Genesco generating jobs

Friday, June 22, 2012
Tribune photos by Clint Confehr Plant Manager David Turrentine, left, confers with SureGrip Footwear Manager Ray Lickert, center, and Billy Hinson, receiving manager, a 37-year veteran of Genesco.

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

CHAPEL HILL - Millions of shoes are moving through the Genesco warehouse here and, given recent developments, it would appear that number would grow. "Dockers purchased a company, so we're distributing an entirely new line of shoes," plant manager David Turrentine said during a break from his work at the building usually referred to as Dockers.

Chaps brand shoes are also shipped in and out of the building, but the new brand of shoes is SureGrip Footwear.

"It's an industrial line of footwear for use ... anywhere a slip-resistant sole would be handy," said Turrentine, listing the health care industry, cruise ships, their galleys, restaurant kitchens and similar work places that have an increased possibility of slip and fall injuries.

"Our business volume in general has increased," he said. "The prospects for the future do look nice.

"It's growing," the plant manager continued. "I knew it was a good business, but I didn't know it would be this good...

"It's a great problem to have," he said while discussing solutions which include a prospective expansion of the building that's soon to get increased water pressure from the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities as a couple of water mains are being built in this north Marshall County community.

Increased water pressure will increase security for the fire sprinkler system that's been relying on water in a tank that's pumped to the sprinklers in the event of an emergency. The pump, however, can drain the water tank quickly and new service lines will provide water faster than the pressure now available to refill the tank.

Without MCBPU's project, the shoe shipping business "quite possibly" could have moved elsewhere, Turrentine said. "This is a manufacturing building that was converted to distribution."

Shoes manufactured in China are shipped to California, trucked to Chapel Hill and distributed to customers - wholesale and retail - from the building on Nashville Highway.

The shoes stay at the warehouse 2-5 days.

Employees at the plant have moved as many as 45,000 pairs of shoes in one day, according to Angela Noe, the processing manager who said that volume was probably in February.

"We've had a record-breaking month every year I've been here," said Noe, 29, a five-year veteran of the plant.

This summer, she's working with a number of summer interns including Matt Kline, 18, of Forrest Hills Drive. He's the son of Matt and Elizabeth Kline. The rising senior at Forrest High School is a box maker.

With other classmates, Kline is experiencing the real world of work with an inside view of a growing operation.

Ray Lickert, 63, of Lewisburg, recently transferred to this Tennessee plant from a shoe plant in upstate New York.

He's the SureGrip Footwear manager at the Chapel Hill building.

"I moved here because of the growth," Lickert said.

SureGrip has two kinds of customers. Individuals may go to its Web site and order a pair of shoes. Companies that want to order shoes for their employees may call the company, speak with a sales representative, and have an order shipped out from Chapel Hill.