With 50 years combined experience in molded plastics, tool-making and machinery, entrepreneurs Eric Hamilton of Mt. Juliet and his partner Jeff Brunelle, from North Carolina, are jumping into Coffee County’s injection-molding industry with both feet and a style of their own.
Their startup, called Top Tenn, is located in the historic PCA pajama factory building on East Coffee Street in Manchester, which they recently purchased and are now busy cleaning, renovating and setting up for production, which they said will specialize in injection molding, in-house tooling capabilities and assembly.
“We looked in Lewisburg, Nashville and Mt. Juliet,” Hamilton said, “but we liked the fact that Manchester offers good proximity to our customer base, and we also fell in love with this building and its history.
“This was the company that used to make Superman and Batman and other ‘superhero’ pajamas, and I owned a pair or two myself.”
Hamilton added that several small offices on the main floor had to be removed to accommodate their rows of massive machinery.
“We’re not sure why there were so many small office spaces in the building, but we had to take them out to make room,” he said. “Otherwise we hope to preserve as much of the building’s history as we can.
“We have some old photographs of the pajama company from the 1950’s, but if anyone knows where we can find more photos or other memorabilia of the factory, we’d be very interested.”
With roughly 100,000 square feet inside and another eight acres behind the building, they currently only occupy about one-fourth of the interior space right now but are happy to have room to grow.
“It takes us about 45 minutes just to lock up, this place is so huge,” Brunelle said.
“We love the exterior brick, the building has good bones and there are no leaks in the roof, so we think we can bring it back over time.”
They added that, since the building is located right on the railroad, they hope to add a spur at some point and use rail as part of their logistics…
Continue reading the complete story in next week’s (May 29) print edition of the Manchester Times. Click here to subscribe to the print and/or full online edition of the paper.