SCORE One for Tennessee Hickory Products

Grant Wanzer, owner of Tennessee Hickory Products on Keene Street in Loudon, a manufacturer of hickory handles used in a variety of hand tools such as hammers, rakes, and shovels, was satisfied with his sales results and the acceptance of his products by his customers but sensed his business could be even more successful and profitable.

Unsure how to go about accomplishing this, in 2003 he contacted a cousin in Michigan who was a volunteer with SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executives), a resource partner of the Small Business Administration, or SBA. The cousin referred him to the Loudon County Chamber of Commerce who In turn referred him to Larry Struttmann, a volunteer with the Greater Knoxville SCORE chapter and a resident of Loudon County.

According to Mr. Struttmann, many individuals begin a business with expertise in the product or service they want to provide, but are less knowledgeable about business aspects like cost accounting, inventory control, marketing, and business planning. "In Mr. Wanzer's case," said Struttmann, "we were able to analyze his processes in a series of free counseling sessions to help him get a better understanding of his actual business costs. This led to the creation of a spreadsheet that precisely detailed his costs, allowing him to better understand his cost structure and account for them in his pricing calculations."

Since these sessions began, the company's sales have more than doubled, with its profits increasing accordingly. Wanzer credits the actions recommended by SCORE volunteer Struttmann for contributing greatly to this success, and is considering additional plans for even further improvement. And in a reversal of national trends, Wanzer says the firm is growing its export business, primarily to Europe and China.