They always say it is hard to let go of the good ones and this is true for Mitchell Distributing Co. After 40 years selling heavy equipment at Mitchell, Charles “Charlie” Boone has retired.
He has been replaced by Guy Pittman, who grew up in Spruce Pine, NC, now part of his sales territory and the place where Mitchell was established almost 70 years ago.
Boone celebrated with his wife, Vicky, along with Mitchell employees and fellow retirees on April 29, 2002, his last day with the company. Some of those who attended included Bill Cummins, Mitchell’s president; Dave Hunter, executive vice president; Marcus Archer, general manager; Fred Roberts, Asheville branch manager; Kenny White, western NC regional sales manager; as well as fellow retirees Fred Smith, Bill Hawkins, Bob Stewart, Malcolm Sorrells, whom Boone had worked with over the years.
Industry’s In His Blood
And it was as if he were born into it. His grandfather, Ed Boone, was one of the founder’s of Mitchell in 1933. Then Mitchell sold explosives as well as mining equipment and supplies.
By the early 1950s, Boone’s father wanted to focus solely on the explosives end, as he started out selling dynamite and pick axes. The other principals of the company wished to focus more on heavy equipment. As a result, the company split, with Boone’s father starting Explosive Supply Co., which is still in existence today and is run by Boone and his brothers.
Boone however, did not wish to follow in his father’s footsteps, not yet anyway. He started working for his father out of high school and then joined the Marine Corps. Upon his discharge, he saw an opportunity to work at Mitchell.
Boone started his career with the company on April 2, 1962, in the parts department. He stayed there for 10 years, two of them traveling around western North Carolina. After that, he was a parts manager for a few years and then went on the road for parts sales.
By the early 70s, Boone moved into equipment sales. It was in this capacity that he stayed for approximately 31 years. “I’ve probably driven a million and a half miles throughout my career in the mountains of western North Carolina,” Boone said.
For some the sameness of covering the same territory for more than 30 years could become old hat. For Boone, it was just right. “Even though my job was in the territory of 13 counties, I had a lot of opportunity to go to a lot of different places and see a lot of things.”
The best part of his job, he noted, was the travel and “meeting a lot of people.” These are the people that will miss him as well, according to Marcus Archer, general manager of Mitchell. “Charlie had an outstanding market share. His customers thought a lot of him, not only professionally, but personally. He is a good southern boy and he will be missed.”
Boone even made history with the company during his tenure. “I worked for Robert Stewert, who has since retired, and we had the occasion to sell the first Komatsu D55S track loader machine for Mitchell. It was a landmark deal,” he said. Mitchell took on the Komatsu account in the early 1970s and settled the deal a few week later. “We didn’t have the machines yet. We sold it from the brochure. Bob was the sales manager and I was the territory sales rep. We worked on it together,” he said.
Boone added that he is glad he stayed with Mitchell throughout his career. “They are great people. I had no reason to leave. I liked the work, I was raised in it…
“If you stayed there for 40 years, it is obvious that they [Mitchell] do something right. They are one of the greatest groups that I have ever been associated with. I can’t say enough about them.”
First an Employee, Now a
This remains the case as Boone is now a Mitchell customer. His family, as well as owning Explosives Supply, also runs a limestone quarry in Marion. “We focus more on the quarry and the concrete business now but still deal in explosives,” Boone said.
The quarry, he added, produces limestone for aggregate and road jobs. It also boasts two concrete plants and a fleet of 21 concrete trucks. “We produce aggregate for that as well as for some building stone. We also make ag-lime, which is a neutralizing agent that farmers put on soil to reduce acidity,” he said. Explosives Supply is one of the only producers of ag-lime in the state.
Currently Explosives Supply and the quarry operation run with 15 Komatsu machines all purchased from Mitchell. “We use them in our concrete and mining operations,” Boone explained.
Even though those at Mitchell will still work with Boone, he will be missed. “He’s a good one,” Archer said. “He got to know his customers intimately and by that, he gave the company stability. He had a great rapport with the customers. [Having long-time employees,] shows our customers that we are serious in this business.”
Other than helping to run the family business, which he says he hopes to stay at for as long as is possible, Boone also plans to enjoy his retirement. Plans for his free time include traveling and riding his motorcycle.
He still says he will miss his time at Mitchell. “I wouldn’t change anything. It wasn’t all roses, but nothing ever is. I enjoyed every bit of it,” he said.
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