The Benton name -- as in Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams in Vonore -- is on the menus of some of the nicest restaurants in the United States.
Company owner Allan Benton brought his message of the value of hard work and commitment to quality to those of like-mind recently when he was the guest at the open house of the new offices of LeConte Wealth Management.
“Some of the fanciest restaurants in the country have our name on their menu,” said Benton. “”If they could see the pathetic, hole-in-the-wall building we run out of, they would take our name off the menu,” he said with a laugh.
Success comes, Benton said, because, “we have people who are dedicated, and we are committed to making a world-class product.”
LeConte Wealth Management held an open house for friends, customers and the community to celebrate their new office space at 703 William Blount Drive. The morning get-together was held June 17 and about 25 folks from throughout the business community turned out.
Benton grew up in Scott County, Va., and his family cured ham when he was growing up. In 1973, he was a guidance counselor with a freshly-earned master’s degree and a desire to change jobs. “I saw the salary schedule and realized I had made a grave career mistake,” he said.
Albert Hicks, a farmer who ran the business from 1947 to 1973, had quit in May of that year. Benton said he didn’t know much about the meat business, but he was confident he could do it. “Mr. Hicks leased me that old building, and I jumped in and started making ham and bacon -- me and one more fellow. We just figured it out together.”
Benton said he knows the value of asking questions. “I wrote universities all over the country trying to figure out more, and I listened to what Albert said. I tried to bring what the universities were telling, what he was saying together,” he said.
Andy Oakes, financial planner with LeConte Wealth Management, said the guests at their open house at the new office were enthralled with Benton’s remarks.
“Allan Benton is a very smart man, and he had a few very tried-and-true bits of wisdom,” Oakes said. “As complicated as business success can seem, Allan put it simply: Do business with good people and work hard. He had a few axioms that applied to everybody in that room.”
Oakes said breakfast was a success. “We really enjoyed hosting it and hope we get to do something like that again soon,” he said. “I know one of the reasons Kevin and Hoy made the investment in this office was so we could have space to do these kinds of things.”
Kevin Painter, co-founder and managing partner, said the business purchased the former Dwight Price Realty office in November of 2010.
“We’ve been in about six months. Our business has grown, and we’ve expanded by hiring some staff and needed more space,” he said. “It afforded all the things we needed to expand our business and grow into the future.”
Painter said the building is about 4,200 square feet. “We have that great conference room in the middle,” he said. “We’ve used it for client events and educational seminars and also have community events like we did for Allan Benton and the Chamber VIP event.”
Benton said that success doesn’t always mean following the latest-greatest trend. He said he isn’t doing anything new when he smokes and ages his bacon for customers. “Your grandparents probably did it just the same way,” he said.
Benton said his company has 10 employees, and they are each vital to the overall success. “This does not happen because of one person. It is a team effort,” he said.