CityScope® Magazine Annual Business Issue 2021

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$5.95 | 2021



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A convergence of financial knowledge and capabilities. Right here in Chattanooga. We’ve assembled a team of well-established and highly experienced financial professionals. It has given us the ability to address every aspect of our clients’ financial needs. And by limiting the number of clients we serve, it allows us to offer an uncommon level of service and maintain our unwavering focus on helping to create quality financial solutions.


This is what we bring to the table – and what will ultimately bring you to us. If you are an individual seeking seasoned financial guidance and the comfort of working with an experienced group of advisors who call Chattanooga home, we welcome the opportunity to sit down together.


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If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that despite immense challenges, Chattanooga businesses are resilient. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused everyone, from larger corporations to homegrown mom-and-pop shops, to rethink their business models, implement new strategies, and adapt in a way that they have never had to before. While many companies around the country are still struggling to recover, Chattanooga’s business climate is thriving, with a healthy local economy that’s continuing to welcome new businesses, new jobs, and new faces to the entrepreneurial scene. Our local business community’s successes have not gone unnoticed. Early in 2021, USA Today ranked Chattanooga No. 10 on a list of U.S. cities that added the most jobs during the pandemic, with a 1.7% increase in employment from February 2020 to November 2020. Also in early 2021, Forbes recognized two of Chattanooga’s fastest-growing companies, Bellhop and FreightWaves, among its list of the best startup employers in the nation, while a handful of Chattanooga’s biggest employers – including TVA, Volkswagen, and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee – were added to a Forbes list of America’s 500 best employers. Inc., Travel + Leisure, and Time Out magazines have all named Chattanooga one of the best places to work remotely, and SmartAssetTM named our city among the best locations for young professionals. In this year’s Annual Business Issue, we’re especially proud to highlight the many achievements, innovative spirit, and noteworthy philanthropy of our local businesses. Beginning with our feature “Milestones,” we celebrate seven area companies that have proven their resilience by operating for a hundred years or more. In “All in the Family,” we profile familyowned businesses that have been passed down for multiple generations. At the heart of any great company is its people, and articles like “Power Couples” and “Raising the Bar” showcase successful husband-wife business partners and the Scenic City’s youngest entrepreneurs, respectively. Throughout this issue, you will also discover sage advice from executives of businesses large and small. For example, in “Good Question!” we ask top businesspeople for their go-to interview question, and in “Follow the Leader,” local executives share what exemplary leadership looks like to them. And, not to be missed, our annual “Gold Club” article honors 30 influential business leaders who are making a difference in their workplace and their community. We hope that you will find this publication to be inspiring and instructive, and that you will enjoy learning more about the exceptional accomplishments – both past and present – of our local business community. P.S. Follow CityScope® and HealthScope® magazines and the Choose Chattanooga® – Chattanooga Resource & Relocation Guide® on Facebook and Instagram!




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Organizations & People

22 Milestones Celebrating Chattanooga Companies a Century or Older


Raising the Bar How Young Entrepreneurs in Chattanooga Are Making a Splash


What My Mother Taught Me Daughters Share How Their Mothers Have Influenced Their Success


All in the Family Three Generations of Family Business


Good Question! Top Businesspeople Reveal Their Go-To Interview Questions

42 Power Couples Dynamic Husband-Wife Duos Doing Business Together



Chattanooga’s Premier Real Estate Team

Jay Robinson has a well-earned reputation for excellence. We would consider it a privilege to help you find your dream home or to sell your current home. Give us a call and let us show you why Jay Robinson and the Robinson Team of Keller Williams are number one in Chattanooga real estate. # 1 Agent in Chattanooga # 1 Agent in Tennessee # 2 Out of 3,000 Agents in the Southeast

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Industries & Trends 100 Cream of the Crop Celebrating the Farm-to-Table Movement 116 Weather or Not When Business Varies by Season

Sales & Marketing 126 Building Client Trust How Businesses Keep People Coming Back 132 Communicating Your Brand Digitally How Companies Find Success in the Digital Sphere

Innovation & Entrepreneurship 142 Championing a Cause Women at the Helm of Chattanooga Nonprofits 156 Creation and Innovation Tech Leaders Share How They Foster Innovation in Their Industry



Life Well Planned. We take pride in supporting the well-being of our clients by providing financial planning and investment strategies based on their specific goals.

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Strategy & Leadership 162

Learning the Ropes The Importance of Mentorship in the Professional Sphere

176 Staying at the Top of Your Game Area Executives on How They Remain Prepared for Daily Responsibilities 180 Follow the Leader Movers and Shakers Define Leadership & Success

Management 192

Value and Validation Local Companies on Showing Employees They Care

200 Location, Location, Location! Managing a Business With Multiple Locations 207 The Gold Club 30 Influential Business Leaders

180 “I have always found that the skill of listening is the best gift given to us. You can learn so much more by speaking less often and taking the time to listen to others.” Terry Hart, President & CEO, Chattanooga Airport


Celebrating 84 Years of Selling the Finest Jewelry B rody J ewelers

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| 2021


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Sales & New Business Development

Cailey Mullinix Easterly

Sales & Business Development

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Art, Creative, & Design

Emily Pérez Long


Lauren Robinson

Managing Editor

Christina Cannon


Kathy Bradshaw Anna Hill Lindsey June Mary Beth Wallace

SEO/Digital Marketing

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Photographers Creative Revolver Emily Pérez Long Rich Smith

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Financial Perspectives

220 Lessons Examining the Long-Term Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis 224 One Answer Does Not Fit All Your Tolerance for Risk


CityScope® magazine Copyright, CMC Publications, LLC, 1993 CityScope® magazine is a trademark owned by CMC Publications, LLC

$5.95 | 2021

Alison Goldstein Lebovitz, Alnoor Dhanani, and Tracy Wood are among many accomplished leaders highlighted in this year’s Annual Business Issue. Photography by Emily Pérez Long


CityScope® and HealthScope® magazines and Choose Chattanooga® – Chattanooga Resource & Relocation Guide® (the magazines) are published by CMC Publications, LLC, a Chattanooga, Tennessee company. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. Views expressed herein are those of the authors or those interviewed and not necessarily those of the publisher, editors, or advertisers. The publisher, editors, and advertisers disclaim any responsibility or liability for such material. All content associated with and included in advertisements (ads, advertorial, and special promotional sections) placed in the magazines are the responsibility of the respective advertiser. CMC Publications, LLC, cannot and does not assume responsibility for any material contained within or associated with any advertisement.

HealthScope® magazine Copyright, CMC Publications, LLC, 1989 HealthScope® magazine is a trademark owned by CMC Publications, LLC ANNUAL BUSINESS ISSUE

Choose Chattanooga® – Chattanooga Resource & Relocation Guide® Copyright, CMC Publications, LLC, 2011 Choose Chattanooga® and Chattanooga Resource & Relocation Guide® are trademarks owned by CMC Publications, LLC

In 2007, Darlene Brown decided our city was missing something a locally-owned, woman-led real estate brokerage. With only seven real estate professionals, Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC was born in a small Downtown office. Today we serve Chattanooga from three offices with over 140 REALTORS® and are proud to be the leading locally-owned, independent real estate company in Chattanooga. Celebrating fifteen years in business, we are looking forward to an exciting future of growth and giving back to the city that has given us so much.

(front l to r) Pam Duffy, Assistant Broker; Danielle Farmer, Marketing Director; Darlene Brown, President & Downtown Managing Broker (back l to r) Ryan May, Senior Vice President; Diane Burke, East Managing Broker; Allison Hillis, Executive Leadership Team Member; Kathie Landers, Director of Operations; Desiree Tombul, Signal Mountain Managing Broker; Chris Todd, Vice President Business Development


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Companies “To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business and your business in your heart.” - Thomas J. Watson Sr., former CEO, IBM



Milestones Celebrating Chattanooga Companies a Century or Older In a world that’s constantly changing and evolving, staying in business for a hundred years or more counts as a herculean feat. A century ago, Babe Ruth was breaking the home-run record in baseball, and all of the movies in theaters were silent films. Operating a business back then certainly required different strategies and faced different obstacles than it does today, but some companies have adjusted, adapted, and persevered. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 20% of American companies survive past their 25th anniversary, so a centennial milestone is certainly something to be applauded. In industries ranging from healthcare to commercial printing, we’re celebrating seven local companies who’ve made it for a century – or more. BY ANNA HILL



Adams Lithographing Company EST. 1886 Near the close of the 19th century, Walter Adams founded what was then known as Adams Printing Company during a time when lithographic printing was still a popular practice. In 1935, Adams realized that Chattanooga didn’t have any lithographers in business, so he set up shop on Broad Street and immediately installed the first rotary press in town. As the printing company thrived, Adams brought on Clyde Hogue to work in the pressroom, with Ernest Igou joining the business as their first graphic artist soon after. Following the death of Walter Adams in 1957, Hogue and Igou purchased the company from his widow, Mary Adams, and continued to expand operations. As the new millennium approached, their sons, Jim Hogue and Mike Igou, took ownership of the company where it now resides – at a 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility on Chapman Road. Currently, the company is operated by Jim’s sons, Wyatt, Jason, and Bryan, with Wyatt serving as president. Wyatt Hogue believes that Adams Lithographing’s dedication to being an employee- and family-centered company can be credited for their enduring success. “We believe in honest, hard work as much as we believe in the time away from work. We are a family-oriented company, and we value everyone within it, from top to bottom,” he tells us. One of the company’s core values is constant innovation, which means not only re-evaluating and improving their business practices and capabilities, but also continuing to invest in their employees to foster their growth. In the printing business, one of the most challenging aspects of it is also one of the most rewarding, according to Hogue. “The business of printing offers the opportunity to create something different and unique with each project, but it also requires us to create a tangible product based on the faith and trust of our customers, as they rely on us to deliver something they can’t see upfront,” he explains. “There are no test drives in printing.” And after decades of success, everyone at Adams Lithographing is looking optimistically to the future. They plan to adapt with the times but keep the focus on the customer, as they always have. “We will continue to grow in size and expertise for as long as there is print,” Hogue assures us.

Photos Courtesy of Adams Lithographing Company



Hamilton Health Care System EST. 1921

After the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, the Dalton area realized the vital need for a hospital. Funds were secured through donations from both Crown Cotton Mills and several local physicians, and in May of 1921, Hamilton Memorial Hospital was dedicated on National Hospital Day. This year, Hamilton Health Care System (HHCS) is celebrating its centennial anniversary. It’s hard not to make the connection that Hamilton’s hundred years of existence is currently flanked by global pandemics – it originated out of necessity following the Spanish flu pandemic, and currently, it’s still navigating the healthcare needs that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, doing its utmost to serve the community has always been at the forefront of its mission, no matter the decade. What started with one facility – Hamilton Memorial Hospital – has become a much bigger, far-reaching system. In 1956, a more modern hospital was built in Dalton to meet growing needs, and it was renamed Hamilton Medical Center (HMC) in 1982 to reflect its expanded role as a regional provider. Today, HMC is the flagship facility for the entirety of HHCS, which now includes nine other affiliates. Throughout its history, Hamilton has achieved several firsts – such as featuring the first hospital in the state certi-


fied to accept Medicare patients and the first hospital in the country to use Prismax, an advanced kidney therapy system. The healthcare system has also dedicated itself to offering innovation in treatment, which can be found in places like their Peeples Cancer Institute. Jeff Myers, Hamilton’s CEO, believes that this kind of forward thinking is why the hospital system is still thriving today. “This has allowed us to develop ever-evolving improvements in technology, pharmacology, and treatments, and it has ensured that we have the capabilities to provide the best, most innovative treatments for the region,” he explains. Being proactive about the advancement of medicine and technology while still keeping a patient- and community-focused outlook has not only established HHCS as an asset to the region, but has also contributed greatly to its longevity. “Hamilton is continuously evolving to advance healthcare,” Myers says. “An example of this is the development of Hamilton’s Cardiovascular Institute, as well as the many other new services and treatments we have on the horizon. We will continue to do everything we can to always serve the healthcare needs of our friends, families, and neighbors across the region.”

