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Expansion promises jobs for the community

Dorinda and David Shepherd owners and operators of CrystaLac, a family run business located in Laurel Bloomery. CrystaLac was opened in the 1980s by Dorinda’s father Derek. They are expanding their operation to the former Norm’s TV and Mountain City bank locations in Mountain City. Online image

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

CrystaLac is a company that many people do not seem to know much about in the community. Owners David and Dorinda Shepherd’s recent purchase agreement for the properties, best known as Norm’s TV and the Mountain City Bank, has brought the name back into the public eye. This expansion could benefit the community and local organizations through added jobs and community outreach.

CrystaLac is a family business started by Dorinda’s father, Derek, in Johnson County during the 1980s. He was a paint chemist involved in developing the first water-based paints, according to David. Dorinda worked alongside her father for 20 years, while David worked as a Johnson County deputy sheriff before moving to sales.

“The business started here, and we want to leave it here,” David explained their community roots. “We’re proud to be Johnson Countians and proud to be making a go of this in our community.”

The Shepherds have been helping out the community for years through local programs, businesses, and schools. As part of the expansion, they plan to include a learning space to house their lessons. Before, most were online, with a few taking place at the Johnson County Center for the Arts. The Shepherds told The Tomahawk they would be glad to allow others to use the space as needed.

Expanding businesses need more employees. David told the county that they could hire up to seven people at the moment and need a total of nine now. Depending on how the company performs, more locals could have job opportunities. Prospects seem high considering the seven parties interested in franchising a business in the Mountain City location’s image. David reports that sales have increased since the pandemic hit.

“The sky is the limit,” David explained about hiring capabilities and growth. “We had three employees originally. Now, in 14 months, we have 12. The goal is to have to open another facility in two to three years.”

As part of their community outreach, the Shepherds also agreed to hire former prisoners that graduate through a rehabilitation program the county is currently planning. Other outreach projects include work with Johnson County High School by mentoring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) students and providing products for Battle of the Bands.

The County Commission agreed to give the Shepherds a tax break on both county and city taxes for a few years while they expand. They hope to have the shipping part of the business running by February and open the storefront around Independence Day. The Shepherds want the community to know there will be no production in the city space, and all of its products are eco-friendly. For updates, keep an eye on CrystaLac’s social media pages or its website.