"Justin is thinking of new stuff to do all the time. He cannot sit still," quips Lindsay. "We enjoy doing a little bit of everything, including flipping houses and remodeling and stuff like that."
But she says she especially enjoys coming to work at MidTenn Supply, where she stays busy alongside upwards of a dozen employees — not to mention other family members — on any given day.
"I love our customers, who are so kind and genuine," she says, calling them "the best customers in the world."
Predictably, metal roofing, metal siding, and lumber are the company's best-selling products, with MidTenn Supply filling orders for customers statewide and into northern Alabama and southern Kentucky.
The business also takes pride in sourcing its materials locally.
"About fifty percent of our lumber is local, and the other half comes from northern Alabama. Most of our metals come from southern Kentucky, with our rebar and angle iron coming from Pulaski. And our feed comes from a supplier that has a plant in LaVergne and Red Boiling Springs," says Robinette.
Meanwhile, MidTenn Supply also sells plants that come from Thompson's Station, as well as local honey.
"Right now, we are fixing to add a line of soaps that are made out of goat's milk," she says — soaps that are produced by a local lady who also happens to be a MidTenn Supply customer.
"We're local and small town," emphasizes Robinette, a Spring Hill native who calls herself the face of the business.
"I am in here every single day, and if you come in, there is a good chance you are going to see me or my husband," she adds, her hubby being a Mount Pleasant native.
There's also the possibility of encountering one of the couple's two children or Robinette's parents or mother-in-law, all of whom chip in to help at various times.
"It's giving our kids something to work towards growing up," says Robinette, who insists both are well on their way to emulating the work ethic of their parents.
"They want to come in and work. Right now, they are sweeping floors and just learning the value of the dollar," she says, not to maintain the value of taking pride in one's work.
"Everything that people see here we have hand-touched. This is a labor of love — the whole business," she notes, marveling at how much it has grown since MidTenn Supply formally came into existence in January of last year.
"We're content where we're at," she concludes, though never satisfied, as Robinette and her employees always work to live up to the company's motto: Reliable hometown quality.
Since 1993, Southern Electric of TN has been the go-to electric contractor for Giles, Marshall, and Lawrence counties. But since early 2021, the locally-owned company has been under new ownership, with the founder's daughter Tracy Bryan and three longtime employees purchasing the business and extending the service area into Maury, Williamson, and the surrounding areas.
"A lot of cities like Pulaski and Hohenwald don't have electricians," says office manager and co-owner Jaime Gore, explaining why the company has long done business in Giles and Lewis counties. "But we've branched out, and we now go as far as Dickson, Murfreesboro, and Mount Juliet," not to mention the likes of Franklin and Brentwood.
As to the type of calls received, it's a lot of what you'd expect from electricians that focus on residential and light commercial work.
"We get a lot of calls about outlets and switches not working. We also change out a lot of light fixtures and electrical panels and install a lot of chandeliers and ceiling fans," says Gore, whose husband George is another co-owner, as is lead residential technician Robert Adair. "We also do a lot of remodels and new construction," she adds.
That said, spring is a great time for homeowners to make improvements to outdoor living space, with deck lighting, dedicated pool or spa circuits, and motion detection security lighting among the most commonly-requested upgrades. Southern Electric can also help with generator installation and maintenance, not to mention parking lot lighting and storage unit lighting.
Of course, it's always a good time to be thinking about safety.
"If breakers are tripping, that needs to be checked. If outlets are loose or outlets/switches are hot to the touch, those need to be looked at," says Gore before reminding of the importance of equipping your home with properly installed, hardwired carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors.
The four co-owners and all the electricians employed by Southern Electric want to help.
"We like working with people. If customers need help, we are willing to work with them," says Gore, before noting that Southern Electric offers financing plans, as well as discounts for teachers, senior citizens, veterans, firemen, and police officers.
Southern Electric also maintains ties with the community, sponsoring teams at local schools and sponsoring the annual golf tournament of the Tennessee Children's Home.
It's all in keeping with the family-oriented atmosphere at the company, not to mention the vibe of the company's hometown.