Photos Courtesy of Hamilton Health Care System


Fischer Evans Jewelers EST. 1869 The oldest independently owned retail store in Chattanooga, Fischer Evans Jewelers was established shortly after the Civil War in 1869 by William and Lewis Fischer under the name of W.F. Fischer & Bro. When the Fischer brothers passed away, T.H. McLure, the shop’s manager, purchased the establishment from the Fischer estate and continued business, and his daughter and nephew operated the store following him. It was later purchased by Carter Evans, who gave the business the name that it still has today. In 1970, Howard Glover purchased the store as well as expanded it, and the company is still in the Glover family today – now run by the third generation, Clarke Glover and his wife Nico. Fischer Evans is still operating on the original site in downtown Chattanooga. Though it began as a shop that focused on watches and fine jewelry, it now features an expanded range of offerings that also include fine china, gifts, and a bridal registry department. The current owners, Clarke and Nico, are both third-generation jewelers and even met at a jewelry trade show. “We have both grown up with the jewelry business in our veins and complement each other with our different industry backgrounds. We’re a good team,” Nico tells us. The Glovers believe that being a familyowned jeweler gives them a leg up when it comes to the shop’s longevity. This allows them to keep their services more personalized. “We hand-select our diamonds, gemstones, and jewelry pieces to cover categories and satisfy our clients’ demands. We will often select pieces or lines based on specific customers,” explains Clarke. Looking to the future, the Glovers believe that it’s their unique relationships with customers that will continue to carry them forward. “We have served many families for multiple generations and continue to foster those relationships inside the store and as part of the community,” Clarke tells us. “We feel deep appreciation for our clients over the years, and we love to make people feel at home and taken care of.”


Photos Courtesy of Fischer Evans Jewelers

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Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan, PLLC EST. 1882 The law firm that Chattanooga now knows as Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan, PLLC, was originally founded as the firm of DeWitt, Shepherd & Thomas in June of 1882. Now approaching its 140th birthday, the firm has been serving the community for a significant portion of Chattanooga’s history. One of the firm’s first partners, W.G.M. Thomas, was responsible for incorporating the town of Lookout Mountain and took it upon himself to represent it free of charge for the rest of his life. Thomas was known to be a man of integrity and upstanding character, with the Chattanooga Bar Association noting that “it is doubtful whether any Chattanooga lawyer ever worked harder for causes in which he strongly believed than Mr. Thomas.” Paul R. Leitner, one of the firm’s longtime partners who passed away earlier this year, marveled at the changes that society went through over the decades, bringing the firm along with them into the future. In his memoir, he noted that when he began at the firm in the 1950s, there were no copy machines, no typewriters with any kind of memory capacity, and usually no air-conditioning. However, as technology evolved, so did the

firm: It now has a multi-state network of attorneys, as well as offices in Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis. Today, the firm continues to carry out its mission in a way that honors the partners of years past. William E. Godbold III, the managing partner of the firm’s Chattanooga office, tells us, “Paul Leitner believed that the greatest asset of any organization is its staff of employees and attorneys. He emphasized that integrity and truly being of service to clients are more important than economic rewards.” Godbold believes that this integrity has been vital to the firm’s continuing success and emphasizes the importance of fairness and respect, both internally and externally. The firm also pays homage to founding partner W.G.M. Thomas by staying involved in the community around them, just as he always did. “We’ve remained dedicated to serving the communities in which we live and work. Our attorneys are active in church, civic, and philanthropic efforts,” Godbold explains. Looking to the future, the firm plans to hold tight to the core values they’ve adhered to for so many years while also adapting to keep up with the times – a balance that’s worked well for 139 years.





(Top) Photo by Rich Smith, (Bottom) Photos Courtesy of Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan, PLLC

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Fillauer EST. 1914 Fillauer’s origins trace back to 1914 when George Fillauer Sr., an immigrant hailing from Germany, decided to continue his work in the area by opening his own pharmacy. After establishing his own business, Fillauer brought on an orthotist, Lawrence Porten, to help fit braces and other devices for veterans returning from World War I, which officially began Fillauer’s involvement in the prosthetics and orthotics industry. Following this, George’s sons, George Jr. and Carlton, joined the business as well, with the latter becoming an orthotist-prosthetist. Carlton Fillauer went on to become part of the first class of practitioners to be certified by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics, as well as the first staff prosthetist named to the National Research Committee on Prosthetic Devices. George Jr. took over as president after his father retired in 1955, and ever since, the company has continued to expand and innovate its offerings in prosthetics and orthotics. Currently, the company is led by the fourth generation of Fillauers, with Michael Fillauer as CEO and David Fillauer serving on the board. Fillauer places a lot of importance on growing and innovating


in what they do. “The difference that we make in the patients’ lives, restoring mobility and giving them back a part of their lives and daily activities that have been missing, is the most rewarding thing about our work,” says Michael Fillauer. Though the company has faced challenges over the years – as any company that’s been around for over a century would – there have been some wonderful successes as well. “Making the transition from being primarily a distributor to an industry innovator and manufacturer is something that we’re really proud of,” Fillauer says. Furthermore, in the last two decades, the company has completed 10 acquisitions, integrating various product lines into their own company umbrella – another noteworthy accomplishment. Orthotics and prosthetics is a constantly evolving industry, and everyone at Fillauer is looking forward to what’s to come. “There is still a lot of room to grow in this industry and profession, and we are continuing to look for ways to do that,” explains Fillauer. “Leading innovation in prosthetics for both upper and lower limbs will continue to be a large focus for us.”

Photos Courtesy of Fillauer


Walter A. Wood Supply Company EST. 1913 Walter A. Wood Supply Company, named for its founder, Walter Augustus Wood, is an industrial supply company established in 1913. Originally an engineer, Wood had been placed in charge of the plans for Chickamauga Battlefield, which meant being tasked with laying out the monuments in a way that best reflected the events of the battle. After nearly two decades of work on the project, Wood set up a feed-andseed company at a location near the battlefield, where the company still resides today. At first, Wood’s primary customers were farmers in the area as well as the horse-drawn cavalry stationed in Fort Oglethorpe. However, after Wood passed away in 1935 and the company was purchased by James F. Gardner, the city of Chattanooga continued to develop into one of the biggest manufacturing cities in the region, and the supply company began selling industrial supplies to match the area’s demand. The company was later purchased by Gardner’s son, James F. Gardner Jr., along with his son-in-law, Leon Henry. Leon Henry became the sole owner in 1991, and the same family manages the company today. Walter A. Wood’s current CEO, David Henry, believes that it’s their approach to running the business that sets them apart and helps them endure throughout the years. Constant investment and training when it comes to their people have always been important, and because of that, their staff averages more than 18 years of employment within the company. The reliability of their inventory has also remained an asset. “We are a little unusual in our industry, as most distributors have a just-in-time approach, but we keep the product on the shelf,” Henry tells us. Though the company has faced challenges, it’s still managed to grow and advance its position in the market. “One of our greatest successes has been the transition from a local distributor to a regional player with a national footprint. We now service customers in every state in the U.S.,” explains Henry. Since they are a supplier, 2020 was actually one of the company’s most successful years since its founding. “Our flexibility from the top down allowed us to change our product offerings, alter our procedures, and create new ways to service our customers,” says Henry. From here, Walter A. Wood hopes to continue its forward momentum by extending its footprint and capturing more market share, all while maintaining the company’s core values.

Photos Courtesy of Walter A. Wood Supply Company



Erlanger Health System EST. 1889 Something that not everyone might know about Erlanger Health System is that Chattanooga actually has the railroads to thank for its origin. In 1889, a French nobleman named Baron Frédéric Emile d’Erlanger, who held financial interests in a number of railroads throughout the region, made a generous donation of $5,000 (over $4 million in today’s dollars) to be used for a hospital in town. The cornerstone for Baroness Erlanger Hospital, named out of appreciation for the baron’s wife, was laid in 1891, and the 72-bed hospital opened its doors to the community a decade after his donation was bestowed. Throughout the years, Erlanger has garnered a myriad of achievements and accolades. In its early history, the hospital founded one of the state’s first nursing schools, and the region’s first open-heart surgery was performed at the hospital in 1960, with the area’s first kidney transplant following there in the ‘80s. Today, Erlanger has seven Tennessee-based hospitals, including a children’s hospital and a behavioral health hospital, as well as three community health centers in Chattanooga. According to Dr. William Jackson, Erlanger’s President and CEO, the origin of Erlanger is what has shaped the hospital system’s core values, even today. “In the beginning, Erlanger was built on philanthropic generosity and the desire to bring healthcare to Chattanooga and the surrounding area. This genesis laid the foundation for our enduring mission and values and tireless passion for the betterment of this region,” he tells us. It’s always been Erlanger’s mission to treat everyone who needs care, regardless of their ability to pay, which has presented some unique financial challenges. But Jackson believes that it’s their people who have perpetuated success for so many decades now. “Our physicians and associates provide compassionate care to this community, including their own families, friends, and colleagues,” he explains. “This enduring spirit is evident in our people – they are the difference-makers, and Lord willing, they will continue to positively impact the health and well-being of our region for another century.” Speaking of the next century, Erlanger hopes to support the community through healthcare by continuing to excel in what they offer. “We strive to improve access to high-quality and cutting-edge care across the region, in everything from prevention to subspecialty services,” Jackson says. 3 2 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

Photos Courtesy of Erlanger Health System

Since 1891, business leaders have looked to Erlanger to provide the care their employees and families need to thrive and grow. That was the year the Baron d’Erlanger saw how much his railroad workers needed a hospital and helped launch the health system that bears his name. Today Erlanger is still the leader providing essential care that keeps the Chattanooga region healthier year after year. Let’s talk about how Erlanger can better serve your business. To learn more about Erlanger and its wide range of services contact Christian Orth with Erlanger’s Business Development at 423-778-4377 or visit


Celebrating 100 Years or More! Acheson Foundry & Machine Works......................................................1899 AdTech Ceramics.........................................................................................1902 Arcade Beauty..............................................................................................1902 Baker Donelson............................................................................................1888 Baylor School................................................................................................1893 The Bright School........................................................................................1913 Brown Fence Co............................................................................................1885 Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. .......................................................1886 Chambliss Center for Children.................................................................1872 Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.......................................1887 Chattanooga Armature Works................................................................1890 Chattanooga Association of Realtors..................................................1912 Chattanooga Bakery, Inc..........................................................................1902 Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Co...................................................1899 Chattanooga Gas Co.................................................................................1869 Chattanooga Printing & Engraving......................................................1910 Chattanooga Times Free Press..............................................................1869 Chattem Chemicals, Inc............................................................................1879 Citizens Savings & Loan ...........................................................................1917 Eureka Foundry Company.......................................................................1902 Fidelity Trust Company.............................................................................1912 First Horizon Bank.......................................................................................1864 Flegal Insurance, Inc...................................................................................1917 Fowler Brothers Co......................................................................................1885 Girls Preparatory School...........................................................................1906 Hamilton County Herald...........................................................................1913 Hubbuch Glass.............................................................................................1917 Humane Educational Society.................................................................1910 John P. Franklin Funeral Home...............................................................1894 Lee University...............................................................................................1918 Lodge Manufacturing Company ..........................................................1896 Mauldin & Jenkins........................................................................................1918 Mayfield Dairy..............................................................................................1910 McCallie School.............................................................................................1905 Miller & Martin...............................................................................................1867 Mohawk Industries......................................................................................1878 Notre Dame High School..........................................................................1876 The Read House...........................................................................................1872 Siskin Steel & Supply Company.............................................................1900 Steward Advanced Materials...................................................................1876 T.T. Wilson Co.................................................................................................1887 Title Guaranty & Trust................................................................................1887 Tivoli Theatre.................................................................................................1921 Top Flight, Inc................................................................................................1920 United States Stove Company...............................................................1869 University of Tennessee - Chattanooga..............................................1886 Yates Bleachery Company.......................................................................1920 Zarzour’s Café...............................................................................................1918 3 4 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

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...Good Question! Top businesspeople reveal their go-to interview questions for job applicants. Job interviews are nerve-racking. There’s a lot of pressure to put your best foot forward – to dazzle, impress, and outshine other candidates vying for the same job you’re trying to land. But while you’re sweating it out to choose your words and draw attention to your most noteworthy resume points, the person on the other side of the table also has a lot riding on this interview. With just a few questions, they need to find the most qualified applicant and the best fit for any available position within their company. So, what sort of questions do they ask? Below, local business leaders tell us what interview question gives them the most revealing answers and why.

