The test of time: forget about start-ups, Chattanooga is home to many hundred-year-old pillars
Chattanooga aims to foster start-ups.
Chattanooga is home to Tennessee’s largest business incubator on the North Coast and a 140-acre downtown innovation district, anchored by the 11-story Edney Innovation Center that caters to the creative workers of “the ecosystem. entrepreneurial “from Chattanooga. GigTank programs run throughout the summer, Startup Week Chattanooga is held annually in October, and business accelerator programs are regularly run by The Company Lab, Lamp Post Group, and LaunchTN.
While startups can be sexy, the US Small Business Administration says that only about half of all businesses survive more than five years, less than a third beyond 12 years, and only a tiny fraction of 1% still survive. active after 100 years.
But despite all the attention it gives to new start-ups, Southeast Tennessee is still home to strong businesses that started 100 years ago – and still going strong.
100 years in 2017
* MoonPie brand made by Chattanooga Bakery
* Dixie Foundry in Cleveland, which has become today’s Whirlpool appliances
* Citizens Savings & Loan offers consumer loans and now has 19 branches
* Hubbuch Glass, which started as a mirror manufacturing company in Chattanooga
* Chattanooga plant manufactures recycled cardboard today for WestRock Chattanooga
In 2017, century-old companies and brands included the MoonPie made by Chattanooga Bakery; Whirlpool appliances, which have centuries-old roots in Cleveland, Tenn .; Hubbuch Glass, which started as a mirror manufacturing company in Chattanooga; Citizens Savings and Loan Corp., a consumer credit company that opened on the first floor of the Volunteer State Life building when it was built in 1917, and WestRock Chattanooga, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of its factory in North Chattanooga, one of the first in the South to recycle cardboard.
Citizens Savings & Loan is the oldest in Tennessee
Tennessee’s oldest industrial loan and savings may sound more like an S&L mortgage lender in his name than the consumer lender he is.
Citizens Savings & Loan was formed in November 1917 and opened the following month on the ground floor of the new 10-story Volunteer State Life building as a general savings and loan company. The company abandoned most of its savings instruments and exited the home loan market in 2013, but it has been a key source of short-term credit for thousands of Tennessians in need of cash to buy or repair a home. car or shopping for everything from home appliances to special vacations.
Citizens is not a savings and loan as they are called today. Rather, the company is a consumer finance company offering traditional installment loans of $ 1,000 to $ 20,000 to help buy cars, boats, furniture, appliances, and other borrowing needs.
The century-old consumer lender has grown to 20 branches in the Middle East and Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.
“In the ’80s and’ 90s, we updated our technology and achieved most of our growth by adding more offices,” said Pat St. Charles III, CEO of the company since 2003 and only the third president of the company for the past 60 years.
But even with new technology and more branches, St. Charles said “it’s still about relationships” for both loan granting and collection.
A century of papermaking
Bales of recycled cardboard go to one end of the sprawling 40-acre factory at 701 Manufacturers Road and rolls of recycled cardboard exit the other end.
“100 years ago we were concerned about the environment,” says Pat Cowan, general manager of the WestRock Chattanooga plant.
The plant’s output is sold to customers, including Southern Champion Tray located next door, to make cardboard tubes, dividers in wine crates and pink boxes that hold donuts, cakes and more. bakery products.
The mill’s enormous machinery is steam powered. Some work pieces were installed in 1947 and parts from the original 1917 papermaking line are still in place, says Jackie Hancock, the mill’s maintenance superintendent.
“It’s old technology, but it still works,” says Hancock.
“The Chattanooga plant is a world-class facility,” said Steve Voorhees, CEO of WestRock, a $ 15 billion publicly traded company based in Norcross, Ga., Which employs some 45,000 people in more than 300 facilities.
He cited data from the survey company, Gallup, to back it up.
When Gallup asked the plant’s commercial customers if they would recommend installing Chattanooga on a scale of one to five, he said the Chattanooga WestRock Chattanooga plant received a rating of 4.74.
“The world class is 4.7,” says Voorhees.
MoonPies first designed for coal miners
Approximately 1 million MoonPies are made every day at Chattanooga Bakery, a business located at 900 Manufacturers Road that has been owned by the Campbell family for generations. The president of the company is Sam Campbell IV.
The MoonPie was born in 1917, when a Kentucky coal miner asked itinerant bakery vendor Earl Mitchell, Sr., for a snack “as big as the moon” as a way to help the miners between meals. Mitchell came back to the bakery and offered the 5-cent MoonPie: two chewy four-inch graham crackers, with a layer of marshmallow in between, dipped in chocolate.
“It filled up, fit in the lunch bucket and the coal miners loved it,” the company said.
The August 21 total solar eclipse that swept across the United States in 2017 illuminated sales of MoonPies.
“We had more sales in two weeks than in 2016 online,” said Alex Brener, president of MoonPie General Store.
Chattanooga Bakery Co. made as many MoonPies as possible, but the company had to temporarily shut down its website for about a week in August when demand exceeded the company’s production capacity.
Not much has changed at Hubbuch Glass
Hubbuch Glass at 855 Central Ave. is named after Otto Hubbuch, who started the business in 1917. He moved the business to its current location in 1927 – and little has changed since then.
Until 1962, Hubbuch primarily made wood-framed mirrors, most notably for the Read House Hotel, a landmark in downtown Chattanooga.
Mirror-making stopped when the Chattanooga Pollution Board visited Hubbuch because chemicals from the silver plating process were rising into the atmosphere. In addition, other companies, especially those in North Carolina, were producing cheaper versions.
Hubbuch, then under the direction of his son Bill Hubbuch, moved from mirrors to manufacturing bathroom glass cases and glasses.
In the late 1960s, Bill Hubbuch wanted to do “a million dollar job,” says Don Johnson, the current president and co-owner of Hubbuch. Hubbuch therefore lowered his bid on what would become the “golden building” on Pine Street next to the freeway. It took three years to complete and finally opened in 1970, serving as offices for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The gold building recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and reopened as the Westin Hotel.
Today, Hubbuch makes most of his money in aluminum windows. He cuts the frames and makes the windows on site.
The DeWalt 15-inch radial arm saw used to cut the frames was introduced in the 1950s. The storage bins where the glass is kept are also original. You can even follow the original yellow line painted on the floor that brings you to the pickup area.
Whirlpool’s roots in Cleveland turn 100 years old
Whirlpool’s new plant which opened in 2012 in Cleveland, Tennessee, is the company’s largest manufacturer of premium cooking products, including freestanding double ovens and a handful of well-known brands: Whirlpool, Amana, Maytag, Jenn-Air and KitchenAid.
Whirlpool’s roots in Cleveland go back 100 years, as July 2017 marked 100 years since the Dixie Foundry turned on its ovens and pulled “the first heat.”
The Dixie Foundry of Cleveland has progressed to become known nationally and internationally as the Magic Chef. Maytag bought Magic Chef in 1986. And then in 2006, Whirlpool bought Maytag.
Whirlpool is one of the region’s key companies in the home appliance industry with approximately 1,500 employees at its Cleveland plant and another 600 working in a call center.
Business at the Whirlpool plant in Cleveland is improving steadily as the housing market picks up momentum after the recession, company officials say. Tennessee has the second largest Whirlpool worker presence nationwide behind Ohio, which has five factories.