C. B. Ragland
Company was founded in 1919 by Mr. Charles Burton Ragland and was located
on Second Avenue South near the Shelby Street Bridge. One year after
its beginning, the number of employees comprising the entire company
was seven, including Mr. C. B. Ragland himself. By 2001 the company payroll
totaled approximately 230 people.
When the great
flood of December 1926 and January 1927 paralyzed the business district
of lower Broad Street and the surrounding area, C. B. Ragland
was under approximately eight feet of water - up to the awning over the
warehouse doors, later in the year the company moved into its new building
at 300 Second Avenue South, where the operation continued until February
1959. Seeking more modern facilities to facilitate the use of larger
distribution trucks, the company moved to Thompson Lane where it operated
grocery business until October 2002. In 2002, C.B. Ragland sold the
grocery business to concentrate on Real Estate, through its wholly owned
subsidiary Colonial Realty, and trucking through CBR Transportation.
Before the days
of truck deliveries, groceries were shipped by riverboats to towns along
the Cumberland River, where retailers would pick up their
merchandise. Before the era of packaging, vinegar was bought in wooden
barrels, then repackaged into fruit jars to be sold to the stores.
Dried beans were bought and sold in 100 pound bags and dispensed by the
from a bag or barrel in the retail store. Crackers were also bought
in bulk and sold likewise.
The only cheese
available was packed in round wooden boxes weighing approximately 25
pounds or in oblong wooden boxes weighing about 14
pounds. In the
days before adequate refrigeration, the only meat available was cured
salt pork and hog jowls came in by truck loads. Until about 1957
the company carried in stock such items as metal roofing, fencing, barbed
twine, and wooden kegs of nails.
C. B. Ragland
was the first local wholesale grocery to offer frozen food to retail
stores and in 1959 was the first wholesale grocery
company in Tennessee to install a computer. Also, the company was
grocery in the country to have 100% computerized ordering from
its customers. In 1959 when C.B. Ragland moved into the new facility
on Thompson Lane,
the company maintained the Second Avenue location to offer merchandise
on a self-service cash and carry basis. The perishable departments
produce, frozen food, and dairy remained at the location also.
The new warehouse
originally covered 137,000 square feet and was designed to hold 300,000
cases of food or six million pounds. It
on a sixteen acre tract of land that has railroad facilities
to accommodate the unloading of boxcars within the warehouse itself.
only dry groceries at first but as time progressed the refrigerated
departments were moved to the new location, which necessitated
the additions of the
freezers and coolers. The Institutional Department was also added;
this division serviced accounts other than grocery stores. This
discontinued in 1975. Over the years there have been three additions
to the warehouse, plus the building of the Retail Service Center.
presently consist of approximately 250,000 square feet.
Inc., was a subsidiary of C. B. Ragland Company and had its origin in
1947, building all types of wooden store
counters, check-out stands, etc. At this time it was a department
of C. B. Ragland known as Store Engineering. It officially
Inc. 1955, stocking refrigerated equipment and all types of
are use commercially. Fixturcraft was sold in 1991 and the
building was torn down. The Colonial Coffee Company was also a subsidiary
its beginning in 1948. Green coffee was purchased, then roasted
and packaged. The company was discontinued in 1980 and another
to continue the roasting and packaging of Colonial Coffee for
C. B. Ragland Company.
the company began selling tires they were stocked within the dry grocery
but as the demand grew it became
in 1950 to its own quarters at 217 Second Avenue South. The
Tire Department was shut down in 1994. At that same time
the company’s Colonial Realty
Company subsidiary began to refurbish its downtown properties
to maximize the value of its real estate portfolio.
early 1995, Colonial renovated 300 Second Avenue South into The Music
City Mix Factory,
one of the largest mixed
in the southeast. Later that year, Colonial began the renovation
of 101 Molloy into warehouse and office space for XO Communications
NextLink). Over the next two years, XO expanded into 105
Molloy. MCI also opened an office in the development at
100 Franklin Street. In 1997, Colonial converted the old tire
217 Second Avenue
South into Have a Nice Day Café.
the closing of C.B. Ragland’s grocery operations in 2002, Colonial
Realty continued to grow and now focuses on both management
and redevelopment of company owned properties as well as third party
fee management and development.
Colonial Realty applies the same philosophies as C.B.
Ragland did in the grocery business to its business.
C. B. Ragland
Company has always been known for its family atmosphere and closeness
between employer and employees.
Over the years
there have been
many members of the same family (as many as four or
five) employed with the company at the same time.
his welcoming address to a group of approximately 1,000 people who visited
facility at the Grand
on March 01,
made the following statement, “Our people are still our greatest
asset. It is our grand, loyal staff of employees, many of them veterans
of more than twenty-five years of service with us, who will make all of
it work successfully.” Eighty Four years after
the founding of the company, the loyal staff of employees
are still endeavoring to make it
Mr. C. B. Ragland
died in 1937 and upon his death, the eldest son, Charles S. Ragland,
assumed the presidency
until April 1961, at which time James B. Ragland,
the youngest son, was elected
The middle son,
Julian P. Ragland, served as a director of the company from 1947 and
Groceries until 1961 at which time he moved to
May 1981, J. Michael
Hayes was elevated to the presidency with Mr. Ragland becoming Chairman
of the Board of
Mr. James B. Ragland
(Mr. Jimmy) died August 1991. February 1995 J. Michael Hayes became
CEO and Arthur
Jr. was hired
mission and goals seem just as clear as they were in 1919. “Take
care of your customers and they in turn
will take care of you.”
© C.B. Ragland Co. 2003