It's hard to imagine, but as recently as 60 years ago, many farms didn't have electricity;
Back then in the 1950s, Lawson and Pauline Barnes were erstwhile antique dealers. They made frequent trips in their truck from their home in Tennessee to Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and New England to buy antiques for resale. Then, there were no interstates, and the now-ubiquitous motels and restaurants were few and far-between, so they usually stayed with friends. During their travels, The Barnes' continually heard this question: "Do you know where we can buy parts for our old lamps?' It became clear that the lamp parts business was a viable idea.
In early 1952, the Barnes' bought 12 acres of land on the edge of McMinnville, TN, and set up B&P Lamp Supply's first facility. Later the same year, they assembled their first catalog of lamp replacement parts. Paul O. Barnes, Lawson and Pauline’s son, joined the business in the mid-1950s and eventually became president of B&P Lamp Supply. His energy and enthusiasm for early lighting helped the company grow from a tiny 2,500 square-foot building to its current facility of 150,000 square feet, which houses the most extensive line of lamp-restoration parts in the world. Says current president Paul Michael Barnes, "Like good Tennessee whiskey, we seem to have gotten better with age."
"B&P Lamp Supply is one of the most successful enterprises in our community," says Dr. Norman W. Rone, the mayor of McMinnville. "The family-owned and operated business has made many significant contributions to the area and provided job opportunities to a number of people. It is internationally known for its quality lighting materials, and locally famous as the place to find traditional lamps and lighting fixtures. I certainly congratulate them for 60 years of service to our community."
With the advent of the Internet, Skype and a great deal of globe-trotting, the B&P team has been able to develop a valuable network of master craftsmen and more than 6,000 dealers around the world. TV and movie production companies often call on B&P Lamp to supply them with props for shows and films. They have grown exponentially where other niche businesses haven't fared so well.
"I think we've survived because each generation of owners has had a good understanding of the history of antiques and early lighting, and we've innovated and adapted our products to the ever-changing trends, says president Paul Michael Barnes. “Thankfully, antique lamps and light fixtures are usually regarded in American households as heirlooms — as a direct connection to family heritage. We've managed to do a good job of having what people want at a reasonable price."
Fourth-generation family member Michael A. Barnes is slated to eventually take over the company, and has a realistic take on the inherent stresses of running a family-owned business. "Working in a family business is a double-edged sword: it encourages success in the name of tradition, while raising the capacity for personal sacrifice for the sake of family cohesion. Both factors positively affect business success and continuity."
What's in store for the future? "Since 2010 we have been developing our fabric shade line with new contemporary styles," says Paul Michael Barnes. "We are also planning a new glass shade catalog for later this year. Our key to success in the future will be to continue doing what we have always done: provide quality niche products and serve customers well. We'd like to thank all of the people who have helped us along the way, because without them, we certainly would not have made it to our 60th-year anniversary. One of our most important assets has always been our people."
ABOUT B&P LAMP SUPPLY
B&P Lamp Supply, established in 1952, is based in McMinnville, TN. The company has 30 employees and currently maintains a 150,000 square-foot warehouse of antique reproduction lamp supplies, fixtures and accessories, and is the largest supplier of such products in the world. The wholesale division (B&P Lamp Supply) and the retail division (Antique Lamp Supply) conduct a sizable portion of their business via mail-order catalog and on their respective websites. Both divisions have a reputation for craftsmanship, quality and authenticity, and are well-known throughout the retail industry. B&P Lamp Supply is now in its fourth generation of ownership and is managed by: Paul M. Barnes, President; Barry Barnes, Vice President; Michael Barnes, Vice President-Accounting;
B&P Lamp Supply
843 Old Morrison Highway
McMiinnville, TN 37110
Phone: 800-822-3450 x227
Websites: http://bplampsupply.com and http://antiquelampsupply.com