TN Small Business Jobs Opportunity Fund

This revolving fund provides loans to businesses anywhere in Tennessee. This public-private collaboration between the State of Tennessee, private financial institutions, and Pathway Lending brings together capital resources to maximize statewide impacts for job creation and business expansion.

Inherited Tenacity Drives 4th Generation
at Oldest Continuously Operating
Sock Mill in America

client profile:

Crescent Sock Company is a 116-year-old sock mill in rural Niota, Tennessee. Opened to create jobs in this small community, it is currently managed by the fourth generation of the founder. Cathy Allen has taken on the role of CEO and is assisted by her sister, Sandra Boyd. More than a century after opening, maintaining quality jobs for their family of employees is still their top priority.

Started by their great-grandfather in 1902, Crescent Sock Company’s strategic location near the train depot was perfect for receiving raw materials and distributing finished goods. Their grandfather kept production going through The Great Depression and World War II, even petitioning the War Production Board to maintain their cotton allocation to keep the mill running.

Allen and Boyd’s father, William “Bill” Burn, was at the helm in 1966 when an overnight fire burned the original mill to the ground, taking the dye house, finishing department, and boiler room with it. With the help of the community, however, production was up and running in makeshift quarters in a neighboring mill, and Crescent never missed a single shipment.

Bill was quoted as saying “We were burned out of business, but were too stubborn to know it.”

That same stubborn commitment to success is something Allen and Boyd have in common. Management changes and losing a substantial contract severely impacted cash flow, and made securing a traditional bank loan difficult despite the company’s long history.

“We’re a cyclical business,” said Allen. “When we’re buying raw materials and going into production, our cash reserves get low.” A longtime banking acquaintance referred Crescent to Pathway Lending. Crescent didn’t just get financial support; Pathway Lending also provided their team a Business Advisor. “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard we’d be getting hands-on help along with our loan,” said Allen.

“But Bob Lancaster has been a great mentor. He really makes you think.”

More than a century after opening, quality jobs remain the company’s number one priority. “Making the highest quality product at the best price is our focus, but that’s not our legacy,” said Boyd.

“Daddy knew every employee by name. Our legacy is treating our employees like family.” “To us, our relationships with clients, vendors, and employees mean everything,” said Allen. “And now, Pathway is another one of our ‘family’ relationships.”

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