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All About Tennessee's Largest Manufacturing Companies & Latest Trends

Posted by IndustrySelect on Friday, January 22, 2021


Above: Assembly line at Nissan's Smyrna plant. Photo Credit: Alan Poizner/ The Tennesseean

Tennessee’s competitive labor costs, solid infrastructure and favorable business environment continue to draw manufacturers to the state. The state was recently ranked fifth in the nation for its business climate by the International Economic Development Council (IDEC), and with major strongholds in the transportation equipment, food processing and machinery industries, Tennessee remains a top destination to do business.

Today, we’re focusing on the latest trends in Tennessee’s diverse manufacturing sector and exploring the ten largest manufacturing companies in the Volunteer State.

Looking to reach decision makers in the industrial world? Get a live database of industrial contacts, built exactly for what you're selling IndustrySelect gives you live access to detailed information on 460,000 U.S. industrial companies and one million executives. Learn more.

According to data collected by MNI, compiler of the industrial information that powers IndustrySelect, Tennessee is currently home to 7,668 manufacturers employing 400,207 workers. These include some leading companies in the automotive, food processing and industrial machinery industries, which we’ll dive into in a moment. But first, here are some key statistics on the Tennessee’s manufacturing sector based on data collected by MNI.

The Latest Facts on Tennessee’s Manufacturing Sector

According to MNI, Memphis is Tennessee’s largest city based on industrial employment, home to 45,599 workers. This is followed by Nashville with 336,813 and Chattanooga with 24,155 workers.

Read more: Top Manufacturing Cities in the U.S.

Other top cities in Tennessee include

• Knoxville (18,734 jobs)
• Smyrna (11,648 jobs)
• Jackson (9,691 jobs)
• Morristown (9,212 jobs)
• Kingsport (8,977 jobs)

Shelby County is Tennessee’s largest in terms of industrial jobs, home to 54,220 workers. This is followed by Davidson County (42,558), Hamilton (30,381), Rutherford (26,288) and Knox (20,299).

Taking a look at the state’s top industries, transportation equipment manufacturing ranks as the state’s largest industrial sector based on number of jobs, employing 55,563. Second-ranked fabricated metal products ranks second with 42,953 jobs, while third-ranked food processing accounts for 41,450. This is followed by rubber & plastics manufacturing, with 36,908 jobs and industrial machinery, with 36,849.

IndustrySelect’s database of 460,000 U.S. industrial companies, contains 24,035 executive contacts currently associated with Tennessee’s 7,600+ manufacturing companies. These include 2,811 presidents, 2,314 owners and partners; 1,577 vice-presidents and 1,330 sales, marketing and purchasing executives.

Other facts to know about Tennessee manufacturers, based on IndustrySelect’s advanced criteria available to subscribers, include ownership, distribution and other trend. Let’s take a look:

• 2% of Tennessee manufacturers are women-owned
• 1% are minority-owned
• 12% are publicly-owned companies
• 12% import raw materials
• 23% distribute their products internationally

 Tennessee is home to a number of major companies in the food processing, pharmaceutical and transportation equipment industries. Next, we’ll take a look at the state’s top companies.

Top 10 Manufacturing Companies in Tennessee

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC8,200NashvilleTN
Nissan North America, Inc.8,000SmyrnaTN
Eastman Chemical Co.7,000KingsportTN
Consolidated Nuclear Security4,500Oak RidgeTN
DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc.4,428MaryvilleTN
McKee Foods Corp.3,500CollegedaleTN
Electrolux Major Appliances2,800SpringfieldTN
Carrier Global Corp.2,500ColliervilleTN
Nissan North America, Inc.2,500FranklinTN
Volkswagen Group of America 2,500ChattanoogaTN

About the Top 10 Manufacturing Companies in Tennessee

1. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operation (Nashville, TN) 

Founded in 1931, Bridgestone is a Japan-based multinational auto supplier. The Nashville location serves as the company’s U.S. headquarters and produces commercial & industrial automotive tires & rubber inner tubes. Employing 8,200, Bridgestone is Tennessee’s largest industrial employer.

2. Nissan North America (Smyrna, TN) 

Another major player in the automotive industry, Nissan’s Smyrna plant ranks among the largest and most productive in the U.S with 8,000 employees. Founded in 1983, Nissan produces 640,000 vehicles per year, manufacturing well-known brands such as the Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Rogue and Nissan LEAF.

3. Eastman Chemical Co. (Kingsport, TN) 

Founded in 1920 by George Eastman, Eastman Chemical’s Kingsport plant is a major producer of industrial chemicals and plastic resins, including materials such as Durastar, Collolyn and Plastolyn. Eastman Chemical is Tennessee’s third-largest industrial employer, home to 7,000 workers.

4. Consolidated Nuclear Security (Oak Ridge, TN) 

Consolidated Nuclear Security produces nuclear weapons & components at this 4,500-employee facility in Oak Ridge.

5. DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee (Maryville, TN) 

Ranking fifth in our list of top industrial employers, DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee’s Maryville location is one of two in the state. This 4,428-employee facility produces automotive electronics, including automotive starters, alternators, electronic parts, instrument clusters and body electronics for Toyota and other automakers.

6. McKee Foods Corp. (Collegedale, TN) 

McKee Foods is a food processing company that produces well known treats such as Little Debbie snack cakes and Drake’s Devil Dogs. McKee’s Tennessee facility made the news in March 2020, when it announced plans to expand its Collegedale facility and add 482 jobs. Mckee ranks as the state’s fourth-largest industrial employer, home to 3,500 jobs.

7. Electrolux Major Appliances (Springfield, TN) 

Electrolux is a world producer of home goods and appliances, selling roughly 60 million household products in 120 different markets globally every year. The company’s Tennessee plant focuses on electric and gas ranges and employs 2,800.

8. Carrier Global Corp. (Collierville, TN) 

Another major appliance producer, Carrier Global Corp makes heating and air conditioning units at this 2,500-employee facility. The company was founded by Willis Carrier in 1915, following his invention of modern air conditioning in 1902.

9. Nissan North America (Franklin, TN)

Nissan’s Franklin location operates as its North American headquarters, home to 2,500 employees. The Franklin site produces cars, trucks, forklifts and automotive parts.

10. Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operation (Chattanooga, TN)

Further demonstrating Tennessee’s stronghold in the transportation equipment industry, Germany-based automaker Volkswagen secured this major operation in Chattanooga in 2011, where the company has recently produced its one-millionth vehicle. 2,500 employees work at this facility, making Volkswagen Passats, Atlas and more recently the Atlas Cross Sport.

Interested in other states? Browse all of our state news here.

Looking for Industrial Sales Leads in Tennessee?

For those looking to do business with manufacturers, IndustrySelect’s database of 460,000 U.S. manufacturers is a top resource for both developing and researching sales leads in the manufacturing sector. An IndustrySelect subscription can put you on a first-name basis with Tennessee’s 7,600 industrial companies and 24,000 executives. Subscribers can select up to 30 data points on any manufacturing company in the U.S. to help identify or pre-qualify leads. Company profiles also include the contact information for hard-to-find executive decision-makers. Try a free demo today!

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