In business since 1891, S.B. White Company, Inc. is one of the oldest incorporated firms still doing business here in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Samuel B. White opened his first shop for sheet metal work on the main block of Main Street over a retail store in 1891. In 1924, he moved to Spring Street just back of the old yellow Hamilton Bank Building. This move saw him branch out into the retail house wares field. He not only had metal goods to sell, but pans, lard cans, kettles, dippers, and the like, but he also operated the city’s only chinaware store. About a year later, he moved to the corner of South Roan and Jobe Streets, where King’s Inc. later had an annex to its department store. Subsequently, he was located on Spring at Jobe Street. Again the shop was located on the second floor. His retail venture this time, in addition to house wares, was kitchen ranges and other types of stoves. “He bought kitchen ranges by the carload,” a former employee said. The rear portion of the building was for receiving and storing sheet metal stock.
The work performed in the shop was chiefly sheet metal work for roofing, guttering, spouting, metal kitchen, and farm utensils. His products included butter cans to hold three to five pounds of butter, a popular item. The container was handy for marketing butter to stores.
Nowadays the firm is one of the premier mechanical contractors in the region installing all types of heating and air conditioning systems and plumbing in commercial buildings including hospitals and medical facilities, churches, schools, office buildings, industrial plants, retail and wholesale locations, government buildings, and residences.
The business was purchased by H.C. Dance in 1946. The present business was incorporated in 1956 with Mrs. Dance, President, and Jess B. McKinney, Vice President and General Manager. At that time it was located at 331 W. Walnut Street. In 1961, the company built a new corporate headquarters at 609 W. Walnut Street and acquired Cary Plumbing Company. That allowed the company to enhance its business by now being able to offer plumbing and mechanical piping. The business quickly outgrew its new building at 609 W. Walnut and the sheet metal shop was relocated back to 331 W. Walnut in 1964. In 1972, the company purchased the old Coca-Cola building in downtown Johnson City and combined the offices, sheet metal shop, and plumbing shop in its current location. R. Wayne McKinney succeeded his father as Vice President and General Manager in 1984. In 2005, David McKinney was promoted to Vice President and General Manager starting a third generation of family leadership.