client-sucess-story-wades-food-center-incStarted in 1917, Wade’s Food Center, Inc. has evolved from a hardware and grocery store on the square in Decatur to more than a dozen grocery and hardware stores across East Tennessee and Georgia. Along with their stores, the Wade family has been a fixture in rural Tennessee since well before Willis Wade opened his first Piggly Wiggly in Decatur in 1983.

At the helm of the latest generation of Wade’s Food Center stores is Willis Wade’s daughter Tiffany Wade-Pilkey. “My favorite part about working in the grocery business is the people,” said Tiffany. “You have a lot of grateful people in a small community. All of our stores are in rural areas and we support each of the communities wholly.”

untitled-design-7Tiffany recently lead all six of their Tennessee stores through a complete lighting upgrade with the help of an energy efficiency loan from Pathway Lending and funds from the USDA, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative. The Wades found out about Pathway Lending’s loan program and the other incentives they were eligible for through energy vendor Jim Clark, who stopped by their Etowah store while visiting family.

“Jim had just completed a lighting project in South Carolina, and told my dad about the energy efficiency program,” said Tiffany.  “Right after their meeting, our project started. I have learned so much through this process – grant writing, inspections, everything.”

The only hurdle the Wades encountered during the process was their light usage hours being underestimated. “Make sure you are clear on your operating hours and how your impact funds are calculated.” Their inspection and projections process had to be repeated, and sensors installed in the store to measure light usage. “Brandon England from Pathway Lending helped us every step of the way – he helped answer a lot of my questions.”

Upgrading the lighting in their six Tennessee grocery stores will save enough energy to power more than 100 households for a year. The new lights produce less heat, which also helps the Wade’s bottom line for cooling costs. “Investing in this energy efficiency program has been worth every penny. Basically by the time the project is done, you’ve already paid for it.”


What’s next? The Wades are already looking at upgrading the lighting in their Georgia locations, and have plans to install a cool roof for the Decatur store.  Pathway Lending is proud to help Wade’s Food Center, Inc. invest in improving the community their family has called home for generations.


For more information about Energy Efficiency Loans and other programs available in Tennessee, visit our Energy Efficiency Resources page or contact Brandon England at