With his involvement in area youth sports for almost two decades, Freddie Harris is a familiar face in the community. He recently partnered with a friend in a new business endeavor and sat down with the Herald to discuss this and more.
Freddie is originally from Burns, Tennessee – a small town 30 miles west of Nashville.
“I am an only child therefore my wife would say I am somewhat spoiled. My parents are Leon Harris of Bon Aqua, Tennessee, and Dori Evans of Moore Haven, Florida.
“I attended Burns Elementary School, a K-5 school with about 200 students. My best friend was Trevor Daniel. He later served as my best man in my wedding. We still stay in touch and keep a check on each other’s family.”
Freddie spent two years at Dickson County High School before transferring to Grundy County High School.
“I quickly made new friends through football and baseball. The school was somewhat of a shock going from 3,000 students to a 650-member student body. The first thing I noticed though was how tight-knit and close everyone was.
“Some of my best friends included Dr. Jay Trussler whom I roomed with in college and Tommy Andrews (who also lived in our dorm room). Those two friendships have lasted throughout the years and we still converse from time to time.
“If you ever played ball for Coach Chris Pickett or Coach Ted Ladd (and their staffs), you were instilled with a pride and desire to band together like brothers. You just had this desire to go to battle for each other on Friday nights or when you stepped on the baseball diamond. Recently, I was reminded through the actions of a teammate just how strong that bond was. Twenty-three years after our playing days, Chris King helped me realize that when we are down and out, in danger of losing our temper, or just in need of a friend to talk to, you can always count on your teammates. I know I told him thanks that day but I would like to mention it again. He took me by the arm and said brother we need to go pray. Thanks Chris, for knowing what I needed when my mind was not clear.”
After high school, Freddie attended the University of Tennessee at Martin.
“I played baseball there for one year. During the summer after my freshman year, I was hired and moved up to foreman with a communications company. College became an afterthought and thus my working career began.
“My first real job was cutting meat at the Save-A-Lot in Dickson County. I worked there for one and one-half years, part time.
“After moving to the mountain, I went to work for my future father-in-law and mother-in-law, Bill and Virginia Lockhart. It was a great fit as they allowed me to work around my athletic schedule.
“After attending UTM, I went to work with Communication Professionals out of Chicago. After a year, I moved to Nashville and was hired by Snap-On-Tools. I was a warehouse laborer for six months before being promoted to warehouse supervisor. After six more months I was promoted to sales rep and transferred to Southeast Tennessee. That was my homecoming in 1995. I moved back to the mountain and ran my tool route for 18 months.
“My other jobs have included welding, welding inspection, plant supervisor, plant management, log home sales and construction, and most recently the small business owner of Smoky Mountain Wood Products.
“I partnered with a friend in an existing business in hopes that my sales knowledge and customer network would grow the business. I had been praying for this opportunity for some time when God opened the door. I knew it would not be easy, as the daily trip to the warehouse and milling facility is 77 miles each way. My health and family were my biggest reasons for taking on this venture. When you work for someone else, your future can never be certain. There seemed to be more stress as an employee than as an employer. There is more responsibility as an employer but the satisfaction of a job well done and a happy customer is worth it.”
One of Freddie’s favorite things about his job is meeting new people.
“Believe it or not, I enjoy making friends over making money. I have found if you treat people right and do all you can to help them, the Lord will provide for your needs.
“Our company specializes in eastern white pine tongue and groove, logs, beams, unfinished and prefinished hardwood flooring, and many different types of log siding. We also do custom millwork, stair treads, corbels, mantels, and basically anything wood related. We stock western red cedar beams and posts as well. If you are building a home, or simply remodeling, you cannot go wrong by checking with me first. Builders and homeowners alike have saved thousands after calling us.”
Youth sports on the mountain has long been a passion for Freddie.
“I have been involved with youth sports for the past 18 years. It was something I enjoyed and it allowed me to make many friends over the years. I started coaching before either of my children played because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.”
Freddie is married to Dana (Lockhart). The two first met soon after he moved to the mountain.
“I met Dana the first week or two after I moved to the mountain. Nothing really came about of our relationship in the beginning. She was taken and I was the new guy.
“It wasn’t long though before our paths crossed again. We dated for a little while during my junior year, but nothing serious. The funniest story we share from this time is how I could not compete with homemade chicken noodle soup! This is an inside joke that only her and I can understand.
