In seeking to aid young men who do not walk the traditional path of college or work after K-12 schooling, Bill and Stacy Spencer, founders and executive directors of Narrow Gate, created an organization that aims to instill a sense of purpose while providing job skills and training.

The faith-based nonprofit was founded in 2004 after the Spencers, who have backgrounds in software development, took two young men into their home with the goal of helping them to establish a relationship with God and to find a fulfilling career or job.

“It was not by some grand design or business plan. My wife and I were just minding our businesses out here in Middle Tennessee,” Bill Spencer said. “We gave them jobs at our company because they were really talented guys, and we got to be close friends.”

Since its founding, Narrow Gate has housed about 500 individuals, according to the nonprofit. The foundation, which has since grown to include a lodge in Williamsport, offers training and guidance for young men ages 18-25. Spencer said the foundation works with men from all different backgrounds.

In Franklin, the foundation operates Narrow Gate Trading Co., where members of Narrow Gate create handcrafted leather goods, including book covers, journals and bags. The trading company was established in 2013 as a way to help young men develop skills and learn business practices.

“We’re always looking for ways to allow guys to learn with their minds and with their hearts and with their hands—all three,” Spencer said.

The organization has also grown to include TN Box Beams, which makes lightweight wood beams and mantles for homes. A portion of that business’s profits go to support the foundation so as not to be entirely dependent on donors.

“To us, success is understanding, ‘This is who I am. This is why I was placed on this Earth,’ and stepping into that with every bit of devotion you have to offer that calling,” Spencer said.

Narrow Gate Trading Co.

200 Beasley Drive, Ste. 110, Franklin


Hours: by appointment only