Roshan Amin President & CEO, Dynamic Group


I tend to prefer open-ended questions, such as: “Can you share a detailed incident when things went horribly wrong and you were able to recover the situation to a level of service that exceeds your own passionate expectations for the industry?” We want to know what triggered their passion for our industry to see if our core values align, while assessing their actual level of experience. You can’t always tell if an applicant has truly been hands-on in their role or whether they have the necessary skills to complete detailed tasks. This is a great opportunity for the candidate to have the floor and really demonstrate their skills, knowledge, decision-making, instinct, and creativity. It’s a sink-or-swim scenario for them.

Marcus Jones CEO, Magnolia Developments

My go-to interview question is a twopart question: “Why do you seek this job opportunity, and how do your previous experiences qualify you for the position?” This question gets straight to the point on the candidate’s achievements and experiences and how they relate to the position. These questions are key during an interview because they allow the applicant to connect the dots between their written resume and the position. If what is written in their resume is valid, the potential hire should be able to fluidly connect their experience to your position. In addition, these questions allow you the opportunity to look into the candidate’s eyes and feel their passion to advance the goals of the company.

Todd Fortner President & CEO, Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU)

Bryan Johnson

“How can you bring value to our organization?” A good interview question allows the interviewer to glean multiple things about the applicant. On the surface, the question about how a candidate can bring value to the organization is an opportunity for the applicant to share their skills and see if they are a good fit for the position. It is also a chance for the candidate to expand on their past work experiences and share their career goals. But most importantly, it gives vital insight into their preparedness level and job interest. How much time have they invested in learning more about the position and the organization? We seek candidates who are interested in learning more about TVFCU.

Superintendent, Hamilton County Schools

I don’t necessarily have a favorite interview question, but one I always enjoy asking is: “In the last 30 days, what is something in your current role that you wish you had approached differently, and why?” From my view, this question is a good way to evaluate a candidate’s humility, reflectiveness, and proactivity.

Christy Gillenwater CEO, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

Candidates care about career growth and lifestyle quality. When I ask the open-ended question “What is most important to you?” their answers enlighten and help inform our conversation. Some will say that it’s their family. In this context, typically, stability and flexibility will help this person feel deeply connected to the Chattanooga Chamber’s work. Others might say, “making a difference in our community.” Here, ensuring that they understand the Chattanooga Chamber’s mission, values, and purpose will lead to a deeper conversation about what this means. Matching the desire for impact with how we tell the story about our work helps discern whether a candidate will soar within our organization’s culture.



Wade Hinton CEO, Hinton & Company

We should acknowledge that bias can show up in interview questions. So, a question like “Tell me about yourself” could present a challenge for those candidates from cultures that shy away from selfpromotion. The result could be that we miss out on great talent. With that in mind, I tend to ask more behavioral-based questions, and my go-to question is: “Tell me about a time when you failed.” Some of the best characteristics to look for in a candidate are attitude, self-awareness, and ownership. This question allows the applicant to demonstrate all three. It also creates a moment of vulnerability for the candidate and gives the interviewer a sense of how that candidate responds to stressful situations.

Tim Kelly Mayor, City of Chattanooga

It seems simple, but the first question I always ask is: “Why do you want to work here?” The answer to this question will often reveal the candidate’s knowledge about the company and its values. It also gives a little space for anecdotes or stories that will provide a window into their qualifications and, most importantly, their motivations. I’ve often found that there’s a disconnect between a candidate’s qualifications on paper and their real-world aptitude, which is why conversations are so vital to find the best person for the job. An impressive resume is one thing, but without the necessary conviction to carry out the work and a connection to the mission, you can get wildly divergent outcomes. A good candidate can get the work done, but a great candidate will bring passion, competence, and intelligence, as well as the flexibility to grow and learn over time. Hiring decisions can make or break a company or project, and they also affect culture and retention, so it is critical to drill down to an applicant’s motivation.

Keith Sanford President & CEO, Tennessee Aquarium

If it is a management candidate, which is usually who I interview, I say, “Tell me how you deal with problems or difficult employees and how that has worked out.” I want to make sure they deal with problems quickly and effectively to avoid protracted or continuing problems.

Janelle Riley CEO, CHI Memorial Hospital

“What motivates you to work?” This question, to me, seems to reveal one's passions, commitments, and expectations and, for a faith-based organization like ours, helps us discern an individual's mission and compatibility with our organization’s mission. As an example, if a candidate shares that they are motivated by fast-paced work environments or that they love pitching in to solve a crisis, it indicates that they would be open to switching shifts when needed, coming in when it’s all hands on deck, and learning new technologies and protocols as medicine continues to evolve.

Glenn Morris Board Chair, M&M Industries

My go-to interview question is: “Picture your absolutely perfect day at work and tell me, what makes that day so special?” I first tell them about my perfect day and why. That way, I have an example set up for them to understand my question in detail. This also gives them time to think about their answer. The reason I ask this question is that it tells me what they are looking for. Does the job fit their personality? Is it possible that they could have their best workday ever on the job they are applying for? For example, if you are high-energy and move from task to task, and I have a more sedentary job, it lets me know that you may not be happy in this position. 4 0 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM


Photo by Emily Pérez Long

P COUPLES W E R As a business owner, there’s nothing better than having a partner – someone who will be in the trenches with you when the going gets tough and someone to also celebrate successes with. But what happens when your business partner is also your partner in life? Well, for these dynamic husbandwife duos, running a business together offers up a unique sense of support and fulfillment. While the journey may be difficult at times, having each other ultimately results in a better balance, a deeper sense of trust, and business strides that likely wouldn’t have happened if life had transpired in any other way. BY CHRISTINA CANNON




ow do you balance time spent professionally with personal time? JS I’m not sure if there is a balance, and I don’t know if I want one. We do more problemsolving at home, away from the noise, and we take the time to share the struggles with the kids, for teaching moments such as conflict resolution. As a rule, the kids come first no matter what, and that keeps us grounded. What advice would you give someone about to embark on a venture where they will be working with their significant other?

HS It’s important that you share the same values and work ethic. It’s important not to keep score or think your job is more important than your spouse’s because you will ultimately take on different roles to support the company. Your roles will fit together like a puzzle – every piece is just as important as the next. It’s also important not only that you love each other, but that you actually like each other and enjoy one another’s company. What was the process like when it came to defining your roles for your company?

JS It was sink or swim, so we jumped right in and maximized our strengths and minimized our weaknesses. We both have a passion for winning and a keen understanding of how we approach our jobs and what we expect to achieve in the end. I know what she needs from me, she knows what I need from her, and we do it at a high level over and over again until we succeed. How do you encourage and motivate each other professionally? How does this differ from creating drive on a personal level?

HS Jamie and I are fortunate in that we share the same level of drive and


THE STAFFORDS Jamie & Hariett Hair Benders Internationalé and Revive Aesthetics and Wellness Working together since 2003

enthusiasm. If we can dream it up, we are going to try it. If one of us has a lightbulb-moment idea, the other one will build on it. This has benefited us greatly, has given us several great teaching moments, and has definitely grown us as a couple. How has working together impacted your relationship?

JS We have learned to parent and work in complementary roles. Working together allows us to be a unified front for our staff and kids. Everyone is getting the same message all of the time. Hariett is my ride-or-die, and I’ve got her back to the end, so it’s built a new level of trust and understanding. She is spectacular as a human being, and she challenges me to be better and keep pushing. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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hat are some of the benefits and unique challenges of working together?

TL We have the ability to communicate and collaborate on projects in ways we would not otherwise be able to do in a traditional business setting, and we can make instant decisions when necessary for the betterment of the company. Most importantly, we have the ability to speak freely about anything that is on our minds, but it can be difficult to know when it is time and when it’s not to talk about business. What was the process like when it came to defining your roles for your company?

CL We both looked at our strengths and determined what talents we each brought to the company – not just specific skills, but also passion and determination. I don’t think either of us was fully prepared for what would be expected from us, but when you are sinking or swimming, you find the wherewithal to do what has to be done. How do you encourage and motivate each other professionally?

CL Asking for and listening to the other person’s opinion can help form the direction and emphasis that we have on different projects. By giving each other the freedom to make the decisions in the roles we were matched with, it opens the doors up to being able to exceed our potential. What advice would you give someone about to embark on a venture where they will be working with their significant other?

TL Make sure your relationship has a strong foundation of communication. You can’t be shy about your feelings, and I think this has led me to be more 4 6 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

THE LESARS Chris & Tracie Vascular Institute of Chattanooga Working together since 2016

confident in my beliefs, more passionate about my decisions, and more driven to succeed. It is not about me or about him – it is about what we are able to do when we work together. How has working together impacted your relationship?

CL Before Tracie entered into my professional orbit, work was intense and often not talked about when I got home at night. Now that we have a shared interest, it generates a lot of discussion, conversation, and excitement in some of the projects that we work on together. I am constantly impressed with Tracie’s insight and ability to help me to see the other side of problems and to challenge me to be a better person and doctor. Photo by Emily Pérez Long



hat are some of the benefits and unique challenges of working together?

CM I love that we get to bounce ideas off of one another, and we have a very similar work schedule. We also get to see our ideas become reality and enjoy our successes together. On the other hand, we have to be mindful and give one another grace and make sure we’re staying in our own individual work lanes. What advice would you give someone about to embark on a venture where they will be working with their significant other?

BM Don’t let fear stand in the way. Pull from one another’s strengths, and define work roles and goals. Spend time together talking, dating, and enjoying one another’s company outside of work. How do you balance time spent professionally with personal time?

CM This hasn’t always been easy, especially in the early days of working together. We have learned to take time away from work once we are together in the evenings. We have also learned that it is necessary to take vacations, have healthy friendships, spend time enjoying family, never stop dating one another, pray often, and lean on one another at all times.

THE MCCOYS Billy & Connie McCoy Homes Working together since 1992

What was the process like when it came to defining your roles for your business?