“When I returned to the mountain in 1995 we would see each other in passing. Dana was working with my mother at Monteagle City Hall. In March of 1996, we went out on a date and little did I know my life would change forever. Our relationship grew and we were married on June 28, 1997. If you do the math, that’s 18 years and never once have I regretted it. She picks me up when I am down, laughs (sometimes) at what I call my sense of humor and is a wonderful mother to our children.
“We have two boys, Hunter who is 20, and Blane who is 15. God truly has blessed us through the years with our children. From near death experiences to triumphant victories, we have stood behind our children in all that they do.
“Hunter is currently enrolled in college and plans to continue playing baseball at Brewton-Parker College in Georgia. He was recently named the USCAA player of the week and helped lead the Tennessee Temple Crusaders to the Small College World Series where they finished fifth. He was also named to the academic All-American team for his success in the classroom. He is pursuing a degree in business management.
“Blane is our baby and he will most likely say ‘Dad I can’t believe you put that in the paper.’ He tries to underscore that statement but ultimately plays the role well when at home. He is a wonderful child with a heart for God. He is as kind- hearted and thoughtful as his Pa Bill was. He is the kind of kid that would not hurt anyone’s feelings at the expense of his own. He is an honor roll student and currently ranks in the top five of his class. Blane’s accomplishments in the classroom come while playing both varsity baseball and basketball for the Yellow Jackets. It’s a hectic lifestyle but it’s one this family chose and embraces.”
Freddie does not have much free time, but he makes the most of what he does have.
“Free time? What is that? I have very little me-time, but that is what God had in mind for this ole boy. Almost six years ago, I surrendered my life to God. I spent 36 years wondering in this world lost with no direction or guidance.
“On February 23, 2010, the Lord called me to repentance and not long after, put it on my heart to do more in the church. I knew where it was headed but decided to remodel the exterior of Highland Church and teach Sunday School. For about nine months, I could not shake the feeling that God needed more from me.
“I accepted the call to preach on January 26 of 2012. Brother Matthew Meeks helped me to grow in my young ministry. I think he saw the calling, and kind of called in sick on a Wednesday night – five minutes before the service started and said take care of it. That’s what brothers do and life has never slowed down.
“I spent 18 months at Myers Hill Church under the pastoring of Brother Dennis Rollins. God took great care of mentoring me through this church. Brother Dennis and the congregation gave me great liberty in preaching the Word whenever I was led too.
“Little did I know I would become Pastor of Harrison Chapel in October of 2014. I had been filling for two months when the church leaders and several members asked me about becoming their next pastor. I told them I didn’t think I was the one and that they needed to be looking for someone else. They disagreed and then the revelation happened. I was preaching a revival at Myers Hill with Brother Dion Black from Alabama. I had the first two nights and he would travel and preach the next three then go from there. With my two nights behind me Wednesday came.
“Brother Dion and I had never met or even spoke on the phone. When he walked in the door of the church, he came up to me and said brother you have been called to pastor that church! He said God had spoken to him and while I was too stubborn to listen, My Savior sent an earthly messenger. I went the next day to inform Harrison Chapel that I would love to be their pastor if they still wanted me. We are a Spirit-filled little church with about 60-65 faithful members on Sunday mornings. God has blessed us with some new brothers and sister in Christ and a house full of children eager to learn Gods word.
“Aside from church, my free time consists of mowing grass and watching other people fish in my ponds. I have two stocked ponds and rarely ever get to fish in them. I do love to fish, but seeing friends, family, and mostly the kids enjoy what God has given me is the greatest blessing.”
Freddie says he loves the people of Grundy County.
“When someone has a dire need this community always comes together. We can be so divided over trivial things yet when push comes to shove, we stand united. That’s what is special about Grundy County.”
Freddie says people may be surprised to learn about and believe the change God has made in his life.
“I did not live right for many years, and did not care how I treated people or what the outcome of my actions were. I believe now that each and every one of us will someday stand in judgement for our actions and lack thereof. I am proud to call myself a Christian and will stand behind God’s word until this world wraps up or He calls me home.
“You may not know it, but I am praying always for souls to be saved. When this world or our lives come to end what if the Good Book was right? What if everything your momma or grandmother or great aunt, daddy or spouse ever told you was really true? Where would you spend eternity? Believe what you want, but we serve a loving and caring God who desires to spare your soul. I love the Lord and that’s what I want people to know about me.”