"I love the family atmosphere and the fact that there are so many local and family businesses in Spring Hill. It's also nice being in close proximity to everything you might need," offers Gore, who says she looks forward to the continued growth of Middle Tennessee counties in the coming years.
"We would like to see the business grow further," she concludes. "We want to be everyone's go-to electrical contractor."
For more info visit www.callsouthernelectrictoday.com
Hal Landers has owned and operated Landers Insurance Agency since 2002, so he has seen a lot of change in Columbia over the past two decades. But what hasn’t changed is his agency’s commitment to providing great service to clients.
“We have the words ‘Great Rates, Great Service’ on our business cards and our billboards,” begins Landers. “We have found that by offering a great product and attaching that to great service, that’s a satisfied customer.”
Specifically, Landers and his team of seven focus on providing what he refers to as “personal touch service,” which is a rarity in today’s world.
“If you call us, someone is going to answer the phone immediately. If you need to discuss your coverage, or need a new policy, someone here is going to take the time to ask you questions, listen to your needs, and help you buy the product that fits your needs and your budget. We are not here to just sell you a policy,” he emphasizes. “And if you have a claim, we have an in-office claims manager to help maneuver you through it.”
As to products, Hal Landers Insurance is a multi-line agency that writes auto, homeowners, life, and business policies. In short, they can help anyone from the day they start driving through the end of life.
“Auto and home — which is also called personal line insurance — is our bread and butter,” says Landers, but life and business insurance are as important as ever.
“A big thing now in business insurance is cyber liability and data breach liability. That’s a big concern for business. And life insurance, I hope that is on everybody’s mind, especially in light of the pandemic.”
That said, Landers has a handful of recommendations for clients and potential customers, one of which is to do an annual review of your coverages and needs.
“There’s a lot to look out on the auto side,” he begins, with electric vehicles and ridesharing programs already common and driverless vehicles likely to change the landscape significantly in the coming years.
“And on the homeowner’s side, home values have increased. You need to look at the value of your home — is that properly covered?” he adds, before turning to the topic of bundling.
“People should also be taking advantage of as many discounts as they can. If you can put your home and auto together or home, auto, and life together, that gives you a multi-policy discount. Also, pay an annual premium if you can because there are usually annual discounts,” he advises.
Insurance specifics aside, Landers says he loves living and working in Columbia, which helps explain why he chose to open his own independent agency there after spending the first three years of his career working in Williamson County.
“Number one, I love the people. I have lived here my entire life,” he begins. “You have that small town feel where you know everybody, and you can walk down the street, and everybody knows your name. The reason I wanted my business here is to be able to continue to work with the people in this community.”
That said, he believes Columbia has done a good job of maintaining its personality, even as it has seen an influx of people from outside Maury County.
“You’ve got a lot of people moving here because they like the value of what they get, and they like the small-town feel,” he explains, before noting that Columbia’s growth is helping the agency grow.
“Most of our clients come to us by referral. We advertise around town, but the best way to advertise is taking great care of your clients. With the amount of competition in selecting an insurance agency, we could not survive for 20 years without providing great rates and great service,” he says.
As for the agency’s future, Landers is confident that its best days are yet to come.
“We are going to continue to grow and continue to provide the best service we can. I don’t see Landers Insurance Agency slowing down,” he concludes. “We’ve lasted for two decades, and I see us remaining a part of this community for decades to come.”
The team at Mid TN Fence can tell you business is booming in the fencing industry. It’s a trend seen nationwide. Some of it stems from increased housing construction and a growing desire by people for more privacy and security.
Since opening a little less than three years ago, the Columbia-based company has installed fencing all over Middle Tennessee.
“We started in 2020, right in the middle of COVID,” says Ashley Robinson. “And we’ve consistently grown. We had a vision for starting a company where we offer great customer service and tackle jobs in a timely manner.”
The company is owned by Kenneth Poag. Robinson handles administration and runs the office, Ryan Springer (who has extensive experience in the industry) handles sales, and a dedicated crew installs the fencing.
