TSBDC Names Chattanooga Plumbing Recipient of 2018 Rising Star Award

By Rachel McClard

The annual Rising Star Award recognizes companies that exemplify not only business success, but an outstanding working relationship with the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) and use of its services. This year, Chris and Melody Bingham, owners of Chattanooga Plumbing Co., received the Rising Star Award.

This award coincides with a national celebration on March 21 - SBDC Day, a movement to help share small business success stories and the notable impact SBDCs have fostered in communities nationwide. The Small Business Development Center is part of a network of 14 offices in Tennessee, and nearly 1,000 locations across the United States.

Chris Bingham met Josh Brown, Small Business Specialist at the SBDC, through a local banker unable to assist in his lending needs. Bingham, a 13-year veteran employee, was attempting to purchase the business from the present owner, who had owned it since the 1970s.

"Steve, the previous owner, and I have been working on him selling the business to me for over two years, but in order to finance the purchase, everybody we talked with wanted at least a 30 percent down payment, and I didn't have that kind of money. I didn't realize it would be so hard to get a loan to buy an obviously good business that has been around since 1928," says Bingham, an experienced plumber.

“While a highly experienced plumber, Chris needed help understanding the planning and financial aspects of managing a more robust business. After reaching out to the TSBDC, Chris did a fantastic job developing a strategy to move Chattanooga Plumbing into the next generation," Brown says.

When the conventional lending option didn't work, the TSBDC facilitated additional resources through Pathway Lending, who assisted in finalizing a loan package, including an owner finance piece.

The purchase was successfully completed in January 2017.

Since then, Chattanooga Plumbing continues to be a success story. Bingham has brought his wife, Melody, in as Office Manager; they have purchased two new vans, hired four new plumbers and are anticipating higher revenues than the company has made in previous years.

 “We at the TSBDC are so fortunate to work with clients like Chris that are able to find solutions to the challenges faced by all small businesses,” says Lynn Chesnutt, Managing Director of the TSBDC Chattanooga office. 

The TSBDC and partners Chattanooga State Community College, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce appreciate small business owners for economic development contributions to the community based on overall business management, jobs created and retained, as well as capital infusion success. 


The TSBDC of Chattanooga State Community College offers seminars, one on one business counseling and more. Find out more about their support of small businesses here