BM That wasn’t easy for us, and it took us years of development before we finally obtained our roles, since we worked side by side for so long. Over time, we learned one another’s strengths in business and with other individuals.

mornings, we take time to enjoy a cup of coffee together before we go into work mode. Billy will head off to either the office for meetings or out in the field, and a lot of his day is spent dealing with new clients, existing clients, our land development projects, and mounds of paperwork. Meanwhile, my day is focused on keeping our companies on track behind a computer screen.

What does your typical day together look like?

CM It has strained and strengthened our relationship. At times of growth, it can strain the relationship no matter how strong of a couple we are, but at other times, when things run more smoothly or we reach goals, it strengthens our relationship as we get to celebrate achievements together.

CM Our typical day has come a long way from what it used to look like. Most


How has working together impacted your relationship?

Photo by Rich Smith



hat are some of the benefits and unique challenges of working together? GD The saying “It’s lonely at the top” is often true. When we work together, I know that I have someone I can share ideas and concerns with and will receive honest and genuine feedback. Another benefit is having a friend to talk to when I’m stressed or having a rough day. I don’t have to wait until I get home to have someone trusted to talk to.

THE DHANANIS Alnoor & Gina The Double Cola Company Working together since 2004

What advice would you give someone about to embark on a venture where they will be working with their significant other?

AD The most important areas to be vigilant about are respect and professionalism. When the two of you are almost always together, it is easy to let personal emotions infiltrate your thinking, so one has to show respect for one another and always, always act professionally in the business environment. What was the process like when it came to defining your roles for your company?

GD The process was very deliberate and strategic. As our company has grown, we’ve felt the need to split the company into two divisions: domestic and international. I run our domestic operations and the overall day-today operations, and Alnoor runs the international side. What does your typical day together look like?

AD Since we are involved with different aspects of our business, we don’t see much of each other during work hours, except that we try to always spend our lunchtime together. Occasionally, we take quick walks around downtown and bounce ideas or thoughts off each other.

Photo by Rich Smith

How has working together impacted your relationship?

GD Working together has brought us closer. We’re partners in life and in running the business. We have mutual trust and respect for each other. Alnoor is my confidant, my mentor, my cheerleader, and my friend. It’s great to have your best friend there for everything. How do you balance time spent professionally with personal time?

AD Like many things in our lives, it is always a balancing act, and we try our best not to let the routines of the office environment overwhelm our personal time. We have a very healthy pool of family and friends whom we constantly interact with.




hat are some of the benefits and unique challenges of working together?

KH Being married, you already have a great foundation for a partnership because you know how to communicate, and you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You also benefit from having someone who is always there when you want to discuss an idea. Of course, it can be challenging to not bring work home, but when food is “work,” it’s not all that bad!

THE HAYGOODS Lawton & Karen Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar, Sugar’s Ribs, and SideTrack Working together since 1995

What was the process like when it came to defining your roles for the business?

LH This was pretty easy for us to decide. My kitchen experience basically dictated that as my primary role. Karen’s flight attendant career certainly taught her the necessities of organizing staff and pleasing customers. What advice would you give someone about to embark on a venture where they will be working with their significant other?

KH Openly communicate what succeeding in the industry will require. Owning a business is a labor of love. You don’t go home because you’re tired. You go home when the job is done. You also can’t do it alone. So, hire dedicated employees. Train them well. Pay them well. And keep it fun! Having fun and working can overlap. What does your typical day together look like?

LH After having our morning coffee together, we start by studying reports from managers on the previous day’s events. We then discuss any necessities regarding those events. Next, we work individually (or together) on organizational items, improvement of products, employee issues, and new opportunities. Later in the day, we have dinner and enjoy each other’s company.


How do you balance time spent professionally with personal time?

KH Decades of practice! We do a lot of working lunches but keep dinners free. And when we really need a break, we get out of town. Traveling serves as a great source for new recipes and design ideas. It also gives us a chance to enjoy time with our grandchildren. How do you encourage and motivate each other professionally? How does this differ from creating drive on a personal level?

LH This has never been a challenge for us. At work, we constantly bounce ideas off each other, and we have great confidence in and respect for each other’s work. Creating on a personal level is very similar.

Photo by Rich Smith

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hat are some of the benefits and unique challenges of working together? SB When we got married, we became one. The power of two minds is better than one. It’s all about balance. What one of us lacks in an area, the other has strength.

THE BEATYS Stacy & Wendy Beaty Fabricating, Inc. Working together since 2004

How do you balance time spent professionally with personal time?

WB We balance our professional and personal time by having lunch together almost every single day and dinner together every night, but we understand that both may require a business discussion. I always try to make our evening dining experiences extra special with al fresco candlelight dinners with classical music. What was the process like when it came to defining your roles for your business?

SB Defining the roles in the business was easy. Wendy being our CEO and managing the day-to-day business activities allows me to manage sales and designs for the company. What advice would you give someone about to embark on a venture where they will be working with their significant other?

WB To make things work, first of all, there must be utmost discipline from both people. The other person must be your best friend. If you do not have a deep trust, respect, and confidence in them, it will never work. Me is not in the equation. It must be we. What does your typical day together look like?

SB Our typical day starts at 5:15 a.m. We make the bed together every day. I text Wendy as soon as I get to the office around 6:20 to tell her that I hope she has a great day and


that I love her, and she always reciprocates. Every workday is a minimum of 12 hours – sometimes 16 or 17 during the week – but we always sit down together in the evenings for a nice date-night dinner, and we have lunch together when time allows. When we both work this many hours, it is very important that we end the day with a little relaxation and time together. How has working together impacted your relationship?

WB I could not imagine not sharing our business and days together. It helps us to understand, love, and respect each other more. Our personal life is strengthened because we see what each other goes through in a professional capacity during the day.

Photo by Emily Pérez Long


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hat advice would you give someone about to embark on a venture where they will be working with their significant other?

TU Do it! The benefits outweigh the challenges. If you are madly in love, don’t you want to spend most of your time with that other person? How do you balance time spent professionally with personal time? BU It’s a challenge! One thing we are

learning to incorporate into our weekly lives is honoring and respecting our version of a “sabbath” rest, which also aligns with our faith. This gives us the much-needed time for rest, recreation, family, and essentially all things that are non-work-related.

How has working together impacted your relationship? TU In every way imaginable. Our work

relationship began just before we were married. It has always been our normal. We have gotten to learn each other in an extremely accelerated manner because of this. We know each other very well, and although we have only been married for eight years, it’s as if we have been married for 20 because we spend so much time together. What was the process like when it came to defining your roles for your company? BU We are still defining them somewhat,

but Travis is primarily on the entrepreneurial side (creating the vision and broad structure of WEAVE), and I do a lot of execution (teaching dance classes and administrative work). These roles mostly define themselves. We like to say Travis is the architect and I’m the builder, and in addition to that, we both have a million other roles. We do bump heads sometimes, but 80% of the time, we are working on separate parts of the business.

How do you encourage and motivate each other professionally? TU This is something we could probably

do a better job at, but we do remind each


THE UPTONS Travis & Bernadette WEAVE Dance Company Working together since 2013

other often that the smarter we work now, the more freedom we will have in the future to design what work looks like to us. What are some of the unique challenges of working together? BU Many times our marriage relationship and business relationship collide, and it can be

difficult to separate those. We are learning to recognize when this happens, and with that, recognizing the need to schedule specific times during the day just for us and just for the business. Because we are small business owners, there is always something that you could work on, so it can be difficult to turn it off.

Photo by Emily Pérez Long

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Organizations & People “You don’t build a business; you build people, then people build the business.” – Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker


Raising the Bar

How Young Entrepreneurs in Chattanooga Are Making a Splash BY ANNA HILL PHOTOGRAPHY BY LANEWOOD STUDIO

According to a 2021 study by Guidant Financial, 87% of business owners fall into the Baby Boomer or Gen X age groups – leaving only 13% of the category to Millennials and Gen Z. Venturing into the world of entrepreneurship can be intimidating to younger generations for a number of reasons, and it’s often difficult for them to know where to start. However, resourcefulness and passion can help people go far, no matter their age. Here, we’re shining the spotlight on young founders in Chattanooga who’ve managed to get their own businesses off the ground and thriving. CITYSCOPEMAG.COM « 6 1

Organizations & People

Ella Livingston Founder, Cocoa Asante For Ella Livingston, her business is a way of extending her family’s legacy. “I was born in Ghana, the country where the world’s best cocoa beans are grown, and my family has been a part of the cocoa industry for several generations as farmers,” she explains. Livingston’s business, Cocoa Asante, is a premium chocolate company selling handcrafted chocolate bonbons and bars that are made with cocoa beans sourced from her home country. Her chocolates can be ordered online, but you can also find them in local shops and establishments around town. Livingston certainly experienced a learning curve when starting her business – not only because of her young age, but also due to her lack of experience as a professional chocolatier. After diligent research and lots of trial and error, she honed her craft, which in turn was good for business. “As I improved as a chocolatier, so did my confidence as an entrepreneur. I knew I had developed an incredible product that people would enjoy,” she shares. Cocoa Asante began as a one-woman business, with Livingston doing everything herself. However, doing everything herself didn’t necessarily mean she was alone. “I was lucky to have access to a network of individuals who mentored me in all of these areas so that I could become a jack of all trades,” says Livingston. “Now I am at the stage where I am learning to replace myself with other qualified individuals and delegate tasks so that I can focus on growing my business.” These days, Livingston is thriving as a selfemployed entrepreneur. Not only is her time spent working on something that’s dear to her heart, but she can also craft a schedule that works best for her as a wife and mother. “Despite working even more than I did as an employee, having the freedom to decide how and where I will invest my time is one of the best things about owning my own company,” she says. As for advice to other young people who dream of starting their own business, Livingston leaves us with this: “Sometimes belief in yourself and your idea or product is the only thing that’ll keep you going, especially when you are continuously told no. Stay motivated, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and understand that failing is an integral part of the process because it allows you to learn.”