“A customer will call,” Robinson says, “and let me know what they’re thinking. I’ll send Ryan out to meet with them, and he’ll walk through and measure off the linear footage they need. Sometimes they know what they want right off the bat, whether it’s wood privacy fencing or vinyl, aluminum, three-board, or four-board. And if they don’t know, Ryan offers suggestions on what works best.”
Although they handle both commercial and residential fencing, Robinson says most of their work is residential.
“Many of the calls we get involve people wanting to keep their kids or pets in or other creatures out. They may want a privacy fence or a chain link fence, something their dogs can’t poke their heads through.”
The goal is to help customers determine the best fencing to meet their needs and make them aware of some of the factors involved.
“For example, maintenance is a factor,” Robinson explains. “When it comes to a wood privacy fence, it’s going to require more upkeep. In six months, you’re going to want to stain, treat, or paint it, and then you have to keep up with it. A lower maintenance fence would be aluminum or vinyl.”
For those considering adding fencing, Robinson suggests knowing your property lines beforehand. It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to know where fencing can and cannot go. Another thing to think about is how many gates you think you’ll need.
“How many gates do you want, and what are the needs for the gates? Is a vehicle going to be driving through it, or is it just a walk-through gate?
With the cost of fencing materials going up in recent years, once customers get an estimate, they’ll need to make a decision rather quickly.
“Pre-COVID, Ryan could give an estimate and say we’re going to honor this for 30 days,” Robinson explains. “You would have 30 days to think about it. But in today’s world, we can only allow five days because our prices fluctuate so much.”
Once a customer decides, Robinson locks in the price by ordering the materials immediately.
Craig and Ethan Eilermann
Father and Son Operate Their Own Thriving Small Businesses in the Heart of Columbia
By Jason Zasky
More than two decades ago, Craig Eilermann opened a souvenir shop turned flag store on Broadway & 3rd in downtown Nashville, where he employed his son, Ethan. Today, father and son both own businesses in Columbia, with Craig still operating Flag World, and Ethan and his wife Anna the co-owners of Ollie & Finn’s Counter, a sandwich shop located in the Columbia Arts Building.
“Our menu features unique and irreverent sandwich concoctions,” explains Ethan, citing the ‘American Werewolf in Columbia’ sandwich as a representative example. “It’s a roast beef sandwich with smoked gouda cheese, and our house-made collard greens and our house-made slaw,” he elaborates, before noting that the shop also does “little tweaks and takes” on classic sandwiches and sells homemade soups.
Ollie & Finn’s, named after the couple’s two dogs, opened in January of 2022 and has been thriving from the get-go, with Ethan crediting his father for teaching him everything from work ethic to customer service to the importance of asking for advice whenever needed.
Meanwhile, Flag World (found at 32 Public Square) offers an impressive and diverse array of flags, pins, and patches.
“I have over 4,000 flags in stock. We carry the U.S. flag and the state flag of Tennessee in all sizes. We also have all the international flags and every state flag, as well as decorative porch flags, garden flags, and mailbox covers, plus wind items like kites and outdoor spinners for yards,” explains Craig.
“We also sell many different military flags and have over three-thousand military lapel pins and more than a thousand different military patches,” he adds.
Flag World also does a brisk business in custom flags, which it creates for businesses, churches, schools, and local government. It also sells and installs flagpoles for businesses and individuals alike, having done installations throughout Middle Tennessee and as far away as southern Kentucky and northern Mississippi.
“It takes two trips to the site,” says Craig about the process of installing a flagpole. “First you dig the hole and set the ground sleeve in concrete. Then you come back out and assemble and launch the pole,” he adds, before noting that he has installed flag poles that are 40, 50, and up to 80 feet tall.
Both Craig and Ethan say they are enjoying living and working in Columbia, having both previously lived in Franklin.
“I love living in Columbia because you feel like you are out in the country. I like the fact that I’m not in Nashville automobile traffic anymore,” says Craig with a laugh.
“We love Columbia,” chimes in Ethan. “We have been here almost five years, and we love its growth and how it’s developing,” he adds, speaking on behalf of himself and his wife and five-year-old daughter, as it’s not just a great place to raise a family but a great place to do business.
