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Our Story

Leave it all behind. Do something groundbreaking. That was the plan for Dave and Lisa Uhrik who, after marrying in 2014, walked away from their corporate jobs for a business venture that they hope becomes a national model for others. 


Their mission is threefold:

1) cultivate a new generation of makers who understand and invest themselves in skilled manufacturing crafts,

2) support the success of independent retailers and community resources through the creation of high quality, competitively priced, custom fixtures

3) take an important, established manufacturing tradition forward 


"You wouldn't cut down a 100-year-old tree without thinking about it, and yet we're cutting down 100-year-old businesses without a blink." says Lisa. For Lisa and Dave, the goal of growing Franklin began as a desire to take forward one of this nation's best companies. "We'd love to be examples of a national movement where people like us who have a lot of manufacturing history and live in an economically disadvantaged community help communities grow by continuing a successful, established business.  We searched a long time before we found Franklin."


Franklin Fixtures captivated the Uhriks with the stories and devotees, independent bookstores and retailers who were using Franklin Fixtures proudly and daily after 30 years of use. "We saw immediately that these were the ONLY fixtures named on the web in the aftermarket. "Franklin Fixtures for sale" was touted as something special and they held their value. This was the kind of information we took to the bank, literally, to finance a business built around "one and done" independents."

Dave & Lisa.jpg

The banks were a little skeptical about the couple's plan to invest themselves in a business that depends on small businesses who will not need to renovate or remodel after 5 or 6 years (because the fixtures are still performing). "But what was convincing was the reputation. People talk. They tell their stories. And if the reputation is good, there is no stronger form of marketing, even in the face of misinformation and unreliable internet solutions. One and done is fine so long as their testimonial is good for the next entrepreneur.  It has been and we intend to keep it that way."  


And, more importantly, the fixtures themselves tell the story. Books of Wonder in NY is the store that was the model for the movie "You've Got Mail."  In the movie, the little store closed. But in reality, it thrived. Books of Wonder, the real store, was using Franklin Fixtures 35 years ago and has expanded 6 times in the last 20 years.  And in 2017, the Uhriks personally helped deliver fixtures to owner Peter Glassman for his new store on the Upper West Side. "I think we were all too tired on that day -- Peter's 37th anniversary in the book business -- to appreciate what a special moment that was. We had been over hill and dale in a delivery truck and Peter was in the throes of organizing a new store. But there was an immediate connection with him, with the idea that we're all part of something special here." said Lisa


"Right now, we're working on fixtures for Donna Paz and Mark Kauffman's new store, Story & Song. That store has been a dream for these industry advocates and we're glad to be a part of it," says Dave. "We've got a strong team and business ownership requires a lot of courage, and a little craziness, some days. We empathize with our customers, because in so many ways we're all in the same boat with the same mission, trying to make something that improves the quality of life for our communities and that enables us to participate in a tangible way."  


"I just wanted to work with her." says Dave with a wink. "We do love working together and have the best team," says Lisa. "I never could have dreamt this up -- being involved in small business this way. Every time an order leaves our dock I know a new store is born somewhere in this country. It's a store that will impact its community and the families in it in a positive way, and we get to be a part of that."  


We have family involved in this business -- a son, a son-in-law -- and we are fortunate to work with several of the nation's experts in this field who have been with Franklin for over 20, 25 and 30 years. David Troe is the mind and engineer that has thought through literally thousands of stores, ensuring the structural integrity that has made Franklin's reputation. Christine Hart has been the "Hart" of design, specializing in the optimization of small spaces and in creative uses of common. 


"We'll be doing this until I'm 111." says Dave. "We admire Charles and Ray Eames and would love to leave the kind of legacy that they did.  That's a hope.  I'm excited to see it grow and help shape these spaces that are so important to individuals and communities."  


Franklin's Achievements:

  • 50 years in manufacture of Bookstore and other Independent Retail Fixtures

  • SHOP! Award for Sustainable Design, Silver Award, 2016

  • SHOP! Association of Retail Environments Award for Best Hardline Specialty Store, 2016

  • Mentions in:

    • Forbes, September 2016, Entrepreneurial Innovation

    • PBS Crafted in Tennessee

    • Influence Magazine

    • Highlands Economic Development magazine

    • PBS Created in the Cumberlands


Lisa's History:

  • Cookeville, TN native with 40 years creating manufacturing transformation

  • Owner, The Transitions Group, working with 45 different companies to facilitate profitable continuation over 14 year period

  • Corporate national leadership positions in automotive manufacturing and education 

  • Lifelong learner and advocate of individual development

  • M.Ed. Vanderbilt University, Human Development

  • M.Ed. Vanderbilt University, Organizational Development

  • Studies toward Ph.D. in Community Literacy, Tennessee Technological University


Dave's History:

  • Philadelphia-area native with 45 years in manufacturing innovation

  • Recognized as "Global Lean Leader," Philips, 2011

  • Presidential Award for Leadership, Philips 2010

  • Industry Week, named one of top 10 manufacturers, 2010

  • Industry Week, named one of top 20 manufacturers, 2009

  • Industry Week, named one of top 20 manufacturers, 2008

  • 25 years in manufacture of lighting fixtures

  • Lifelong learner, attaining B.S. Tennessee Technological University, 2011

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