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Organizations & People

Gabrielle Blades Lead Designer & Owner, Blades Creative Design Studio Though Gabrielle Blades never imagined one day owning her own business, she’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit. “When I was a kid, I would pretend to have a greeting card business in our sunroom and tried to sell art classes at recess,” she explains. Early in her career in design, Blades supplemented her employment with contract work, which made her realize her passion for helping entrepreneurs build and visualize their dreams. Eventually, Blades realized that she had reached the point where she was working full-time for herself. “It took a long time to even realize I was a business owner, but when I got my own office space, it felt real, and I was ready to grow,” she shares. Now, Blades is the owner and lead designer for her own business – Blades Creative Design Studio. She and her team offer branding and packaging design to businesses of any size and pride themselves on the creative partnerships they maintain by collaborating with their clients. As Blades’ background is in the field of design and not business, her ability to problem-solve really helped her go places starting out. “Using that skill, I was able to teach myself how to run a business. I had to learn to create project proposals, invoice my clients, implement contracts, and take on administrative tasks as I went,” she explains. To Blades, taking control of her business also equated to taking control of her life. “I get to have full control over the business, molding and shaping it into what it needs to be over time. Knowing that I have built something from the ground up and that I can continue to do so without having to stay the same is so incredibly satisfying,” says Blades. She’s also grateful for the confidence she’s gained from running her own business. While she used to doubt herself often in the beginning stages of her career, she’s learned to trust her own intuition and decision-making at an earlier age than most. Blades’ words of wisdom for other young aspiring entrepreneurs center on the importance of hard work and empathy. “It’s a lot of work. You have to go through really hard work and hard lessons for several years before you get to relax,” she advises. “However, if you’re doing your best work and being kind, then you will always be okay.” 6 4 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

Organizations & People

Kate Izell Founder & CEO, Izell Marketing Group Becoming an entrepreneur at 27 wasn’t something Kate Izell necessarily set out to do – it just happened gradually. “I actually started as a digital marketing freelancer, but the operation naturally developed into a company as I continued to get new clients and didn’t want to turn away businesses that I knew I could help,” she explains. Izell’s initial inspiration for her work was a desire to help small businesses afford high-quality marketing services that they might not have had the budget to secure from larger agencies. Now, Izell is the CEO of Izell Marketing Group, which works to provide digital marketing strategy as well as ongoing marketing and analytics services to clients. Perhaps the biggest challenge Izell faced as a young entrepreneur was learning how to combine her passion and values with the nittygritty of operating a business. “I spent a lot of time learning everything I could early on about business finance, operations, and growth. I generally tried to bridge all the gaps in what I knew versus what I needed to know,” she shares. As her clientele grew, Izell also learned the importance of making good hires. “I had to figure out how to not just build a team of intelligent, competent people; I needed the team to balance out and work well independently and collaboratively. This dynamic can get complicated as more people get brought on,” Izell explains. “Having a leadership team in place that I can trust unequivocally has been key.” In becoming a business owner, operations and hiring aren’t the only things Izell has learned a lot about. “One of the big things I’ve learned is who I am as an entrepreneur and what my role means to the company over time,” she says. “I need to stay focused on what’s ahead, which makes it challenging to focus on some of the finer details of our current operations. Consequently, I recently decided to promote my first hire to be our Chief Operating Officer so that all of these critical processes could be handled by someone other than myself.” Six years of business have helped Izell learn where she fits within an organization and taught her what’s important about being at the helm. “Effective leaders are those who understand the value of what others do for you and your business,” she advises. CITYSCOPEMAG.COM « 6 5

Organizations & People

Matt Schroeder CEO, Shelly Cove Matt Schroeder has always had a passion for entrepreneurship, and with his brand, Shelly Cove, he’s channeled that passion into a business that gives back. Shelly Cove is a company that sells women’s apparel, bags, and accessories directly to consumers with a mission that primarily supports sea turtle conservation. “To date, we’ve donated over $300,000 to good causes,” says Schroeder. You can see the brand’s dedication to conservation in action simply by shopping with them. Every time you place an order, you’ll receive a unique “turtle tracking code” that allows you to keep up with a rehabilitating sea turtle. While to many, founding a business while you’re still college-age may sound next to impossible, Schroeder says that there were both pros and cons to getting started at such a young age. “When you’re that young and naïve about business and life, there can be a bit of a ‘gung ho’ attitude toward starting and growing a company. This can either cause you to fail fast or succeed quickly. Thankfully, I think we fell into the second bucket,” he shares. Even today, Schroeder still faces some challenges due to his young age, such as achieving lines of credit at the bank. “A 25-year-old is naturally going to be a little more of a risk,” he adds. One of Schroeder’s favorite things about owning and running his own business is the opportunity to be creative and try new things constantly. “Those things aren’t a perk of the job – they’re actually a requirement. But I love that, so that works in my favor,” he explains. He also appreciates how much running Shelly Cove has improved his leadership and problem-solving skills. Schroeder shares, “I’d like to meet high school me once more, because we are now completely different people.” In hindsight, Schroeder can say that one of the most important components of starting a business at a young age is just that – getting started. “It’s so easy to let the wheels spin and never actually begin,” he says. He advises younger generations to drop the guru books and the how-to videos online and be more proactive. “Go door-todoor if you have to,” Schroeder recommends.


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Organizations & People

Santosh Sankar Co-Founder & Partner, Dynamo Ventures In 2016, Dynamo Ventures emerged on the scene as one of the first – if not the first – supply chain and mobility seed stage investors. “It was obvious to our partnership that we should invest in and support the entrepreneurs digitizing the backbone of the global economy – the supply chain,” says Santosh Sankar, co-founder and partner at Dynamo. Supply chain accounts for 10% of GDP, and the last year has emphasized how important supply chains are to our daily lives, as short stock of daily necessities and the logistics of vaccine distribution have affected nearly everyone. “Our mission is three-fold,” Sankar shares. “We believe that we can be an amazing partner to the founders of our portfolio companies, generate excellent returns for our investors, and have fun pioneering the investment of innovation in a heritage industry.” Sankar is aware that being such a young partner in venture capital can create a different dynamic compared to what he


might experience if he were older. “It requires extra patience, humility, and self-awareness when dealing with peers, LPs, and founders,” he explains. “Over time, one’s reputation among founders, LPs, and the broader market tends to galvanize your position in the industry.” As his career has progressed, Sankar has honed numerous professional skills, but perhaps one of the most important ones thus far has been communication – more particularly, conversations he has to have with companies to better ground them in reality. “Without a doubt, one of the skills I’ve had to develop is the communication and delivery of difficult news. As a venture investor, the least favorite part of my job is saying no to 99% of the companies that pitch us – it comes with the territory,” he says. “Equally, I have to regularly ground optimistic founders to the realities of the world. It’s important to be mindful of their personality and to deliver the message in a way that is sensitive to their emotions but still direct and not sugar-coated.” To other young people looking to start up their own companies, Sankar advises that they first seek some experience via the excellent training they can receive at a high-growth company, then commit fully to their own idea. “Building a business is hard work and cannot be done with 100% excellence unless the founders have total focus,” he says.

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The Business of Building

At McCoy Homes, we succeed because we listen to our clients. We collaborate with them and we work to meet their needs. We tailor the homebuilding experience - from design through construction - around them. We invite our clients into our collaborative, multi-media conference

center, we provide a comfortable space for their children to play while they're here, and we make sure that they have access to the industry's best and most current materials and finishes through our comprehensive resource library. The business of building a luxury, custom home really isn't all that complicated. You just have to be fully committed to a customer-first approach. Billy McCoy

President + CEO

Organizations & People

Briana Garza Co-Founder & Owner, Chatt Taste Food Tours + Taste of Chattanooga Box The inspiration for Briana Garza’s business was not so much a what, but a where. “There’s just something inspiring about the buzz of productivity in communal workspaces like coffee shops,” she tells us. Garza had always wanted to pursue her own projects, but she was pushed to take the plunge when her mother suffered a stroke. “So many ideas and concepts she wanted to pursue but no longer had the opportunity. This gave me the confidence to take the jump,” Garza explains. Now, Garza is the owner of Chatt Taste Food Tours, which offers a unique way for people to experience the Scenic City through food. “All tour guides are trained in Chattanooga history and are very passionate about food culture,” she shares. Each food tour includes meeting the executive chefs of the restaurants, and the meals are curated to match the preferences of each guest. Guests are treated to original small plates crafted just for them, making the tour an exclusive experience for the individual. Garza has found running her own business for the first time to be a learning experience in many ways. She shares, “In order to combat not being taken seriously, I utilized two key strategies – being confident in the skills I have previously harnessed in my life and being open to advice.” Garza has also learned the importance of being able to pivot. The initial vision of Chatt Taste was simply focused on food, but today, the mission of the business is to tell the story of Chattanooga by bringing people together to learn about the city’s history, transformation, and perseverance, particularly through the lens of the restaurant industry. Since the business’s inception, Garza has proudly watched it grow and evolve, and she’s grateful for all the support that she’s had. “The confidence to take the leap came from the support of strategic partnerships, mentors, friends, family, and my 9-year-old daughter, who believes that her mommy can do anything,” she says. Now that she’s gotten some experience as a business owner under her belt, Garza believes that being new to entrepreneurship can be an advantage. “There is nothing better than the feeling of taking the leap – the energy that comes at this stage is unparalleled. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, be okay with being told no, and accept mentors,” she advises. 7 0 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

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Organizations & People

Adelle Pritchard Founder & Co-Owner, Adelle’s Creperie “I fell in love with cooking from watching The Food Network and started experimenting in the kitchen long before the Creperie opened,” shares Adelle Pritchard. As for the answer to the question “Why crepes?” it turns out that Pritchard has long associated them with family, friends, and comfort. “Growing up, my family celebrated Pancake Day every year – a tradition my dad brought with him from England,” she explains. (The English refer to crepes as pancakes.) On this day, her family would cook up hundreds of crepes at large family gatherings, which has become an incredibly fond memory for Pritchard. So, naturally, when it came to conceptualizing a business, a creperie made complete sense. Pritchard is now in high school, but she opened Adelle’s Creperie with her parents when she was just 12 years old. A breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot, the Creperie serves crepes along with other fresh, healthy dishes such as rice bowls, salads, and omelettes. The restaurant also has an accompanying food truck, which they take out for local events as well


as private parties. At Adelle’s Creperie, they believe that a restaurant’s environment is just as important as the food, so the space is decked out with local art, antiques, and plants to create a cozy, welcoming ambience. Though Pritchard had the expertise of her parents, Ken and Carla, to lean on while opening a restaurant at the age of 12, the process certainly wasn’t without its own unique set of challenges. Pritchard faced obstacles that other entrepreneurs often don’t, such as navigating a schedule that balanced school and the restaurant, as well as the mental demands of being a teenager working among adults. “I learned early on that some people have a hard time viewing service workers, including restaurant staff, as human. I grew up quickly, but I don’t regret any part of it,” she says. Though it hasn’t always been easy, opening a business at such a young age has given Pritchard the gift of confidence. “Now, I trust myself enough to know that a setback doesn’t define me,” she explains. “If I quit every time something went wrong, the restaurant would have closed a long time ago. Opening your own business means putting a lot of yourself on the line, so confidence in yourself and your brand is key.”

Organizations & People

Kelsey Vasileff Founder & Owner, Southern Squeeze Kelsey Vasileff has always had a passion for making healthy choices and helping others do the same. For her, opening Southern Squeeze was following this passion on a community-wide level. “In 2014, I decided to take matters into my own hands, form an incredible team, take some risks, and try my hand at being my own boss,” she says about starting her own business. Southern Squeeze is a healthy food destination café that features a 100% organic, plant-based, gluten-safe, dairy- and refined sugar-free menu. They prioritize food and drink that’s always fresh, house-made from scratch, and free of any artificial ingredients. “We strive to provide a menu that offers the highest-quality, most nutrient-dense plant-based food options in the world,” Vasileff shares. Offerings at Southern Squeeze currently include salads, toasted sandwiches, healthy bowls, and other light meal options, as well as smoothies and drinks.

Vasileff has learned a lot since starting up Southern Squeeze at such a young age. “It’s been thrilling, but it’s been hard, too,” she explains. “It was really challenging being the same age and sometimes younger than some of the team that worked for me. Learning to manage people and team dynamics has been a huge part of the journey so far.” It’s important to Vasileff that she maintains a wonderful work environment at her café’s location – which is soon to be expanding – so handling different personalities has been a vital skill for her to learn, along with patience, managing accounts, and staying on top of sourcing and ordering for her menu. “One of the best things about running your own business is the sense of purpose that comes with it,” Vasileff explains. “It feels like we’re offering something that improves the community and that we’re really making a change.” As for parting words she’d like to leave with young, aspiring entrepreneurs, she says, “Don’t let the world or other people’s thoughts and opinions scare you from starting your own business. The best path for you is the one you’ll walk yourself.”