“You have other like-minded people and other small business owners that are trying to be supportive of what you are doing. That community has embraced us, and we try to embrace them and keep that small business dream alive,” he concludes. “Even direct competitors are friendly here. Everybody tries to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. That’s what makes Columbia the ideal spot to take a mom & pop family business and see what you can do with it.”
Flag World is located at 32 Public Square in Columbia, and Ollie & Finn’s Counter is at 307 W. 11th St. in Columbia. See their ads on page ?? for more info.
32 Public Square
Ollie & Finn’s Counter
307 W. 11th St.
Powell Ledbetter has lived in Columbia all his life but has seen quite a bit of America. He and his wife, Kim, own VIP Moving & Storage of Tennessee. It's a family business that's been moving people all over the country for the past 90 years.
"My grandfather, Marshall Ledbetter Sr, founded the business in 1932, and it's been right here on West 12th Street ever since."
While it's always been at the same location, some changes have occurred through the years.
"It started out as a small moving company," Ledbetter explains. "Actually, my grandfather was one of the largest North American Van Line agents in the country. And when he passed away, my dad wanted to scale it back, make it more manageable, and offer a personal-type service. Today, we've taken the best of everything, and I think we've got it figured out."
Ledbetter and his staff, which includes Kim and four longtime trusted employees, handle moves from anywhere in one part of the country to another. They transport household goods anywhere in America, using their newly expanded warehouse in Columbia for storage when needed. Every move starts with a personal approach that continues throughout the entire process.
"Kim runs the office, and she does all of our estimates," says Ledbetter. "For example, we've had a lot of people moving from the West Coast, so for those, she'll fly out, do the estimate, then come back. That way, she gets to see the actual shipment. And when we give someone an estimate, it's guaranteed, it won't be a dollar more."
When it comes to the actual move, the same core group follows it through from beginning to end.
"We pack, load, transport, and deliver," Ledbetter says. "The same people that come in and pack you will be the same crew that loads you. I'm going to be your driver to wherever the destination is, and I'll generally fly one or two of my guys out to where we're delivering, so they'll be there to help. This way, there's consistency. You don't have four people come in and pack up, then have a different crew at the destination where nobody knows how to put anything together because they weren't there when it was taken apart."
VIP Moving & Storage has built a strong reputation, mostly through word-of-mouth. Ledbetter says his goal is not to just relocate people once but to move those same families again and again.
There have been many repeat customers, chief among them – the Tennessee Titans. Ledbetter's family formed a relationship with the team over two decades ago.
"We actually moved them here from Houston in 2000, my dad and his company, when he was alive. I drove a truck at the time and moved Coach Fisher and some of the executives here."
Things went so well, Ledbetter has since moved some of those same people to other locations, and currently transports the Titan's game day equipment when they play in other cities.
There's a lot of pride, as well as responsibility, in running a family business, especially one in its third generation. Powell, who began working as an 8-year-old kid with a broom in the warehouse 50 years ago, wouldn't have it any other way.
"I enjoy it. I like working; I like the physical part of it. You're only as good as your last move, and I want to be the best we can be every time we pull up."
Dr. D. Carl Jackson and the Spring Hill Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery team have been serving Middle Tennessee since the practice opened in 2009. They were the first full-time oral surgery office dedicated exclusively to serving the greater Spring Hill community. Since that time, the practice has grown to become one of the premier oral surgery offices in Middle Tennessee. First and foremost, Dr. Jackson and his team aim to create a comfortable and relaxing experience for patients. With that goal in mind, they opened a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility in Spring Hill in April of 2020. Every aspect is designed to offer a comfortable, serene atmosphere for patients.
“We wanted to design our practice and our building with a patient’s individual concerns at the foremost,” said Jackson. “We have a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere where friendliness is first. The atmosphere is a step above in every way. We want to cater to every aspect of a patient’s needs from their physical well-being to their emotional well-being.” Jackson and his team specialize in caring for patients who experience dental anxiety. The friendly, welcoming team and accommodating design of the office help patients feel at ease from the moment they walk in the door.
