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new showroom provides design inspiration for kitchen and baths
by Audrey Poff, photography by Melissa Donner

From luxurious baths infused with oxygen-rich microbubbles to touchless toilets, Mid-South Plumbing & Electric Supply recently expanded its presence on Highland Drive with a 7,000-square-foot showroom where customers can view products before they make a purchase.

One of Jonesboro’s oldest businesses, Mid-South Plumbing & Electric Supply began as Mid-South Plumbing on Johnson Avenue in 1949 under the ownership of Pierre and Juanita Latourette. Seeing a need to add an electrical division, the Latourettes opened American Electric Supply a few years later.

In 1966, the plumbing division moved to its current location at 2600 E. Highland Drive, and 10 years later, the electrical division relocated from its original Church Street address to an addition at 2608 E. Highland Drive. The two companies merged to form Mid-South Plumbing & Electric Supply Co. in 1995.

Following Pierre’s death in 1963, his wife took the helm, running the business until her death in 2005. Today, Mid-South Plumbing & Electric Supply is owned by the Latourettes’ grandchildren, James “Sonny” Hunt Jr. and Tina Coots. Tina’s husband, Warren, serves as general manager of Mid-South’s plumbing department.

Sonny and Tina have continued their grandparents’ legacy of providing quality products and old-fashioned customer service at Mid-South Plumbing & Electric Supply, now in its 68th year.

When Sonny first began working for the family business at 19, however, he admits it was out of simple necessity rather than a desire to follow in the family business.

“I needed money,” said Hunt, a local musician who began playing guitar as a teenager and continues to perform locally as well as on European tours. “I asked my grandmother for money and she said, ‘I’m not going to give you any more money. If you want money, you can go to work at Mid-South.’ When grandmother was alive, I’d work for her for a few weeks and then I’d make her mad and I’d leave, so it was back and forth, back and forth.”

Both Sonny and Tina recall their grandmother as a no-nonsense, business-minded matriarch who they call “a 5-foot-tall fireball.”

“Back then, running the business as a woman, she had to be pretty strong in a lot of ways,” said Tina. “She was something else.”

As the business continued to grow, the owners saw a need to expand to meet changes in the industry. While the existing 60,000-square-foot facility continues to warehouse inventory and serve contractors, as well as the public, it did not provide adequate space to display new items. To be able to better serve customers, the owners decided to construct a new 7,000-square-foot showroom, which opened earlier this year.

“We always had access to the more upscale products, but for customers to see them, they had to look in a catalog or go online,” said Tina.

“As we grew over the years, we just outgrew the old space,” added Warren. “It just became hard to show new products. When I started in the business, plumbers used to come in and buy all of the supplies and products. Today, either the homeowner or the builder has taken over that role.”

The owners emphasize that Mid-South’s plumbing and electrical supply store will continue to serve plumbers, electricians, builders and contractors as it has in the past.

“We still have the economically priced supplies for those building a set of apartments or rental houses,” said Tina. “We built the showroom so custom home builders and individuals would have the opportunity to look at nicer options without having to go to Little Rock or Memphis. This was created and designed more for those who are building a house. It allows you to come in and feel, touch and see all the displays and pick what you want out.”

For example, the new showroom includes a shower display that allows customers to actually see how different showerheads work.
“We have a working shower display where customers can actually come in and turn it on to see the flow water from shower heads, to body sprays to rain heads,” said Tina.

A separate display, added Warren, allows customers to submerge their hands in water infused with MicroSilk, a new form of hydrotherapy from Jason International that claims to offer unique health and beauty benefits. Mid-South’s new showroom not only allows customers to feel the effects of hydrotherapy firsthand, but to also see how the manufacturer has added the therapeutic experience to its line of products.

Kitchen displays in the showroom allow customers to view sinks, faucets and even test the noise level of garbage disposals. Two staff kitchens and the restrooms inside the new facility also showcase a variety of products that customers can see in use.

For those who haven’t purchased a toilet in recent years, Mid-South’s new showroom can help take some of the guesswork out of a very personal decision. A row of working toilets at the front of the store offers customers the ability to test everything from comfort to the sound of the flush, as well as new innovations in toilet seats such as night lights and lids that close quietly.

To help meet the busy schedules of builders and homeowners, Mid-South recently added extended hours to the showroom schedule. The new showroom is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To contact the showroom, call 520-6370. Mid-South Plumbing & Electric Supply sales and warehouse is open Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. For more information about the supply store, call 932-8329.