Green helpers in Cleveland: Tennessee Automation Services assists others in saving energy

Green helpers in Cleveland: Tennessee Automation Services assists others in saving energy

December 20th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in Business Around the Region

Flanking an automatic control panel with various electric motors, David Kennedy, left, of Tennessee Automation Services, and Jamey Steffner, with Electric Motor Sales, talk about their energy-saving companies at the Cleveland Bradley Innovation Center.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A new company here hopes to help other businesses go green in 2012.

Tennessee Automation Services already was moved in and ready for business Friday when the Energy Center opened. The center is a wing of the Cleveland/Bradley Business Incubator that is devoted to startup businesses focused on environmental and energy savings.

Tennessee Automation Services builds automatic control panels.

"Anything industrial that has machines that run, control panels are designed to make them more efficient, to operate automatically only when they are needed," company founder Sandi Kennedy said.

"Everything we have is custom made," she said. "Programs are written and designed for this."

Kennedy said the business has no employees yet.

"My husband, my son and his friend are all coming on board," she said. "But right now I can't pay them. But I don't get paid either," she said, laughing.

The company is new, but the family has 30 years experience in the business, she said. The family lives in Chattanooga but chose the incubator here because their son attends Cleveland State Community College.

David Kennedy, Sandi's husband, said "they go out of their way for us here. It's unbelievable."

Sandi Kennedy said, "You know how everybody talks about having a family business? My goal is for my company to always be family oriented. If you need to run out to take someone to the doctor or something, that would be OK."

She said Tennessee Automation Services is making contact with potential clients now, and the business is partnering with Chattanooga-based Electric Motor Sales. Electric motors are a critical component of the control panels, she said.

A decade ago, manually operated starter switches turned most industrial machinery on and off, said Jamey Steffner of Electric Motor Sales.

"You hear green in everything you do now," he said, making automation more vital.

David Cooper, application engineer with Electric Motor Sales, said automation is a scary word for some people.

To some, automation means lost jobs, he said. But automation helps production be faster, more efficient and energy and money saving, creating opportunities for more jobs, Cooper said.

Electric Motor Sales is on Central Avenue in Chattanooga with branches in Cleveland, Dalton and Cartersville, Ga.

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at or 423-314-1029.