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DARREL GILLESPIE - CEO/Founder
[est. 1988] 

With a formal background in accounting, Darrel spent many years employed in purchasing as a buyer for mechanical and electrical supplies prior to operating in a maintenance environment for more than a decade. These cumulative past experiences serve him well as CEO and founder of Universal Machine & Tool Co., Inc. where he has spent the past 28 years as a leading advocate of quality and customer satisfaction. In the early development of the machine shop Darrel was commissioned by Bertelsmann Printing Group to independently design the Universal 125 2HSP foil stamping press, the-first-of-its-kind case stamping machine now distributed throughout the United States and Europe. Additionally to his credit are various designs of machinery for the graphic arts, automotive and ball bearing manufacturing industries.

Darrel has an active presence as Universal’s “go-to” man and can be found nearly every day in the corporate office or on-site at job locations throughout the region or the nation.

Darrel is a native of the Town of Nickelsville, located in Scott County, VA, and came from that area empowered with a strong work ethic and sense of concern for community issues and the well being of others. He regularly engages in pursuits of philanthropy with friends and strangers alike.

Married with two daughters, Darrel loves and values family. He travels every chance he gets and is a military veteran having served six years with the U.S. Army. 

STEPHANIE STRODE - Vice President
[est. 1998]

Stephanie was born and raised in Kingsport and currently lives with her husband Chris and three children, Carter, Riley and Emily in Johnson City.

Stephanie graduated from Sullivan North High School in 1991 and from East Tennessee State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology in 1996. She went on to complete a Master of Science degree in social work from the University of Tennessee in 2001. She currently works as a Social Worker with the Veteran’s Administration at the V.A. Mountain Home in Johnson City, TN. She enjoys spending her free time traveling with her family.   

JULIA HILL - Secretary / Office Manager
[est. 2006]

Julie came to Universal Machine in 2006, bringing with her a collective ten years of experience in a business management environment. She previously held positions in accounting and processing with Medex Laboratories and spent four years as office manager for The Therapy Center. As UMT’s chief accounting executive and office manager Julie is a reliable administrator devoted to the success of her customers and employees alike. Throughout the work week she can be found showing up early or leaving late while addressing everything in between with an interested, cooperative and flexible approach. With now twenty years experience to her credit she can easily be described as a leader’s leader, offering a loyalty and level of professionalism that is solid gold. Julie’s positive-energy presence gives Universal Machine an edge over the competition with superior customer service and business management accuracy that is unmatched in today’s local-owned industrial field.

Julie is a native of Kingsport, and graduated from Sullivan North High School before attending East Tennessee State University and Northeast State Technical Community College. She has been married for 19 years to Brian Hill, and has attended Friendship Chapel Church for two decades. Together with her husband, she enjoys skiing, hiking and traveling at every given opportunity. 

SHANE McDAVID - Shop Foreman
[est. 1998]

Having 18-years experience with Universal, 13 of which have been the Machine Shop Supervisor, Shane possesses a varied background. Originally from the Nickelsville, VA area, Shane attended VA Tech and also Mountain Empire Community College and gained valuable technical and communication skills. In 1998, Universal, owned by his uncle, had grown to the point of needing additional expertise in CNC programming and operation and Shane answered the call. His uncanny ability to interpret customer prints and transcribe them into CNC programming for machining centers, Water-Jet, EDM and CMM, as well as operate the equipment to machine the parts, is not a trait easily found in today’s machining markets. He is well versed with Autocad, Gibbs CAM, OMAX Make and Layout and Calypso. One of Shane’s most important characteristics is the ability to assist customers in finding the best and most effective methods of solving their problems; and his attention to their needs is always tireless and highly helpful.
If you have a difficult problem to solve, Shane is the one to share it with.

Shane, his wife Lindsey and their two children currently reside in Nicklesville. He enjoys 4-wheeler riding, the outdoors and spending time with his two daughters. His family attends Uplift Church and one of his many hobbies is guitar playing.   

WAYNE SMITH - Engineer / Estimator
[est. 2002]

Experienced as an Engineering/Maintenance manager for approximately 30-years, Wayne came onboard with Universal Machine & Tool in 2002. His professional, yet friendly and cooperative demeanor, creates a satisfying feeling of confidence in his co-workers and clients alike. While his background is in Mechanical Engineering, Wayne has the capability of working across the boundaries of the varied disciplines faced daily in the performance and contribution to a well-managed and operated machining and fabricating facility. Wayne’s continuing attitude toward customers is never of blame, but always of “how can we help you be successful in your projects?” which is a trait highly welcomed by customers.

Wayne is married and he and his wife have two daughters; one a Mechanical Engineer and one a Corporate Chef, and in his private life he enjoys interacting with his grandchildren, playing Bass Guitar in his church band, vegetable gardening and community service volunteering.    

SAMUEL PIERSON - Drafting CAD/CAM Technician
[est. 1998]

Fresh out of college Sam came to Universal Machine & Tool in 1995, after graduating with a degree in Applied Science from Northeast State Technical Community College and spending two semesters in the co-op program working with structural, civil, mechanical & pressure vessels at Tennessee Eastman Company. With more than 25 years experience in multiple CAM programs for vertical machine centers and lathes, Sam is highly skilled in the design, programming, set-up and machining of both solid model and 2-dimensional parts. Additionally he has years of experience in reverse engineering, from single components to complete mechanical assemblies, using traditional tools as well as standard and portable CMM, the latest being Faro Arm coupled with Design Works for Inventor. Sam possesses a can-do-anything attitude anchored by an unwillingness to give up making him somewhat of a perfectionist and an asset to UMT customers, especially in the face of design or machining challenges.

Sam is a native of Kingsport, has never been married and has one daughter Zori Ember Pierson. He thoroughly enjoys being a dad and has a long list of hobbies that include playing a multitude of musical instruments, guitar repair and restoration, drawing, painting and all things outdoors, particularly gardening, camping, hiking and backpacking. Most recently Sam enjoys spending time with his dad restoring British cars. 

CHRIS STRODE - Field Supervisor
[est. 1998]

Chris is a lifelong native of East Tennessee. He was born in Chattanooga and considers Kingsport to be his home. He graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1990, and from East Tennessee State University where he earned three degrees: a B.A. in Sociology in 1994, a M.A. in Counseling in 2000, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in 2013.

Chris came to Gillespie, Inc. Crane & Millwright in 2014, after working at East Tennessee State University for over 14 years. He is married to Stephanie Gillespie Strode and lives in Johnson City, where together they raise three children, Carter, Riley, and Emily Strode. In his free time Chris enjoys fishing, hiking, canoeing, playing/listening to music, reading, and traveling with his family.  

BARBARA QUILLEN - Reception
[est. 2012]


Barbara came to Universal Machine & Tool in 2012, bringing with her a lifetime of blended skills that include data entry, accounting, inventory control, organizational management, customer service coordination, and creative design. Graced with a sunny disposition and a passion for multi-tasking, she is the first face you see when you enter our facility and is eager to help in any capacity her capabilities allow.

Barbara has three children and lives in Gate City, VA. She spends her time away from work enjoying her family, performing volunteer services in the community, playing guitar and camping.  

Our Team - 2018

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