Ryan Hood started his own accounting firm in 2019 from ground zero. Two years and a pandemic later, Hood, CPA & Associates services over 400 clients (and counting). The firm’s mission? To provide every client with the services available at a large accounting firm, with the personality and service of a small firm. Here’s how Hood and his firm can assist your business.

(Back, from L to R) Tracy R. Hughes, Stephanie J. Rogers, Liza A. Brown, Sarah K. Puglise, CPA, and Kelly L. Turner (Front) Ryan J. Hood, CPA

How We Got Here

Hood, CPA & Associates was founded in 2019 to fill a gap in the local accounting landscape. “I saw that the Chattanooga area was saturated with more traditional CPA firms,” explains owner Ryan Hood. “I wanted to start a more contemporary firm that concentrated on employee fulfillment and client satisfaction, and I knew the rest would fall into place.” Built from the ground up with three employees and no clients, the firm has already weathered a global pandemic and the challenges that came with it – and hired three additional employees in the process. Now, with more than 400 clients in and around Chattanooga, Hood, CPA & Associates has established itself as a force in the community. “What has remained constant over the last two years is our dedication to service,” says Hood. “As long as you put the client first, work hard, and are always honest and fair, we’ve found that any challenge can be overcome.”

Who We Serve

Hood, CPA & Associates services any size of small business – from one employee to 50 employees. Additionally, the firm services highnet-worth individuals and W2 employees. “Our main services consist of tax consulting, tax preparation, bookkeeping services, payroll services, financial statements, and business valuations,” says Hood. The firm’s expertise is in real estate, contractors, and manufacturing, although Hood also has experience working with doctors, dentists, and several service industries. “I want people to know that whatever the size and scope of your business, we have a service that can be of value to you,” Hood says. “When reporting to the federal government, for example, a CPA will make sure that every rule is followed and every variable is considered. Let us handle the accounting while you put your business first.”

What Sets Us Apart

Service-driven and relationship-focused, the team at Hood, CPA & Associates stands apart. In 2020 – the firm’s first year of business – it was named “Best of the Best” by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “I think clients recognize our personable service, forward-thinking expertise, and unmatched work ethic,” Hood explains. “I give the majority of my clients my personal cell number so that they can contact me via text, call, or email at any time. And, the firm also has a 24-hour policy that all of our clients’ questions are responded to within that timeframe. Our philosophy is that we will always be accountable to our clients.”

Meet Ryan J. Hood, CPA

Ooltewah native Ryan Hood is the founder and owner of Hood, CPA & Associates. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance. Hood is a member of the AICPA and Tennessee Society of CPAs, and he has 18 years of accounting experience, having worked for multiple firms before starting Hood, CPA & Associates in 2019. Hood and his wife, Rachel, have three children and enjoy spending time together as a family.

“My best advice is to hire a CPA so that you can focus on growing your business. Let my expert team take on your accounting needs – we give you the time needed to develop your business to its fullest potential.” Ryan Hood


What My Mother Taught Me Daughters share how their mothers influenced them to be the successful workers they are today. PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICH SMITH SHOT ON LOCATION AT CHURCH ON MAIN


he bond between mothers and daughters is like nothing else. It’s a special connection forged by love, understanding, and respect. Mothers are caregivers by nature and teachers by trade. They know how to pick up the pieces when disaster strikes and how to mend wounds, both literal and unseen. Behind so many successful women are the mothers who inspired and encouraged them every step of the way. That’s certainly the case for these women, who share – in their own words – what they’ve learned from their mothers and how they apply that knowledge to their personal and professional lives.



Organizations & People

Teresa Dinger Siskin Hospital, Vice President of Patient Access & Marketing Mother: Donna Calbough, Owner of Donna’s Goodie Baskets My mother has always been and will always be my biggest inspiration. She is one of the most selfless and giving people I know, and for her, family is everything. At a young age, she instilled in me a strong faith and the importance of praying for God’s direction in my life. Her unconditional love and support have always made me feel that anything is possible. She ingrained in me that anything worth doing is worth doing well – doing something halfway is simply not an option. Half-hearted work does not breed creativity, and my mother is one of the most creative people I know. As a child, she would throw special holiday and themed parties for my friends and me, well before there was Pinterest or Hobby Lobby. She came up with it all on her own, and the invitations and favors were all handmade. Following her lead, I have loved doing the same things for my children, especially with her by my side. Another critical lesson that she has passed down to me, and one I have passed down to my own daughter, is that no matter what life throws your way, never underestimate the power of a cute pair of shoes and lipstick to make you feel better.


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Companies Organizations & People

Destiny Richardson City of Chattanooga, Capital Projects Coordinator Mother: Carolyn Lawhorn, Retired Nurse, Public Health Program Director, & Educator My mother’s sacrifice and her big heart mean everything to me. She is my inspiration and my biggest cheerleader. She has always persevered and never let her circumstances hold her back in any way. She is a first-generation college graduate and a retired nurse and educator. But she wasn’t just a nurse by profession – she was the family and community nurse, too. I watched her visit the sick and elderly and reach back to aspiring nurses, providing support and resources to help them along the way. She set the stage for me to become the next college graduate in our family, receiving both bachelor’s and master’s degrees just as she did. I didn’t enter the medical field, but I still have the same love for people. I have always served the public in some capacity, from banking to city government. The desire to help people is my passion, and her caring heart influences me to serve. My mother shows me that our lives and our successes are not just about us. They are for others. I encourage my children to follow their dreams as she did for me. I also take time for other young people, to give wisdom and guidance on their journey, as I have seen her do so many times. The best advice my mother ever gave me was to serve others and never give up. Paying it forward has been a way of life for her, and the ripple effect changes the world. No matter what obstacles come your way, stay the course and never give up. As a public servant and mother myself, I’m grateful for everything my mom has taught me, and I will pass these gems down along the way. Perseverance and service are values of a great legacy!



Ronelle Sellers CHI Memorial Market Director, Marketing Communications Mother: Flavia Fleming, Retired High School Business Teacher & Church Pianist My mother and I have spent countless hours over the years in conversation, but I have learned the most from her actions. For as long as I can remember, I watched her give of herself to others – by sending cards of encouragement, calling to check on those going through a rough time, serving faithfully as the church pianist for 60 years, and teaching Sunday School. She has always started her day praying for those on her prayer list and reading her Bible. It gives me great peace to know she is constantly praying for me. She taught me to always give my very best and instilled in me the belief that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. My first lessons in business were from her. She was the Future Business Leaders of America sponsor at my high school, and I watched her work with countless companies to help her business students land great jobs. Her best advice is to give every situation to God, and only buy on sale! Any success I have achieved, you can be sure it was because I had an incredible mom picking me up each time I fell, dusting me off, and boosting my confidence so I could go back out to face the next challenge.

Organizations & People

Companies Organizations & People

Alison Goldstein Lebovitz Motivational Speaker, TV Host, Author, & Podcaster Mother: Arlene Goldstein, Retired Fashion Director My mom spent 35 years in the fashion industry, serving as everything from Fashion Director to Vice President of Fashion Direction and Trend Merchandising for Parisian, Saks, and Belk, before retiring in 2015. And while she is still the ultimate fashionista, she has always taught my siblings and me that true grace, style, and beauty are more than skin deep. If you’ve met my mom, you understand where I (hopefully) inherited my poise, personality, and penchant for public speaking. She has never met a stranger who didn’t become a fast friend, and she is kind, considerate, and cool in equal measure. She is both my fashion guru and most influential female role model and consistently shows me what to wear and how to act by her example. I have lost count of the number of times friends have asked, “What does your mother think?” Her opinion matters to the people around her, because she makes the people around her feel like they matter. While shoulder pads may come and go, and hemlines tend to rise and fall, my mother’s support is a constant in my life. Fashion may be fleeting, but Arlene Goldstein is timeless.

Because Results Make The Difference Experience and Sales • Chattanooga natives


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Organizations & People Companies

Shawanna Kendrick Founder & Owner, The H20 Life, LLC Mother: Charlean H. Kendrick, Retired Educator To some, she’s Mrs. Kendrick, the retired-yet-still-firm elementary school teacher and one of the first AfricanAmerican teachers to integrate East Lake Elementary School. To others, she is a wife, the oldest of nine siblings, a friend, and so much more. To me, however, she’s “Mom” or “Ma!” depending on what’s going on in my life. She is and always has been my rock – my loving, caring, and God-fearing example of womanhood. Because of her, I know how to be strong and independent, but also kind and gentle. I’ve learned how to stay the course, laugh, cry, question, and most importantly, persevere. She displayed these traits as she meticulously taught my sister and me the things only mothers can teach: how to handle difficult situations with style and grace, how to position yourself for future success, and how to take care of your own well-being.


Photo by Emily Pérez Long

Common House Chattanooga

Your Vision is Our Passion T. U. Parks is known for superb craftsmanship and attention to every detail. Using innovative problem solving and collaboration with our valued clients, owners, architects and partners throughout the region, we create truly beautiful spaces for work and play. No matter the size or scope of a new construction project – like the PIE Innovation Center or a historic restoration like Common House – we’re committed to the highest standards of service and performance. We listen to understand your needs – and work closely with you to implement your vision.

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Running a successful family business is already hard work, but keeping that business in the family is even more of a challenge. According to a report from the Harvard Business Review, only 30% of family-owned businesses last into the second generation, and only 12% remain viable into the third. There are plenty of reasons for this, including evolving family dynamics, shifts in the economy, and faltering enthusiasm about the brand as times change. The businesses that do survive into multigenerational growth have a lot to be proud of — not only for beating the odds, but also for servicing their communities every step of the way. That’s certainly true of these family businesses, which are some of the many that have been a part of the greater Chattanooga area for at least three generations and continue to provide for the customers who have become like family themselves.


Organizations & People

Brody Jewelers Founded in 1937


o locals, the name Brody is synonymous with fine jewelry, classic timepieces, premier elegance, and high-quality estate pieces. Located in Rossville, Brody Jewelers has been a staple of the community for more than 80 years. Louis I. Brody opened the business as the Rossville Pawn Shop in 1937. It then passed on to his son Edward “Sonny” Brody and Sonny’s wife Helen, who converted it into a jewelry store in the 1960s. Today, Brody Jewelers is owned and operated by their children: Michael Brody, Cindy Brody Sirota, and Louis Brody. The three siblings split duties as owners. They’ve all worked at Brody Jewelers in some capacity from as far back as they can remember. The eldest, Michael, has been there the longest. “I never really left,” he says. Middle child Cindy stepped away for 10 years and attended The Gemological Institute of America in California, where she became the first female resident graduate from the state of Tennessee. Louis, the youngest, has been there for his entire working life, only leaving to attend college. Tragedy struck Brody Jewelers in 2018 when Cindy’s son Brent – a fourth-generation employee of the family business – unexpectedly passed away. But the Brody legacy won’t end there; the family says that their other children will eventually step in and keep the business thriving. But even with future generations in charge, the Brody siblings say they’ll never stray far from their store. It’s the family way, after all. “Even if Michael and I retire, we’re still going to be coming in a couple of days a week,” Cindy says. “Just the way Mom and Dad did. We’re all going to be here. We’ll always have each other’s backs.”


