Smack-dab in the middle of Gallatin, Tenn., sits the Rich’s manufacturing plant that every year turns out tons of delicious Byron’s meat products, from beef brisket to Byron’s signature hand-pulled, hickory-smoked, pork BBQ.
Just as they have each spring for the previous nine years, this past April Rich’s associates in Gallatin came together once again for an annual beautification ritual known as “Bubba’s Earth Day.” The activity coincides with worldwide Earth Day events traditionally held every April 22 – the date marking the anniversary of the birth in 1970 of the modern environmental movement.
Everyone at Rich’s in Gallatin has a role in getting ready for Bubba’s Earth Day, which was conceived during a 2002 plant tour by Rich Products Corporation Vice Chairman Melinda R. Rich and Chairman Robert E. (Bob) Rich Jr., who is affectionately called “Bubba” by their grandchildren. Bob suggested an Earth Day volunteer project for the plant, to spruce up the grounds and protect the usually pristine waters of Town Creek, a shallow, 20-foot-wide stream that runs behind the plant on its meandering way to Old Hickory Lake, a few miles beyond the city limits. The entire creek, including the 100-foot stretch that flows through the Rich’s property, is home to an abundance of wildlife, and Rich’s personnel regularly take advantage of the nearby picnic tables to enjoy the scenery while on their lunch breaks.
When the 11th annual Bubba’s Earth Day arrived this year Rich’s associates in Gallatin donned gardening gloves, outdoor boots and even some waders before taking aim on any refuse that had found its way onto the grounds or into the creek.
By day’s end, the Gallatin team’s “scavenger hunt” had collected more than 500 pounds of trash and debris – everything from beverage cans and plastic containers to sections of water hose and even large sheets of metal – which city workers then hauled away.
At the same time, some of the Rich’s crew were busy placing new shrubs, ferns and ornamental flower beds around the property. They also planted a new dogwood tree in a hallowed spot near the associate entrance. At the base of the nearly 8-foot-tall dogwood is a plaque with an inscription memorializing company founder Robert E. Rich Sr. (1913-2006).
“Without his innovative, forward thinking, all that we now do in Gallatin would not be possible,” said Charles Crutchfield, the veteran plant manager who has been the point man for the yearly Bubba’s Earth Day operation since day one. “The newly planted dogwood tree honors our founder and reminds us why we are here.”
Like Crutchfield, approximately two dozen other Rich’s associates have participated in Bubba’s Earth Day for 10 straight years. Crutchfield says company undertakings like its Earth Day initiative go beyond mere food manufacturing and reflect The Rich Promise “to treat our customers, our associates and our communities the same way, like family.”
“Sure, we’re making BBQ, but our presence is much bigger than that. We’re repaying a public that has given so much to us – that’s just the way we are,” Crutchfield stated. “What stands out more than anything is that the Gallatin plant has been able to give back to the community every year, while our associates are getting together and enjoying themselves through this team effort.”