Rodney Grugin, Loudon County Chamber of Commerce president and Meadow View Greenhouse and Garden Center co-founder, has worked diligently for years to make the chamber a place for businesses to thrive.
He and his wife, Lisa Grugin, opened Meadow View in Lenoir City in 1997. The couple in 2002 moved to Lenoir City where their children finished their education at Lenoir City High School.
Grugin moved from Knoxville after he and Lisa came back from the U.S. Army in 1992.
“Lisa’s siblings actually, we have a family farm in Fentress County, and her siblings had started a wholesale greenhouse operation out there in 1984, and so they were looking for a retail outlet for their product here in the Knoxville area,” Grugin said. “That’s when we found a spot for Meadow View, built it from the ground up, and the rest is history.”
Grugin worked with Lisa at Meadow View full time until accepting the chamber president role.
“We’ve been members of the chamber since we opened,” Grugin said. “I got more involved with the chamber in I guess it was 2007 was my first year on the board. It just kind of went from there. I stayed on the board for several years, chaired the chamber in 2010 and again chaired the chamber in 2017. After 2018, I rolled off the board, and of course, that was a period of transition, and they asked me to come down and take the job. After a lot of back and forth, that’s just where I ended up down here.”
Grugin can still be seen at Meadow View on weekends and after hours, but the duties of running the business were laid on Lisa’s shoulders. He said the transition has put “a lot more pressure” on Lisa, and it’s sometimes been “difficult,” but her hard work keeps the place operational.
Despite the challenges of running a business, Lisa has enjoyed watching her husband thrive with the chamber.
“I love seeing him succeed,” Lisa said. “I mean I miss having him here at Meadow View, especially with everything that’s happened. It’s a whole new world in business with the COVID situation and the plant world, but I’m very proud of him. I think he has done a tremendous job. He’s stepped in when the chamber was having a lot of trouble, and he has worked his heart out to fix it, and I think he’s done an excellent job. I’m just very, very proud of him.”
Grugin said starting the business was an “interesting” and “very tough” experience, but his family and business have been “very blessed and very lucky” in its more than decades of operation.
The chamber was a huge help to Grugin’s business in its early years, which is when he found a deep appreciation for all it does.
“I mean the chamber really helped us when we were a young business just by making connections with people who promoted your business,” Grugin said. “If you’ve got a good business, they’ll promote it. I think that was the best part for us. We got involved, and that helped us.”
Grugin believes each small business should take advantage of what the chamber has to offer.
“The chamber gives a voice to small business,” Grugin said. “Like Meadow View, which has one, two, three, four workers, doesn’t have the voice that 450 members of the chamber do, and I think that’s a big part of it. We can speak out on things that are important to not only small business, but business across the county and make an impact, and that’s important.”