Veteran re-opens family business in Sweetwater

Veteran Daniel McCollum, pictured with his grandmother Margaret, has re-opened the family cabinet shop in Sweetwater and hopes to use it as a tool to help other veterans.

A local veteran is reviving his great-grandfather’s cabinet shop and looking to help other veterans along the way.

Daniel McCollum is a Marine who lives in Maryville but his grandfather, the late Dick Cleveland, was well known throughout Sweetwater and Monroe County. His company, Cleveland Manufacturing Company (CMC), still runs today. And, McCollum’s great-grandfather, Kenneth, owned and operated a cabinet shop in Sweetwater 40 years ago.

McCollum is starting that cabinet shop back up in its previous location behind Cleveland Manufacturing. The shop’s name is Restoration Woodworks.

“The intention is to help rehabilitate veterans,” he said.

McCollum plans to employ veterans at the shop and hopes to have the help of the federal government through VA grants.

“There is a lot of red tape,” he concedes.

But McCollum remains hopeful his plan will come to fruition.

It is possible that some of the veterans will stay and work with McCollum while others might go on to find other jobs with the new skills they have learned.

Family is very important to him. McCollum’s grandfather on his father’s side, Beryl McCollum, also served in the Marines.

“He died before I was born, so I learned about him from my family,” McCollum said. “I found out after I was in the Marines that not only did he fight in Iwo Jima, but was on Guadalcanal as well, though not the initial assault.”

Daniel McCollum served eight years in the Corps, first active and then reserve. He contracted in the Middle East during Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Enduring Freedom supporting convoy movements into the Northern Iraqi war zone and force protection of sensitive items and personnel.

“I was about to sign on with a more well-known agency, but I got a message from NNSA with a job offer at Y12,” he said. “I spent the rest of my time in government service in protective force. I found out when I was working out there that both my grandfather McCollum and grandmother worked there as well during the war.”

His grandmother was one of the famed “calutron girls.”

Early on, McCollum’s family made a great impression on him and he is taking their values and putting them to use to help others.

“I grew up in the house that my great-grandad Cleveland built. Grew up next to the shop watching skilled craftsmen at work,” McCollum recalls. “Getting to work with them at CMC and SMP from age 11-12 until I enlisted in the Marines. I always thought I could never do anything like these guys. Their work was so good. His son, my granddad, Dick (Cleveland), filled the void as a dad and role model, was and is my hero to this day.”

McCollum is grateful for what he learned from his family.

“So to come around full circle, not of my own design-it is very humbling because I have not forgotten what those men were capable of, far beyond my capacity to create,” he said. “So if I can use it to help others I will. We are just starting the conversation with VA, but I’m already beginning the search for vets who need us as much as we need them.”

For more information about Restoration Woodworks, call 865-228-3342 or visit the shop’s Facebook page.

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