Powell Power Equipment Inc. founder and president Bill Shupe founded his business on customer service when he opened his doors way back in 1978.
It’s a concept he has never veered from. Forty years later, familiar faces are still coming back to the popular Clinton Highway business for their outdoor power equipment needs.
“We’ve had very loyal customers,” said the 76 year old Shupe back in 2019. We’ve got people who have been with us from the start. People in Powell have supported us very well.
Shupe came to East Tennessee in the late 1970s wanting to get back into the retail business after working at J.C. Penny in Virginia. He did a little studying about the Powell area and found there were no retail outlets that specialized in outdoor power equipment and mowers. So he converted the site of an old car lot with an igloo looking building into his newfangled business.
“We never made a profit for the first two years, but I was prepared for that,” explained Shupe.
Slowly, he began to cultivate a customer following and the business took off at 7145 Clinton, Hwy.
His son Stephen, now 48, has worked with his father since the business opened. Stephen’s wife, Misty is also the bookkeeper in the family owned business.
“I told them, you won’t be able to get Bill Gates-rich (working here), but you will be able to have a decent standard of living,” said Shupe. “It worked. The good Lord has blessed us.”
In addition to selling movers, chainsaws, blowers, weed whackers and trimmers, Shupe said his business features a highly trained staff and a massive inventory of parts.
Behind the service counter are rows and rows of spare parts for every make and model of outdoor power equipment imaginable.
“Our biggest thing that kept us going over the years is our parts department,” said Shupe. “We have thousands and thousands of parts. We probably have the best inventory in Knox County.”
Shupe said he’ll stack his skilled service department up against anybody’s.
“We have three services fellows whose experience adds up to about 75 years. Working on (todays power equipment) is certainly a lot more complicated than it used to be.
“We have to send our guys to school constantly. It’s a lot different than the old days when you just had to put in points and plugs.”
Powell Power Equipment features eXmark zero-turn riding mowers and carries a full line of Stihl products.
Stand-behind, Snapper self-propelled mowers are also a popular purchase by homeowners with small or medium lawns.
Shupe said another big change over the years is the number of women who come into the shop looking to buy power equipment.
Shupe said he has no plans on retiring anytime soon. After all, he has 40 years of relationships tied up in his business.
“They like me to be here,” he said with a laugh. I would like to be the social chairman. I’ve really enjoyed the people.