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By Claire Sellers, Duck River Electric Membership Corporation

“How’s your conduct?” This is a phrase you will hear quite often in the small town of Lynnville, located in Giles County. Col. Littleton himself uses this greeting often. The appropriate response is always: “Stellar.”

Col. Littleton is an American fashion designer and business owner. Best known for handmade, upscale leather goods and specialty products, Col. Littleton’s manufacturing center is in Lynnville.

After establishing his business in 1987, Col. Littleton today supplies more than 500 stores across the United States. His leather goods and other products are featured in catalogs such as Orvis and Sundance. Col. Littleton also works with other businesses to incorporate their logos and
brands on various leather products. Two storefront locations in downtown Lynnville are
open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

“We are in the process of moving our manufacturing down the road,” says Col. Littleton, an honorary colonel in Tennessee and Kentucky. This move means all of Col. Littleton’s products will be manufactured on the Duck River Electric Membership Corporation system. His workforce totals 40 employees.

“My goal is for our customers to have unique, one-of-a-kind products,” says Col. Littleton. “No two pieces are the same. Each piece of leather is different, and that’s what we want.”

Products are designed exclusively by Col. Littleton himself and made to have a vintage look and feel.
Different vintage military pieces are used as inspiration. Personalization is an option available to customers. Add customization to a knife or leather product to make it uniquely yours.

“We strive to be stellar in everything we do,” says Col. Littleton. “We aren’t in the needing business. We are in the wanting business. We strive to have stellar customer service and stellar products.”

An order from Col. Littleton includes a Moon Pie, an opportunity to review the product and a “How’s Your Conduct?” sticker.

“Each box that is shipped out will become a guest in someone’s home,” says the Colonel. “It’s all about
presentation. We care about the packaging as much as we care about the product that’s in the box.”

Customers of Col. Littleton include presidents, governors and numerous musical and Hollywood
celebrities. “I learn something new every day,” says employee Lynn Stevens. “I get to see the product when it’s still an idea.”

Each of Col. Littleton’s exclusively designed products is inspected seven to eight times before being packaged and shipped.

History is something that is important to Col. Littleton and his wife, Susie. The couple restored the Andrew Jackson Tavern and moved it to Lynnville from Belfast, Tenn. The tavern, which dates to the early 1800s, today serves as Col. Littleton’s office. An 1874 schoolhouse that has also been restored by Col. Littleton is used for company meetings.

Along with leather products, Col. Littleton has a CD featuring a collection of stories and music. Visit the store and browse through the truly remarkable leather goods inventory.

For more information, contact Col. Littleton at 1-800-842-4075 or visit colonellittleton.com.

Small towns, big ideas – that’s our theme for the coming year.

But more than just a theme, it is an appropriate phrase to describe the character of the small towns across the state served by our cooperatives. Communities such as Linden, Lascassas, Red Boiling Springs, and Henderson. Those aren’t exactly population centers, but everything doesn’t have to happen in Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga or Knoxville.

Despite the size and explosive growth in our major cities, the small towns we serve are home to more than 2 ½ million people. Looking at the numbers, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives serve 71% of the state’s land mass.

We all make choices on where we live. Most of you prefer big years and wide-open spaces, giving you the freedom and room to do what you want to do. Others prefer to live in ­closer quarters in urban areas. The greatest thing is having the freedom to choose.

However, sometimes we make choices based on harsh economics. Everyone of you probably knows some who left the rural community to move to the city   — and not because they wanted to do, but because they had to. Sometimes, it’s a matter of providing for your family.

Imagine being able to live where you’re happy, work where you live, and to have all of the “creature comforts” that enable you to work, eat and play all in your community. And to do without a daily commute of an hour plus.

We’ve written about the beginnings of rural electrification over the years, but have you ever thought deeply about that reality and the implications of what it meant? The lack of electricity affected their work, it affected their education, and it affected their ability to fully enjoy life.

But those rural resients had bigger ideas and decided to change that.

Those rural residents joined together to build a safe, reliable and affordable electric infrastructure just like the investor owned utilities owned in the more densely populated areas. It improved their rural way of life, their work, their education, and made their leisure time far more enjoyable.

Today, three generations out, our cooperatives are charged with the responsibility of maintaining and improving that electric grid. These small towns depend on us each and every day for the electricity that powers their lives.

We solved rual America’s need for electricity, but the needs of rural residents today are just as critical. Access to broadband, healthcare, and jobs, just to name a few. Those needs represent an opportunity to serve – to make life better for our members.

How do you think those groups of rural residents in the thirties got together to form the co-op? Door-to-door. Talking to their neighbors about the big idea they had – a chance to make things better in their communities. The large utility corporations had money and power and initially dismissed the efforts of the REA and TVA.  But those front porch discussions led to a massive upheaval of the electric utility infrastructure and people’s lives were made better.

Just like those early pioneers, rural residents see the lack of services everyday. As leaders in our communities, we need to be advocates for our communities and champions for their success. We need to work just as hard and be just as concerned for their curret needs as we revere the accomplishments of the past. It’s part of our continuing mission to bring equity to rural Tennesseans.

NASHVILLE – “Small Towns, Big Ideas” was the theme of the 74th annual meeting of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, held Sunday, Nov. 22, through Tuesday, Nov. 24, in Nashville. More than 350 electric cooperative leaders from across the state attending the event were encouraged to be advocates for the communities they serve.

“Whether it be broadband expansion, political affairs or economic development, co-ops have unique opportunities to foster development in our service areas,” says David Callis, TECA executive vice president and general manager. “Concern for community is one of our guiding principles. The focus of this event – and the coming year – is to explore the real ways co-ops can demonstrate our commitment to rural and suburban Tennessee.”

During the meeting, elections were held for positions on the association’s board of trustees. Jeff Newman, general manager of Forked Deer Electric Cooperative in Halls; Dan Smith, a director from Middle Tennessee Electric Cooperative in Murfreesboro; and Jarrod Brackett, manager of Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative in Madisonville, were elected to four-year terms.

Jim Coode, general manager of Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation in Clarksville, was named president of the board of trustees. John Collins, general manager of Chickasaw Electric Cooperative in Somerville, was named vice president; and Johnnie Ruth Elrod, a director with Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative in Centerville, was named secretary-treasurer.

Delegates also elected Tom Purkey, a director with Middle Tennessee Electric, to represent Tennessee on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association board.

“Congratulations to those honored with leadership positions,” says Callis. “Their talents and ideas will be valuable as we continue our mission to serve Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and their members.”

The first annual TECA Top Tenn Communication Awards were presented during the event. Duck River Electric Membership Corporation received an award for Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section; Appalachian Electric Cooperative, Best Internal Newsletter; Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Best Website; and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, Best Use of Social Media. Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative each received awards in the Wild Card category, with Chickasaw Electric Cooperative and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative also earning Honorable Mentions.

“Effective communication is a powerful tool for modern electric cooperatives,” says Robin Conover, TECA’s vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. “We honor these winners for telling the electric cooperative story in a professional way across multiple platforms.”

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association represents Tennessee’s 24 electric cooperatives and the 2.1 million members they serve across rural and suburban Tennessee.

For more information
Trent Scott, Director of Corporate Strategy
Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association
615.515.5534 | tscott@tnelectric.org