“We have patients who experience a variety of levels of dental phobia,” Jackson said. “We want them to feel that everything is going to be all right when they entrust us to take care of their oral surgery needs. At our office, we will give them the high-level experience that they deserve.”
The Spring Hill Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery team has the expertise and Tennessee State licensure to safely administer general anesthesia in their facility. Procedures are performed while the patient is in a totally relaxed state.
“My motto is, we don’t begin your procedure until you are snoozing!” Jackson said. “To you, it may seem like the procedure has only taken a few seconds. We strive for our patients to wake up completely comfortable, having experienced no anxiety or pain.”
Spring Hill Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery is a full-scope oral surgery practice that provides a variety of services, including wisdom tooth removal, dental implants, and dental and facial surgery. They conduct wisdom tooth removal procedures daily, with thousands conducted over the years.
“Wisdom teeth have a bad reputation. They once served a purpose, but through human evolution, as our diet has become more refined with more processed foods, they are no longer necessary and can actually cause tooth or jawbone disruption if left untreated,” said Jackson. “We recommend early extraction to avoid any of these complications. Many people put these procedures off out of fear or anxiety. With us, there is no need to have anxiety as we are going to ensure your comfortability every step of the way.”
Procedures such as dental implants can be life-changing for patients. Jackson and his team implement the most advanced technology available to offer a solution that was previously unimaginable.
“Dental implants are an excellent teeth replacement option,” said Jackson. “We see life-changing cases. The implants are permanent like natural teeth. They allow patients to brush and eat foods such as apples and corn on the cob. They are a wonderful solution that can also help to preserve bone.”
Jackson and his team are committed to patient care and the community. Jackson was recently appointed to serve on the board of the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce. He and his team have participated in “Free Dental Day” in Pulaski, TN. Most recently, Jackson signed on as a provider for Duck River Dental Outreach, an organization that provides comprehensive oral care in Columbia for those in need.
“When patients come in, we know their names. We have a wonderful staff who really knows each patient,” said Jackson. “We are honored that patients entrust us with their care. We are part of the community, and we want everyone to feel at home here with us.”
Jackson is certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS), the only ADA recognized board for the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery in the U.S. The ABOMS certification process assures that certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons have successfully completed a rigorous peer evaluation process and are committed to lifelong learning, keeping current in knowledge and skills, and practicing in a safe and contemporary manner. Board-certified doctors are recognized as having achieved and continuing to maintain the highest standards within their profession.
Jackson is also a Veteran. He served at the rank of Captain in the United States Air Force Reserve for ten years. “We pride ourselves on being able to take care of most issues that come into our doors,” said Jackson. “If you are in the Middle Tennessee area, we can care for you. Our patient experience is a notch above any other and that is why we have become heralded as one of the premier oral surgery practices in the area.
We do not take that lightly. We want to continue to build on that and instill our trust and confidence in the community.”
“Our motto is Eat, Play, Party.” So says Derek Ransom, co-owner of Tenn Pin Alley on Mooresville Pike in Columbia, where there’s no shortage of ways to do all three. Attractions at the 67,000-square-foot family entertainment center include 32 bowling lanes, bumper cars, laser tag, and an arcade with more than 50 games. Then there’s Max’s Café, which offers a full bar and a menu that features burgers, pizza, nachos, salads, and wings, as well as a wide variety of vegetarian and healthy options. All the attractions are housed in a newly remodeled facility that, in a previous life, served as both a bowling center and a manufacturing space. “When my wife and I bought (the facility), we remodeled the bowling part, then added the attractions and tied the two spaces together to make it a family entertainment complex,” explains Ransom, who says bowling has been part of his family’s life as long as he can remember. In fact, he bowled in his first league when he was eight years old. As for the decision to open Tenn Pin Alley in 2017, that was based on a perceived gap in the marketplace. “(Brandee) and I both grew up here, and we have five kids. Looking for things to do, we saw a need