NEWS: Company transitions

Michael Pelehach, new CEO of Braxton-Bragg Corp. with the company's co-founder Doug Slocum.

KNOXVILLE, TN - Michael Pelehach took the helm as president of Braxton-Bragg Corp. on April 17, and began managing the distributor of stone-industry products when co-founder Doug Slocum retired.

Pelehach comes to Braxton-Bragg with 27 years of experience in the power transmission industry. He grew up in Ohio and attended Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH. Pelehach worked for several years in the Chicago area before moving to Tennessee eight years ago to work for Renold Jeffrey Co., which manufactures industrial chains in Morristown.

In addition to a new CEO, Braxton-Bragg recently made other employee changes and developed some new positions to meet the changing needs of the stone industry. Steve Bussell has worked at Braxton-Bragg in sales and customer service for eight years, and in November 2005 he became the company's sales manager to coordinate the work of its eight sales representatives. Originally from Cumberland Gap, TN, Bussell worked in construction and with commercial glass for 13 years before joining Braxton-Bragg.

Also, Matt Maples was hired as the company's automated tooling specialist in January 2006. Maples was already working with Braxton-Bragg as part of the sales team, coming from a background in construction. In preparation for his new position, Maples trained with several manufacturers on troubleshooting issues that occur with polishing. Though he still works in sales, his position as automated tooling specialist allows him to focus on the up-and-coming in-line machines and help troubleshoot any problems that may occur.

As part of this work, Maples has been involved with developing a new Braxton-Bragg catalog of in-line machinery, which will come out in June.

Ed Mink and Sam Parker have worked in the company's sales department for a few years, and in 2004, they began training for the transition to their focus on CNC tooling.

In 2005, the first full year this division was in operation, they went from zero to $1 million in CNC sales, an indication of how quickly this area is expanding, and how well Braxton-Bragg is keeping up with this new technology.

Braxton-Bragg also recently added Gerald Ruiz to the sales team. Ruiz, who is originally from Puerto Rico, is fluent in Spanish, so he handles the many Spanish calls that come into the company.

Ruiz has lived in Knoxville, TN, since 2002, and joined Braxton-Bragg in February. He worked in the flooring business before, so he trained at the National Training Institute for Stone and Masonry Trades in preparation for his job.

James Sykes, Braxton-Bragg's director of warehousing since January, has many years of experience in manufacturing distribution in the Southeast, and he is looking forward to being a part of this company as well.

Sykes oversees a total of 65,000 square feet of warehouse space in two locations, 24 employees, tool repair services and more than 5,000 products for distribution.

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