Send the Light Distribution was four hours away from signing a lease to move to Hawkins County, when the owner had a change of heart and relocated his company to Bristol Industrial Park.
The lease on the company’s almost 200,000-square-foot warehouse in Elizabethton, Tennessee, expired and another company was willing to pay more than the international distributor of Christian products could pay.
Glenn Bailey, president and CEO of STL, said most companies have faced that kind of a challenge, and it was his intention to make the drive for his employees as reasonable as possible.
“We were four hours away from signing a lease for another county,” Bailey said. “We were initially going to go to Hawkins County and the problem was really logistics. It would have been about a 52-mile drive through Carter County, Washington County, Sullivan County and into Hawkins County for our employees. It just made sense for us to come to Bristol.”
Shari Brown, the city’s economic development and community director, said she believes the company saw the huge benefit that comes from locating in Bristol.
“He [Bailey] is leasing the building, so the property owner took care of all the property renovations to make the building adequate for their needs,” Brown said. “The city will see an increase in work force numbers by 100 employees with the move and the possibility of more through additional company contracts coming to fruition.”
Bailey said that while that is true, most of his employees made the move to Bristol with him.
“Every one of our workers in Carter County was offered the opportunity to come with us to Bristol,” Bailey said. “There were about half a dozen people who chose not make the extra 21-mile drive to the new location. The good news is there are now 95 people that are employed in Bristol that were previously employed in Carter County. For an employer to have that many people who liked working for us so much they chose to drive an extra 21 miles a day to work is good news.”
Tom Anderson, the city’s economic development business specialist, said the city has worked hard to develop well-designed business parks that are functional for years into the future.
“This park is an example of that effort,” Anderson said. “We welcome companies like Send The Light Distribution to our community. I see this move as a very positive contribution to our city.”
Mayor Lea Powers agreed, “We were elated to see Send The Light Distribution become a part of our community,” she said. “We are here to provide assistance as needed to see the company continue to expand and prosper.”
The company is an international distributor of Christian products, including books, Bibles, communion cups and wafers, toys, homeschooling products, jewelry, apparel, home décor, fair trade products, books CDs, music, movies, and DVDs.
It purchases from more than 500 vendors and ships to more than 10,000 locations. Most of the company’s customers are retailers in North America, but they also send containers of discount Bibles and books overseas.
This article first appeared in the Bristol Herald Courier.