Friend to the American Guide, Ben Collins, is the Brand and Digital Strategist at the venerable and innovative L. C. King Manufacturing Company, makers of Pointer Brand workwear. As L. C. King proudly manufactures all their products in the U. S. of A., we approached Ben about sending a dispatch on industry in Pointer’s hometown of Bristol. 

Not only did he send in the fantastic post that follows, but Pointer is generously supporting American Guide Week by offering 15% off purchases on their website with the code “americanguide”. Visit Pointer at and check out Ben’s post for Field Assignment #10 - Products and Manufacturing/Industry:

These are my unequivocally unbiased views about the fair twin city of Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia. Written by Ben Collins,

What are the principal factories in your district?

The L. C. King Manufacturing Company, of course, makers of denim and workwear since 1913 in downtown Bristol, Tennessee. There is also a pharmaceutical company which was once called King Pharmaceuticals and is now owned by Pfizer. We have a globally successful factory in Virginia called Bristol Compressors. There are a few successful metal-related factories including Tri-City Aluminum Extrusion, diamond plate manufacturing by Sturdy-Lite, and others.

What are the principal industries and industrial products?

Tourism is very important to the city with Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion annually, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (open in 2014), the Appalachian Cultural Music Association, Bristol Motor Speedway, Antique Automobile Club of America, some of the best trout fishing east of the Mississippi.

Bristol has an attractive downtown (by far the most impressive in the region, of course) with a variety of stimulating shopping and dining opportunities. Very sophisticated mens’ haberdasheries and ladies’ clothing shops alongside burger joints, soul food, farm-to-table Wednesdays and weekly wine tastings.

As mentioned before, the manufacture of metal products appears to be a successful industry here.  Also, industrial recycling has become a sector with for-profit metal, asphalt, and even concrete recycling occurring.

We have a top notch Wellmont medical facility called Bristol Regional Medical Center, which is host to advanced medical technology and staff as well as nearby Medical Schools.  King University in Bristol recently began the development of a medical program.

Are there any commercial articles manufactured by hand?

We have again to mention the L. C. King Manufacturing Company; sellers, distributors, and exporters of fine workwear products - perhaps the finest known in the whole of the United States. Also made here are delicious candies including hand rolled peppermint by the Ratliff family. A commercially successful and also tasty snack is made on the Virginia side of town - Shearer’s potato chips.  Bristol has been known also for producing some high quality hand made stringed instruments.  Additionally, modern, high-quality custom furniture is made right in downtown at Mooska.

Are there important mines or quarries in your district? Give types.

In the district, yes, of course coal is a common mineral in the Appalachian region.  Only historically has Bristol been a resource for iron and more distantly, flint.

What are the general agricultural products and specialties of your district?

There is a thriving economy among our local agricultural community and the ever increasing hunger for fresh goods by today’s consumer. Perhaps best known for our heirloom tomatoes (their season is anticipated eagerly), the incredible array of meats is possibly the most impressive cultivated product.  You can find lamb, pork, all cuts of steak, sausage, goat, even Moroccan Spiced chorizo. On a large scale, however, corn and hay production (for feeding cattle) are the primary uses of land by farmers.

What are other important products (Ex. Logs, fur, beef, wool)

Batteries, beauty products, moonshine, beer, art.

When may interesting processes, such as fruit picking and packing, log-rolling and the like be witnessed?

A new winery has appeared east of Bristol that now has a press annually.  At the Bristol Train Station downtown, there are frequently trains coming to this important junction between the rail systems of two states. There are corn and other harvests done around September. No log-rolling these days, though during the summer we have the South Holston Lake cleanup.

Images (top to bottom, left to right):
Bristol resident (Tammy Mercure);
Pointer factory (Nicole Poyo);
Bristol resident (Tammy Mercure);
The Defibulators at the 2013 Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion (Photo director: Lee Jones);
Wall map (Tammy Mercure).

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Ben Collins is a 20 year Bristol Resident, originally from North Florida. He’s an employee of the L. C. King Manufacturing Company and volunteer on the Bristol Main Street Board of Directors. Find L.C. King’s Pointer Brand workwear online at, follow them on Tumblr at, like them on Facebook at, and follow them on Twitter (@pointerbrand) and Instagram (pointerbrand).