By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
The retail area is filled with fire protection suits, accessories and T-shirts. The back warehouse area holds a fire truck and a water tanker that the company is building and customizing for its clients.
The vast majority of Tupelo Fire Equipment’s sales come from fire departments, but the store is open to the public. The client list includes fire departments in three states.
Popular items include fire trucks, breathing apparatus, nozzles, hoses and fire extinguishers.
“Anything a fire department needs, we can supply,” said Mandy Golding, who is one of four owners.
The business started in 1974 and Gary Merritt was a regular employee then.
He worked his way up and bought the business in 1986. Merritt owns the business with his wife, Barbara; his daughter, Mandy; and his son-in-law, Steve Golding.
Mandy Golding became involved in the business after returning from college and not knowing what to do next.
“My dad said, ‘I’ll put you to work sweeping floors and you’ll figure it out,’” Golding said.
Added Merritt, “I gave her any rotten job I could think of. I thought she’d go back to school.”
But she didn’t.
“Working with fire departments is just so enjoyable and such a labor of love that it gets into your blood and you don’t ever want to leave it,” Golding said.
“Those are the guys that are out there doing their job and they don’t ever get the credit for doing their job,” Merritt said.
– Carlie Kollath
• Owners: Gary and Barbara Merritt; Mandy and Steve Golding
• Established: 1974
• Address: 4915 Cliff Gookin Blvd., Tupelo
• Hours: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Phone: (662) 844-6717
• Employees: 11
• Primary business: Sales of firefighting equipment and supplies
• Website: TupeloFire.com
• Facebook: Tupelo Fire Equipment