East Tennessee small business stays invested in community after 24 years

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Honoring Black History

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee businessman has been making a big mark on his community. The location of his business is intentional.

Shanklin and Sons opened more than 20 years ago in a predominantly black community in Knoxville. Since then the owner, Frank Shanklin Jr., has been working to build a lasting legacy reaching beyond the walls of the showroom.

“It was a conscious decision that we made, to be a part — really integrate and be part of this community. And it’s important for young Black males and females, to see someone who looks like them being successful in business,” Shanklin said.

Shanklin started the business with his father and brother in 1996. Over time, they pursued other ventures and Shanklin became the sole owner and operator. Over the years, the company has done the flooring for many large and prominent buildings in the Knoxville area.

“We’ve been very fortunate to where we’ve done several schools. We did the East Tennessee Historical Center downtown that was built. We did the Regal Cinema downtown which is the pride and joy of Gay Street,” Shanklin said.

But, Shanklin said he strives to be an example and give back to the community that brought him his success.

These days, he’s focused on making his mark on the people and places that make East Knoxville great. When he’s not reading blueprints, he’s giving his time to the younger generation through mentoring programs and coaching sports.

Shanklin’s most recent act of service to his community is a job that is close to his heart.

With his business expertise and his background he helped restore a Knoxville landmark that he credits for his success.

As the chair of the building and grounds committee for Knoxville College, Shanklin has been tasked with overseeing the landscaping and restoration projects in the building.

“I never thought when I was a student there that I would be so involved in bringing back the institution to its luster,” he said.

Shanklin is a Knoxville College graduate. He said he wouldn’t be where he is today if not for his experience at that school. It introduced him to East Knoxville, and he never left.

It’s no secret the school has struggled to survive over the years, but Shanklin is now a part of its rebirth. He’s also on the Board of Trustees for the school. It’s a project that brings everything full circle for him.

“It’s the most gratifying thing I could ever do. When you have the ability and able to give back, you need to do it. You just need to do it,” Shanklin said.

Whether it’s the floors you walk on in a Knoxville building, or the storefront you pass while driving down Magnolia, Shanklin and Sons is making sure their presence is known and felt.

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