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Lance Williams: Nissan VP meets one-on-one with Obama

Thirty years ago, a job at Nissan was simply a way for Randy Knight to get to stay near his family’s farm in Milton, a Rutherford County community about an hour outside of Nashville.

Last week, his job at Nissan was Knight’s ticket to a one-on-one conversation with one of the most powerful men on the planet.

During President Barack Obama’s visit to Nashville last week, Knight was one of a select few community leaders who were able to meet personally with the commander in chief before he gave a speech at McGavock High School on Thursday afternoon.

Knight, vice president of the Nissan vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, said he received a phone call earlier in the week from someone saying that he was going to be contacted by a member of the White House advance team to confirm a meeting with the president.

“To be honest, I first thought it was a hoax,” Knight said. But hours later, he got the official email from the White House; the follow-up phone call came soon after.

“He made it very comfortable to talk to him,” Knight said. “He was very genuine and accommodating. He said, ‘I’ve heard very good things about Nissan,’ and I said, ‘If that is what you’ve heard, then just know that it’s all true.’ We both had a good laugh at that.”

Knight said the two talked about the company’s growth in Smyrna over the past three years and the continuing need for trained and qualified workers, a theme that Obama would discuss during his speech at the high school later.
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