BY JOHN SHEARER knoxnews.com
Wendell Redmond and several of his red-clad employees looked like elves as they diligently climbed up and down ladders outside a home off Duncan Road in West Knoxville.
They were moving along a roofline spreading Christmas lights and decorations - and a little holiday cheer.
Wendell and his wife, Jinni, are in their fifth year of operating the Knoxville franchise of Christmas Decor, a seasonal business that offers outdoor residential and commercial Christmas decorations.
"We have fun with it," said Wendell. "We come out and sing (Christmas carols). The customers enjoy what you do. They will bring their children out and sometimes entire neighborhoods will show up."
The decorations include hanging or ground lights, holiday props, bows, wreaths and other similar items.
Because of all the work involved, Wendell keeps busy from September to January finalizing jobs, installing lights and decorations, and then taking down all the adornments after New Year's Day.
The core of his work is in the residential sector, although he and his eight full-time employees and six part-time workers spent three weeks installing lights and decorations at the Pinnacle at Turkey Creek.
"I tell (employees) we have a lot of fun," he said. "It is rough work and you will be sore, but you always put a smile on a customer's face."
Because of the number of customers and amount of work involved, Wendell begins installing decorations not only before Thanksgiving, but also Halloween. His busiest time of the year is around Thanksgiving and the first part of December, when his multiple crews are working long days every day but Thanksgiving and Sundays.
The minimum cost for any project is $500, Wendell said.
The lights and decorations are owned by the business and stored by Wendell until the following year, when a resident or business proprietor has the opportunity to have his or her place decorated again.
Besides his wife, Wendell's sons, Chesney and Grant, also help him.
When not installing holiday decorations, the Lenoir City resident is still involved in Santa Claus-like work. Besides running a landscaping lighting business, he also does traveling mission work for his church, Restoration International Outreach in Maryville.
Wendell has gone with the church to more than a half-dozen countries and a number of states building churches, going into prisons and holding crusades.
"The reason I do this is so I can travel and do mission work," he said, adding that he donates some of his proceeds to the church work.