Michael Brody, Cindy Brody Sirota, and Louis Brody

Photo by Rich Smith

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Organizations & People

Larry Parks and Robert Parks

T.U. Parks Construction Company Founded in 1944


.U. Parks Construction Company is an institution in the Greater Chattanooga Area. It’s the oldest general contracting firm in the region, providing services such as design-build and construction management for commercial, industrial, and residential sectors. It’s also behind the construction and restoration of some of the most iconic structures in the community, including CHI Memorial’s surgery center addition and the renovation of the historic Read House Hotel. The company was founded more than 70 years ago by its namesake and sole proprietor, T.U. Parks. He later converted the business into a partnership with his two sons and son-in-


law. After he passed away in 1973, his sons, C.A. “Red” and Homer Parks, transitioned it to a corporation they managed until 1987. Red and his son Larry became sole owners after that. Today, Larry Parks serves as chairman and CEO of the company, overseeing the business side of the operation. The business is now in its fourth generation, with Larry’s son Robert as a senior project manager. Larry cites Chattanooga’s unique entrepreneurial spirit as part of what makes the city a great home for T.U. Parks Construction Company. “Chattanooga is a big little town where your reputation still matters,” he says. The company’s sound reputation – and the longstanding commitment of many employees who have become like family – is most certainly part of its success and survival. Through the ups and downs, including the financial crisis of 2008, the business remained a vital part of the local economy and continues to build and restore the attractions that make Chattanooga worthy of its “Scenic City” nickname – which needn’t apply just to mountain views, but architectural ones, too. “With each generation come new ideas, new solutions, and new approaches to doing the work we love to do,” says Larry. “There will always be challenges, but that’s also what makes the job so interesting and so much fun.”

Photo by Rich Smith



At the Austin Sizemore Team, we put our clients first in every aspect of our business. By perfecting the craft of real estate, participating in the betterment of our community, and taking great pride in the relationships we build - we work relentlessly to provide an exceptional client experience with an efficient, thoughtful perspective woven into every aspect of each transaction.





TN 37404

Organizations & People

Talley Green, Myers Dickinson, Tennyson Dickinson, and Adrienne Rhodes

Lake Winnepesaukah Founded in 1925


ummer’s just not right without an amusement park trip. Luckily, Chattanoogans don’t have to travel far to get their thrill-ride fix. They have Lake Winnepesaukah – better known as Lake Winnie – right in their backyard. Located in Rossville, the park has entertained guests since its grand opening almost 100 years ago. Attractions include the Boat Chute, the oldest mill-chute water ride of its kind; the Cannon Ball, a beloved wooden roller coaster that opened in 1967; and the five-acre SoakYa water park expansion. Carl and Minette Dixon founded Lake Winnie, which is still in the family, five generations on. Their granddaughter, Adrienne Rhodes, now runs the park alongside her daugh-


ters, Talley Green and Tennyson Dickinson. Tennyson’s son Myers is also a full-time employee. The family members have official titles at the company, but that’s more of a formality. “When you’re a family-operated amusement park, you have to be willing to chip in and do whatever’s needed on any given day,” says Tennyson. “Our overall role is to put smiles on customers’ faces.” “Titles don’t mean much,” adds Talley. “It’s about getting the job done and making the best guest experience possible.” Lake Winnie enters its 96th season this year, fresh off a challenging 2020 that saw closures and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Lake Winnie persevered, and the family is ready to get back to regular business. Their motto this year is, “The fun is back.” “In a world of troubles and strife and obstacles, it’s great to work at a place where our mission is to make people happy,” says Tennyson. “Where people can forget their daily worries and forget about their bills and hardships and just come for fun and pure joy.”

Photo by Emily Pérez Long

Organizations & People

Trey Douglas Leroy Bradshaw III, Dusty Bradshaw, William Benjamin Bradshaw, Gage King, and Douglas Bradshaw

Bea’s Restaurant Founded in 1950


here’s nothing quite like a home-cooked, family-style Southern meal. But at Bea’s Restaurant on Dodds Avenue in Chattanooga, the food is just a fraction of the overall experience. The fried chicken is crisped to golden perfection, and the cobbler is as sweet as can be, but nothing’s better than the sense of community that comes through the doors. Bill and Beatrice “Bea” Steele opened Bea’s in 1950. It began as a lunch option for the blue-collar workers putting in time at the surrounding manufacturing plants. The plants slowly closed, but Bea’s Restaurant pushed through. Today, it’s a staple for neighborhood families and curious visitors alike. Dusty Bradshaw,

Photo by Rich Smith

the Steeles’ great-grandson, runs the business with his father, Doug. Several other family members pitch in, too; they wait on tables, serve plates of food on the restaurant’s trademark lazy Susans, and keep the family business running after five generations. Dusty started working in the restaurant at an early age and saw it through several hurdles, including COVID-19. For the first time in 70 years, Bea’s closed its doors to the public – though it continued to feed the community via online deliveries. This year, they’re back to near-regular business, and if the lines out the door are any indication, they show no signs of slowing down any time soon. For Dusty, being a part of his family business and providing for his community – even through uncertain times – is the joy of a lifetime. “To be able to work with my father and my children, you can’t put a monetary value on it,” he says. “It’s worth more than the money.”


Organizations & People

Brewer Media Group Founded in 1987


adio is a generational connective tissue – a form of media enjoyed by grandparents and grandchildren alike. For the Brewer family, it’s even more of a family stronghold. They’ve been in the radio business for more than 70 years – first in Tell City, Indiana, before coming to Chattanooga in 1986. Once known as The Chattanooga Company, they originally owned just one station, WJTT Power 94, in the city. These days, Brewer Media Group operates five radio stations, the weekly alternative publication The Pulse, and the Chattanooga Traffic Network. James L. “Jim” Brewer Sr. started the company with his wife Vicki and son James L. Brewer II when they bought WJTT. Jim Sr. says his son played a significant role in the growth of the company. Tragically, Jim II passed away in 2018 after a battle with cancer, but his legacy endures. His


Vicki Brewer, James L. “Jim” Brewer Sr., James Brewer III, Danielle Swindell, Jessica Rossman, and Kira Brewer Headlee

daughter, Danielle Swindell, has worked for the company for 19 years and currently serves as the national sales manager and director of corporate sponsorships. His son James Brewer III has been there for nine years and is the traffic manager. Jim and Vicki’s daughter, Kira Brewer Headlee, has been overseeing office operations for the last 20 years and day-to-day operations for the last two. She’s been with the company a total of 28 years. Her daughter Jessica Rossman works in Brewer’s accounting department. But according to Jim Sr., the Brewers aren’t the only ones responsible for keeping the business so family-oriented. Many of its employees have been with the company since its inception and feel like family, too. Together, they “share a sense of community commitment that is central to the local radio broadcasting interests of today,” Jim says. They also work together to deal with challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant suspending print editions of The Pulse. Through it all, Brewer Media Group has remained strong and continues to serve its markets with diverse program formats that serve diverse audiences.

Photo by Emily Pérez Long

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Organizations & People

Trey White, Tommy White, Thomas White IV, and Jay Donnelly

Athens Distributing of Chattanooga Founded in 1961


thens Distributing has been a part of the Chattanooga community since 1961, and this wine and spirits distributing business is now in its fourth generation. Howard White Sr. and John “Chink” Donnelly started Athens in 1946, and Howard’s son, Tommy White, along with John S. “Jockey” Martin, opened the Chattanooga branch. Today, Tommy’s son, Trey White, serves as president, overseeing operations in the city. But the family involvement doesn’t end there. Athens Chattanooga’s executive vice president of sales, Jay Donnelly,


and Trey’s son, Thomas White IV, are part of the business’s fourth generation. Other family members work at other locations and in different divisions. Together, they make Athens Distributing the reliable name brand that it is. Through the years, Athens has also adapted to updated alcohol regulations. When wine sales opened to grocery stores, for instance, it required major changes and was one of the biggest challenges the company ever faced. “Navigating these changes has not been without some bumps along the way, but we desire to continue the hard work of making this a successful company, just as those who came before us did so well,” says Trey. “In most situations, we have found that effective communication is key.” With a solid family foundation at its core, Athens is primed for whatever comes next. In the meantime, Trey hopes to keep making the first, second, and third generations of his family proud. “It is a great honor to represent our family business and one that I have never taken lightly,” he says. “I strive to make Athens Distributing of Chattanooga the best that it can be every single day.”

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Industries & Trends “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” – Malcolm Gladwell




The farm-to-table movement has been skyrocketing in popularity over the past decade for many reasons – all of them good. Local and regional products have become a priority to many consumers for not only the sake of nutrition and freshness, but also out of a desire for more ethically and sustainably sourced food and drink. Restaurants who source ingredients locally, as well as the diners who patronize these restaurants, also boost their local economies by keeping their dollars circulating in their own communities. Knowing where your food comes from is incredibly important in the realm of farm-to-table. Here, we’re featuring local farmers and restaurateurs who are part of this movement in the greater Chattanooga area, and they can tell you all about your dinner’s journey from the farm to your fork.


Industries & Trends

Sequatchie Cove Farm & Creamery Kelsey Keener, Farm Partner / Padgett Arnold, Creamery Co-Owner Tell us a little bit about your farm and what you do. What got you into it? KK: Sequatchie Cove Farm is 300 acres of land in the

Sequatchie Valley. We raise organic produce, grass-fed beef, lamb, organic pasture-raised chicken, eggs, and pork. We have been in operation since 1999, and there are currently four generations living on the farm. PA: My husband Nathan and I own and operate Sequatchie Cove Creamery, a farmstead creamery producing cow’s milk and cheeses on Sequatchie Cove Farm. We have been farming alongside the Keener family since about 2002. We are passionate about high-quality local food, seasonal food preparation and culture, and building community through our connection to food and farming. Why do you think the farm-to-table concept is important? PA: I believe in bringing about mindfulness and a closer

connection to our food. Recognizing that connection while building communities and economic prosperity – whether it be through farming, food service and hospitality, or other means of engagement – is a key component of creating a better future. The farm-to-table concept easily meshes with this philosophy and has clearly made an impact on furthering this movement.

What’s the best part about working with local restaurants specifically? KK: Working with restaurants is great because they can

order more volume and are able to help spread the word to folks who may not know about us yet. We’ve even started partnering with some chefs to do on-farm meals, and we also sell to some local grocery stores.

Kelsey Keener and Padgett Arnold

What are some of the biggest challenges you face when it comes to running your business? KK: Farming is tough. There are so many unpredictable

variables, such as weather extremes, pests, predators, long hours, and seven-day workweeks. At the end of the day, it’s barely profitable, so you really have to love the lifestyle.

What are some of your favorite ways to eat foods you produce at your farm? PA: It’s tough to narrow it down. My all-time favorite go-to

snacking cheese is Shakerag Blue. It is amazing on its own or paired with dried cherries or fresh strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic. The cheese I use most for everyday cooking is the Cumberland. It has a nice level of acidity, similar to cheddar. It works really well for so many uses.

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Industries & Trends

Main Street Meats Erik Niel, Owner Tell us a little about your restaurant and the local vendors you source from. EN: We are a small USDA-inspected butcher shop and

charcuterie that works with local farmers and ranchers to provide high-quality meats to our customers. We source our whole animals from Bear Creek Farms and supplement with other regional and national suppliers that meet our extremely high-quality standards. Why do you think the farm-to-table concept is important? EN: In reality, every restaurant is farm-to-table – the

important part of this is that we have knowledge of the farm and farmer, so we can better provide high-quality products to our guests. We know our suppliers personally and know they are good people who love their animals. This makes all the difference in the world.