for family entertainment. With the growth of Columbia, it was the perfect mix,” he adds, before noting that he’s expecting to open several new attractions at Tenn Pin Alley in the next year or two. “There are still 12,000 square feet inside that we can grow into, and the next step for us is looking to add an outdoor attraction Right now, mini-golf is in the lead in terms of possibilities,” he says, hoping to have a course open on the property’s 7.5 acres in the spring. Meanwhile, bowling remains a big part of the fun, as Tenn Pin Alley hosts leagues and tournaments, in addition to recreational bowling. Patrons can also take bowling lessons. “We have four certified coaches, including the Pro Shop operator,” explains Ransom. “There’s also a college coach in-house who coaches the team at UT-Southern.” As for the future, Tenn Pin Alley hopes to continue to develop in conjunction with Columbia, “which is becoming more of a destination for people to come and shop and be entertained,” notes Ransom, pointing to the revitalization of downtown. “The town itself is kind of hip and cool now, and with the new retail shops coming in, it’s just going to continue to grow.” With that in mind, Tenn Pin Alley hopes to host more and more events, though it already does a brisk business hosting birthday parties and holiday parties. “We want to keep growing our corporate events and make it a destination where businesses rent out the facility and have team-building events and company parties,” says Ransom. At the same time, Tenn Pin Alley expects to continue to support the local community in various ways, partnering with the Special Olympics and Bowl for Kids’ Sake, while offering a Kids Bowl Free program that runs throughout the summer. Also, the business is always looking to hire local talent to help keep the party going. “We keep trying to create an environment where people want to come back and spread the word (about us),” says Ransom. At the same time, he and his wife hope that Columbia retains its hometown feel well into the future. “It’s a great town, but it hasn’t gotten too big. We just want to continue to grow with it,” Ransom says. It seems Tenn Pin Alley is already well on its way, considering that “2021 is going to be a record year for us,” concludes Ransom. “We want everyone to eat, play, and party with us. We sell fun here, and we want everybody to have a good time.”
“The day I was born, my parents were outside landscaping their first house, and my mom’s water broke while they were digging in the dirt,” says Jason Daughrity, 43, founder of Bear Creek Landscapes & Design in Columbia. So “it’s kind of like it was destined” that he would one day own a landscaping and design business.
Daughrity started on that path early. When he was 10 years old, he was mowing neighbor’s yards with a push mower, and when he was in junior high school, he was employing friends to help him mow lawns. Then, by the time he was in high school at Columbia Academy, he and his brother were making an annual income befitting a successful college graduate. Nor did he stop working while getting his business/finance degree at Middle Tennessee State University.
Fast forward to today, and his landscaping and design business—located across from Spring Hill High School on Cayer Lane in Columbia—has nearly 30 employees, including three full-time estimators, multiple landscape designers, and a horticulturist who has been working alongside him for the past 18 years.
“We do full-on residential and commercial design work,” explains Daughrity, handling everything from installation of lawns and irrigation systems to designing swimming pools and installation of outdoor fireplaces and outdoor lighting. “Our wheelhouse is to take a property from nothing, especially new construction, or taking an older home and installing everything from start to finish,” he adds.
Then the company typically goes on to maintain everything it installed, offering a landscape maintenance plan or lawn & landscape maintenance plan for a monthly fee. “We will mow a lawn every week and keep it treated, aerated, and seeded. We weed five times a year and trim three times a year, and whether it’s residential or commercial, you get one to two mulches per year.”
According to Daughrity, business is better than ever, noting that the pandemic world has been very good to construction, landscaping, and pool companies.
“People aren’t traveling; they are staying at home and putting money into their backyards,” he notes, the Daughrity family being no exception, having recently installed their own swimming pool. Daughrity says the company does work all over the Nashville metropolitan area, but the vast majority of the business is in Nashville and Brentwood, with Columbia, Spring Hill, Franklin, and other nearby communities making up a sizeable share of the accounts.
“We have a huge foothold in the music business,” he adds, ranging from recording studios in East Nashville to the estates of star recording artists in Leiper’s Fork. As for getting started with Bear Creek Landscaping & Design, Daughrity says the process begins with getting a free estimate.
