The phones start ringing at 6 a.m. at T-Mac, where Blake and Cheryl Tekotte work alongside their sons-in-law and six other employees.
"They wear a lot of hats," Cheryl says of her family and staff. "In a small business, you jump in wherever you're needed."
For Cheryl, that means helping to run the business while keeping up with a growing family. With two of their three children back in Columbia, Missouri, Blake and Cheryl also have two grandkids living close by.
"I'm part-time office manager, part-time babysitter," Cheryl says with a laugh.
Blake and Cheryl are Columbians through and through. Blake was born here, and the couple raised their family here. And they've started and grown a business here twice.
"It all started with two men and a truck," Cheryl says of T-Mac, the solid waste removal-services company she owns with her husband and high school sweetheart, Blake. "And it just kept growing from there."
It was Blake's father and grandfather who started T-Mac in 1978. Blake and Cheryl, who were living in Chicago at the time, moved back to Columbia in 1980 to join the family business.
"It grew, and it grew because of the help and confidence Landmark showed us through Don Singleton," Cheryl says. "We grew as Landmark grew, and they've helped us when we needed more equipment, better trucks. They've believed in us and stood behind us and helped us financially."
Even as the business has grown, T-Mac has remained a place focused on the community and family. "Our office has had a nursery in it all the way to kids growing up," Cheryl says. "We've rescued stray dogs and found their owners. For older clientele, we take trash from their door so they don't have to walk it to the end of the driveway. We try to go that extra mile."
"It's that family feel that Cheryl says has kept them with Landmark all these years."
It's that family feel that Cheryl says has kept them with Landmark all these years. The Tekottes sold the first T-Mac, which had grown from the original two men and a truck to 35 employees and 14 trucks, to a larger corporation in late 1999/early 2000. But after nearly five years out of the business, Blake and Cheryl decided they wanted back in.
"We bumped into Don Singleton and Steve Tanzey in town, and I said, 'I've got a slogan: T-Mac is back,'" Cheryl says. "
They said, "Well, let's sit down and talk about it."
On their second go, T-Mac is once again building momentum, from just one truck, Blake and their son-in-law in 2005, to 10 employees and six trucks today.
"We started the show all over again," Cheryl says. "With Landmark's help and the help of our loan officer, Chris Widmer, the community's welcoming us back, and we're growing the business."
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