County fair support winner announced

Staff Reports • Updated Aug 20, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Wilson County Promotions announced Thursday that Tony Bates will be the recipient of the 2016 Mike Baker Friend and Supporter of the Fair Award.

The award will be presented Tuesday at 7:20 p.m., prior to the Oak Ridge Boys concert in the covered arena of the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.  

This annual award recognizes business professionals in Wilson County who have gone above and beyond in their support of the annual Wilson County Fair. The award is given in memory of Mike Baker, longtime chairman of the fair’s Great Giveaway committee. 

Bates is the owner of Bates Ford and Tony Bates Equipment. He is a longtime local of Wilson County and graduated from Mt. Juliet High School in 1982. He has worked in the automobile industry all of his life, beginning at his father’s Nashville tire business, B & F Tire Co. Later, he worked at his uncle’s gas station, Melvin’s Texaco, in Mt Juliet. In 1988, he began selling automobiles at Jim Reed Chevrolet in Nashville. He was successful and named salesman of the month the second month he worked there.  

In 1990, he accepted the position of used car manager at Burchett Ford in Lebanon. He was a trusted employee of Glenn Burchett, another Mike Baker Award recipient, and he became a partner and full manager of the business in 1994. In 2007, Bates bought out Burchett’s interest, and the dealership was renamed “Bates Ford” in 2009.

Bates expanded his business in 2013 adding Tony Bates Equipment, a Mahindra and Massey Ferguson tractor dealership with locations in Lebanon and Murfreesboro. Bates employs more than 75 people in Wilson and Rutherford counties. He may be best known for his saying featured on Nashville television stations stating “we’ll trade for anything that don’t eat.” He came up with the phrase himself as a business motto over the years.

Bates has been an active supporter of the Wilson County Fair. His Ford dealership has been a sponsor of the Great Giveaway for more than 30 years. 

In 2008, Bates became the primary sponsor of the country and gospel music concerts at the fair. 

“I’m in business because of the community. It’s my responsibility to give back,” Bates said. 

In addition to his support of the Wilson County Fair, Bates supports Joseph’s Storehouse food ministry in Lebanon.  

Joseph’s Storehouse is a faith-based food ministry that began in 1999 distributing food to 22 families and has grown to provide assistance to an average of 500 Wilson County families per month, in addition to providing assistance to other nonprofit agencies. 

The organization distributes more than $100,000 worth of food, toiletries and household items monthly. The food program targets low-income, disabled and elderly individuals, as well as single parents.

Bates and his wife, Kim, a Mt. Juliet native, have three children, Laura, Nikki and Tyler Bates. All three children are graduates of Wilson Central High School. 

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