“I’m still a little bit old-school, as I’m the one that comes out and does the free consultation,” he says, having already noted that his passion is on the design side of the business. Typically, estimates are broken out into different parts, where the front landscaping might be one part, trees another, and irrigation a third part. “I tell people the estimate is a starting point. I never like to know the budget or how much someone is wanting to spend. I like to know what they are wanting,” he explains. “Then we can upsize, we can downsize, we can prioritize within the budget and pretty much always come around to giving you the majority of what you want for the price you’re wanting to spend,” he relates. One area where there is flexibility is with plants.
“You can have a $20 plant, but something else might be $60, and something else might be $200. A lot of times, that’s your flexibility,” offers Daughrity, who says he has contacts for trees and plants all over the southeast and buys from North and South Carolina, as well as Alabama and Florida. Meanwhile, one other growing portion of the business is remedying water issues for people who have recently purchased homes in the area. “When buying a pre-owned house, most people focus on walls and structure and don’t look under the crawlspace or consider where water is falling off the roof,” says Daughrity, who also encourages people who are buying brand-new homes to familiarize themselves with any existing Homeowner Association (HOA) rules, including what you are allowed to do and what you are required to do.
And don’t overlook the value of Bear Creek’s lawn and landscape maintenance plans. With one of those, your property “always looks brand-new,” concludes Daughrity. “You don’t wake up in five years and wonder why you have to spend $10,000 to tear out shrubs that are overgrown.”
CONTACT: Bear Creek Landscapes & Design 2509 Cayer Lane, Ste. D Columbia, TN 38401
Specialized experience with deep local roots
If there's anyone who understands and appreciates the history of Columbia and the surrounding community, it's Andy Crichton, whose local roots date back five generations. Crichton grew up on a local farm before attending boarding school in Virginia, going off to college in Missouri, and then returning to Nashville after completing his education. But he brought his business to Columbia seven years after getting his start in the insurance business. For the past two decades, he's worked in Columbia, first at the historic firm of Redman-Davis Insurance and, more recently, at Athens Insurance.
"For the past six years, I have managed a branch office in downtown Columbia, and it's been a wonderful experience," he says of working for the Athens, Tenn.-based firm.
Crichton's main focuses are commercial insurance and construction.
"I'm a generalist (and handle) home, auto, and personal umbrella," he says, but 60 percent of his business is commercial.
"I'm focused on contractors and write a lot of business in the downtown area," he adds, with an emphasis on contractors, manufacturers, distributors, and restaurants. "I'm heavy on construction because that's what the game is right now. You see a lot of dump trucks, a lot of excavation, and a lot of landscapers" in Columbia these days, owing to the increased pace of development in the region.
Crichton says it's vital to find an agent who understands your industry.
"You wouldn't believe how complicated the rules and regulations of workers' compensation can be," he says, before going on to note that individuals who work for contractors often need insurance themselves.
"I've got a client who is a painter and does drywall, and he's got to meet certain qualifications and criteria to get a job with a general contractor. So there's a lot more to it than people realize. We don't just pull policies off the shelf," he concludes, referring to himself and the colleague he works with in his office.
As for his philosophy in terms of handling clients, Crichton says he focuses on building relationships.
"I have a very high retention rate," he says, without a trace of bravado. "I try to keep accounts and take care of them. I go for quality over quantity because you can't be everything to everybody. I really want to serve people, and I focus on educating and protecting."
That said, Crichton is also a big part of the local community and attends the First Presbyterian Church on South High St. in Columbia, where he married his wife Julie Gilbreath Crichton in 2005. The couple have two girls, who will turn 14 and 11 in October.
He spends much of his free time enjoying live entertainment and is a big supporter of the Maury County Arts Guild. He calls the Watershed Public Theatre a "great little theater" and "a hidden gem of our town," before adding that "it always amazes me the local talent that shows up on the stage."
Crichton also works on behalf of CASA of Maury County, which supports children at risk of being placed in the foster care system. To that end, he recently hosted a benefit concert for CASA at The Factory at Columbia, bridging his love of live music and charitable causes.
He says he feels very fortunate to work with Athens Insurance, and to live in Columbia.
"Maury County is a special place to grow up and to live and raise a family," he concludes. "This area has always been a charm. I love to travel but the best thing is coming back to Columbia."