Roy Exum: Give Littlefield A Plaque

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I’ve always been a big believer in the extended family. I believe you go through life a lot easier if you hold hands with your buddies when you are crossing a busy street. They’ll take care of you. Your friends – those you trust – are all that matters when it comes to sticking together and mastering life’s pitfalls. You see, the way it works is that they depend on you, too

So put me down as one who winced when a story appeared in the Times Free Press the other day chastising former city mayor Ron Littlefield for buying office supplies from a Chattanooga company rather than some carpet-bagger in Louisville, Ky. The story alleged that the taxpayers paid about $10 more for a printing cartridge as a result, or about $20,000 more for all of 2012 had Littlefield honored the lowest bidder.

If I were king, I would ask the City Council and the County Commission to immediately grant County Mayor Jim Coppinger and City Mayor Andy Berke a “common sense” clause in any bidding process because if we don’t take care of local companies, and local people, we are doing a greater disservice to the taxpayers than any savings will ever equal.

The company that Littlefield wisely bought ink cartridges from is called COS. That really means “Chattanooga Office Supply” with an accent on the “Chattanooga.” COS pays city and county taxes. Its employees live among us and they buy food in our grocery stores, send their children to local schools, support local churches and contribute to our economy every single day. The Louisville company counts their money in far-away Kentucky at no benefit whatsoever to the greater good of “us.”

Taxpayer money has been and should always be carefully stewarded, but Mayors Coppinger and Berke should also be given free rein to steward our community as well. Chattanooga is big enough to offer multiple bids on ink cartridges, and just about anything else, without some slicks from Louisville, Atlanta, or Knoxville coming amongst us to undercut our rich heritage of “buying local.”

Back in the day one of my responsibilities at our family newspaper was to handle our fleet of vehicles. The way we did it back then, we had about 100 cars and trucks and “fleet representives” of out-of-town dealers were always coming by to “save us money.” I was taught early on by my grandfather “the worst thing you will ever hear in business is when somebody ‘wants to save you money.’ What that really means is he wants to take your money.”

I would always be kind and polite to out-of-town solicitors – they were just trying to do their job – so I’d buy them a cold Coca-Cola and then ask, “How much advertising do you plan to do with us?” Local car dealers would spent thousands of dollars advertising with us and the out-of-town visitor never finished his Coke before the conversation was over.

But, wait, there is more. If I had a problem with a truck I bought locally, I could handle it in a phone call but do you think for a second that some out-of-town guy is going to care after he cashes your check? One of life’s unwritten rules is you honor your friends, your friend’s children and their children’s children. I believe business ought to be the same way.

I know Skip Ireland, who runs Chattanooga Office Supply, and he is one of “us.” Ron Littlefield should get a star – not a scar – for understanding the economic benefits and “the ripple effect” that is created when you buy local, especially in the government sector. Do you have any idea how many philanthropic events I’ve been to down through the years where I’ve seen Skip Ireland and his family? The “ripple effect” is huge, I’m telling you.

I believe every automobile that is bought by city and county government should now be a Volkswagen Passat. Sure, we can get a comparable vehicle at a savings but now Volkswagen is us. I feel the same way about Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Unum, Little Debby, Chattem products and so many other local companies where I have a choice.

Both the city and county use trucks. Nothing irks me quite as badly when we use taxpayer money to buy one from an out-of-town dealer instead of a dealer who pays taxes in Chattanooga. I don’t believe you can save enough money on the lowest bid to offset what really happens when we ignore “us” in favor of shipping ink cartridges from Louisville, Ky. In an emergency, Skip Ireland can have a box to you in 30 minutes but the Louisville slick “thinks” it may be next Tuesday.

There is something to be learned from “penny wise – pound foolish.” I appreciate the fact Ron Littlefield recognized that.

royexum@aol.com



Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

The entire Western Hemisphere is breathlessly awaiting today’s Royal Wedding where Meghan Markle will be united in Holy Matrimony to England’s dashing Price Harry but it may well be the nuptials will take a second billing. Sir Harry is alleged to have said during his ‘Stag Party” (the British equivalent to bachelor’s parties in America) the ultimate quote earlier this week. Some ... (click for more)

District 8 Voters Rendered Their Opinion On UnifiEd - And Response

On or about April 13, the field teams of UnifiEd's paid staffers started knocking on the doors of voters in District 8 advocating for East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert and others. At that very moment the brand UnifiEd carefully built since 2014 began to unravel. Over the next 17 days, UnifiEd was an incredible boost to my campaign as the conservative voters of District 8 realized the ... (click for more)

Man And Woman Killed In Sunday Morning Murder/Suicide At Hixson Gas Station

A man and a woman were killed in a Sunday morning murder/homicide at a gas station in Hixson. The shooting was shortly after 10 a.m. at a Shell station at Hixson Pike and Brookaire.  Upon arrival, police located Kimberly Phillips, 48, lying in the parking lot from an apparent gunshot wound.  Also in the same parking lot, officers located Frederick Tragresser, 47, ... (click for more)

$2,060,705 Tennessee Cash Jackpot Won In South Pittsburg Friday Night

A Tennessee Cash player in South Pittsburg won a near-record jackpot of $2,060,705 on  Friday  night. A Knoxville Powerball player won $50,000  Saturday  night by matching four of the five white numbers drawn plus the red Powerball. No information is available about the winners until the prizes are claimed. The  $315.3 million ... (click for more)

Six Chattanooga Baseball, Softball Teams Open State Play This Week

The state tournament matchups in baseball and softball have been announced. Only thing left is for the fortunate teams that have reached the 2018 TSSAA Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to make a final push toward possible championships, the most prized trophies in high school sports. While only two local baseball teams -- Baylor and McCallie -- are ... (click for more)

Lookouts Fall (3-2) In 10th Inning Walk-Offs By Biloxi Saturday & Sunday

The Biloxi Shuckers (26-17) grabbed their second walk-off victory of the season in extra innings on Saturday night against the Chattanooga Lookouts (28-15) with a 3-2 win. The Lookouts have a 3 1/2 game lead over second-place Jackson in the North Division, while Biloxi has a 3 1/2 game lead over Mobile in the South Divisioon The Shuckers scored two runs to counter Chattanooga's ... (click for more)