What’s the best part of implementing this concept in your restaurant? What are the benefits of sourcing locally? EN: The best thing we do is represent our farmers and

suppliers to our city. It’s a privilege to be able to do that and feed people the kind of top-notch product that we strive for. Sourcing locally makes this possible throughout the year. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced when it comes to farm-to-table efforts? EN: Local does not mean cheaper. So, the challenge is

finding the right quality for the price. There is great value in what we provide because it is of such high quality, even though it costs more than the average products in a grocery store. What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu that feature local ingredients? EN: At Main Street Meats, it’s the burger. It represents all

that we work for in providing this kind of product to our city. Local beef is ground fresh every single day we open the doors!

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Industries & Trends

Pickett’s Trout Ranch Steve Pickett, Owner Tell us a little bit about your ranch and what you do. What got you into it? SP: Pickett’s Trout Ranch is a full-scale hatchery

and trout farm. We hatch and raise rainbow trout to stock and sell, and we allow fishing for individuals and groups. We also host various events, such as church outings, veterans groups, Boy and Girl Scouts, weddings, and parties. I got into trout farming simply to get away from the grind of the corporate world. My father and grandfather had a farm on this site, so I knew it could work. I started building infrastructure such as the fish runs, hatchery, and house in 2003, then opened to the public in 2004. Why do you think the farm-to-table concept is important? SP: Not only do local farmers provide the highest-

quality and freshest produce and meat available to restaurants, but consumers benefit from the nutritional aspect as well as benefit from their local dollars going right back into local business. What’s the best part about working with local restaurants specifically? SP: Over the years, we have been fortunate

enough to work with most of the finest eateries in the Chattanooga area. Some of those relationships go back nearly 20 years for us now. When you have that kind of business relationship, there are very few surprises. My customers know they can expect the highest level of quality and service. Conversely, for us, it’s helpful having customers understand when problems arise, as they almost always do with any type of farming. What are some of the biggest challenges you face when it comes to running your business? SP: Mother nature. Farming is risky business,

no matter what type. However, trout farming is especially susceptible to heat and drought during summer months. Every year is a roll of the dice. What are some of your favorite dishes featuring the trout that you raise? SP: Hard to say, but right now I would have to go

with the smoked trout fritters at St. John’s and the smoked trout avocado toast at Main Street Meats. 1 0 6 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM


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Industries & Trends

The FEED Co. Table & Tavern

part of our own community. Not only do these partnerships provide some security for farmers in knowing that they have already sold their crops, but it offers our guests superior inseason flavors.

Miguel Morales, Owner/Operator

What’s the best part of implementing this concept in your restaurant? What are the benefits of sourcing locally? MM: Supporting local businesses is important, especially

Tell us a little about your restaurant and the local vendors you source from. MM: Partnering with local vendors is something that’s

always been important to me when it comes to my restaurant concepts and menus. Yes, the farm-to-table concept is trendy at the moment, but at FEED, sourcing local ingredients is more than a marketing tactic – it’s also a responsibility as a local restaurateur. My chefs work with numerous local and regional farmers to bring our guests the freshest and best ingredients possible.

Why do you think the farm-to-table concept is important? MM: Farming is filled with uncertainty, and fresh produce

has a limited shelf life. I think it is the responsibility of all restaurant owners to work with farmers to grow a mutually beneficial relationship – especially with vendors who are a


in today’s climate. By purchasing local and valuing our local farmers, we are not only able to help our friends and neighbors, but it also allows us to offer our guests an unparalleled product. From the deep marbling on our Wagyu steaks to the vine-ripened juiciness of a tomato, the care these farmers put into their products shows in each bite.

What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu that feature local ingredients? MM: It’s impossible to choose just one. We are proud to offer

mouthwatering dishes, but wouldn’t be able to provide our guests with the experiences they have come to know and love without local farmers. From the lettuces in our salads to the mashed potatoes and our famous maple and bacon Brussels sprouts, local ingredients can be found in each of our dishes.

Industries & Trends

Big Sycamore Farm Initia Vandermerwe, Co-Owner Tell us a little bit about your farm and what you do. What got you into it? IV: About 10 years ago, my husband Bertus and I moved from

a very busy Atlanta lifestyle to rural Tennessee, hoping to live a life of self-sufficiency. We jumped in the deep end, buying raw land with no utilities. We lived off-grid for over three years, building a farm from the ground up. Our little farm exploded in production when we started a work-share program, trading volunteer time for produce. A local Cleveland chef bought produce from us, and when he moved to a Chattanooga restaurant, he kept ordering from us. And somehow, word-of-mouth led to another restaurant, and another. But essentially, we are still a hobby farm at heart – an out-of-control homestead with big dreams.

Why do you think the farm-to-table concept is important? IV: The public is very conditioned into thinking all vegetables,

berries, and herbs are available year-round. You walk into any

grocery store, and you will find green beans and basil in the middle of winter, or carrots and radishes mid-summer. Eating true to the season is something you will only find if you frequent local farmers markets, support local farms, and eat at farm-to-table restaurants. Educating customers has become a part of our journey. Explaining that sugar snap peas have an extremely short growth and harvest season has become a spring thing for us at the farmers market. What’s the best part about working with local restaurants specifically? IV: Farm-to-table chefs want fresh and unique produce: fairy

tale eggplant, purple potatoes, rainbow carrots. It’s produce that inspires them and stands out on their seasonal menus.

What are some of your favorite preparations of the things that you grow at your farm? IV: We eat lots of fresh veggies, do a quick sauté, or grill almost

anything, from spring onions and green tomatoes to zucchini and corn. We have discovered that we like okra baked like oven fries. Cut them lengthwise, season with olive oil, salt, and pepper – maybe some red pepper flakes if you like the heat – and bake in the oven until crisp. It turns an otherwise slimy veggie we did not like at all into something we will devour.


Industries & Trends

Chili Pepper Ranch Jim Osborn, Co-Owner Tell us a little bit about your ranch and what you do. What got you into it?

JO: Chili Pepper Ranch is a boutique Wagyu beef producer. The ranch is family-owned and -operated and located in Apison, Tennessee. It began in 2012 with 9.8 acres and has expanded to cover approximately 370 acres currently. Our focus is on humane and low-stress practices to encourage optimal well-being for our cattle. As part of caring for the beef product, our animals are harvested at a USDA facility. The beef is dry-aged for 21 days and then vacuum-sealed to preserve quality. We got into the Wagyu beef business initially by happenstance. When we moved out to the country, cutting the grass seemed a bit burdensome, so we purchased cattle to consume the grass. From there, the ranch has grown exponentially. Over the last two years, 86% of our customers have been repeat buyers, and we have seen a 57% increase in customers annually. Why do you think the farm-to-table concept is important?

JO: The farm-to-table concept really focuses on allowing the consumer to support the local economy and to choose the practices that are utilized to raise their food sources. It is important to choose a beef product that does not get steroids, other hormones, or antibiotics and is not raised in inhumane conditions. We invite our customers to come out to tour our facilities so that they can see the animals and appreciate the care that’s provided them. What are some of the biggest challenges you face when it comes to running your business?

JO: Challenges that we face really focus on growth and expansion. There is a 36-month time span from conception to table, and we have to strategize growth accordingly. What are some of your favorite preparations of the things that you raise at your ranch?

JO: Our family did not come from an agricultural background. Entering the cattle/beef business has allowed us to learn more about different cuts, and we are routinely trying new recipes for different cuts so that we can advise our customers. Currently, we are using a smoker quite a bit to try new recipes and seasonings. Even Wagyu burgers and meatloaf are amazing when smoked. 1 1 0 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

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Industries & Trends

Public House Chattanooga Nathan Lindley, Owner Tell us a little about your restaurant and the local vendors you source from. NL: At the Public House, we offer a strictly seasonal,

product-driven menu that emphasizes vegetable side dishes and simple cooking techniques. We traditionally work with a primary farmer. For the past few years, that has been Bert and Initia with Big Sycamore Farm.

Why do you think the farm-to-table concept is important? NL: We believe that paying attention to the foods that

are in season provides the best-tasting dishes and keeps our customers’ dollars in the local economy. Supporting the community like that is important to us.


What’s the best part of implementing this concept in your restaurant? What are the benefits of sourcing locally? NL: Knowing that we are serv-

ing dishes that feature produce at the peak of its season and flavor is very rewarding.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced when it comes to farm-to-table efforts? NL: Unfortunately, it’s not

Nathan Lindley

always possible to maintain local supply of a particular ingredient – that’s just the way that things work once you involve supply chain logistics and seasonality.

What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu that feature local ingredients? NL: Something that I really love is summer corn, so the suc-

cotash we serve in the summertime is a favorite. I also love the collard greens we get in the fall and winter seasons.




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Industries & Trends

St. John’s Restaurant Patrick Sawyer, Head Chef Tell us a little about your restaurant and the local vendors you source from. PS: At St. John’s Restaurant and St. John’s Meeting Place,

we provide regional Southern fare prepared with French techniques. We source from several local vendors. During some summers, we have used over 20 farmers. But this year, many local farmers were unsure how the economy would emerge from the pandemic, and they were much more cautious with their plantings.

Why do you think the farm-to-table concept is important? PS: The farm-to-table concept is very important to us

because it is a way to have working relationships with local farmers. We feel it is important to source locally and support the local economy. It also enables us to serve our local community the most nutrient-dense food product available. Our guests are typically eating food within a day or two from when it was picked.


What’s the best part of implementing this concept in your restaurant? What are the benefits of sourcing locally? PS: The best part of sourcing locally is giving the guests the

experience of products that grow and are produced in their area. The benefit of sourcing locally is knowing the products you are sourcing can be trusted. There is a name and a face to each product. We are trying to create a trusting relationship between chef and farmer, and in turn, we build a trusting relationship between the chef and the guest. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced when it comes to farm-to-table efforts? PS: One of the biggest challenges with farm-to-table ef-

forts is the weather in our area. We have been experiencing record highs recently, as well as a couple of unexpected freezes earlier this year. This can set back some crops for weeks. What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu that feature local ingredients? PS: One of my favorite dishes on the menu right now is

the heirloom tomato salad featuring Big Sycamore Farm’s heirloom tomatoes. This dish also features a Sequatchie Cove Coppinger cheese soufflé.

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Weather or Not When Business Varies by Season BY KATHY BRADSHAW

It’s very common for companies to experience fluctuations in business and revenue, busy times and slow times – and this can often be based on the seasons or weather. For instance, retail businesses can experience as much as a 15% increase in sales the month of December and then fall to 30% below average after the holidays. And certain vacation resorts may be so slow in the cooler months that they decide it’s not profitable to even stay open beyond their bustling summer season. According to the Chattanooga Tourism Co., some 3 million tourists come to the Scenic City every year, spending up to $1.16 billion annually. But tourists can be fair-weather friends – nearly 90% of visitors come to Chattanooga outside of the winter months. This means that, depending on their industry, many businesses are bound to experience a lull of varying degrees at certain times of the year. And for those companies that

want to stay open and operable year-round, keeping things going during the slower season can sometimes require some resourceful or creative business decisions. We talked to several local companies that experience a slow-down when summer vacation ends, visitors seek warmer climates, and less tourists come, and they told us how they get through the off-season.

Danielle Landrum Owner, Locals Only Gifts & Goods

Tim Andrews President, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM)

Hugh Morrow President & CEO, Ruby Falls

Susan Harris President & CEO, See Rock City, Inc.

Hope Maum Co-Founder & Co-Owner, Experience Chattanooga

Ryan Maum Co-Founder & Co-Owner, Experience Chattanooga


Photo Courtesy of Experience Chattanooga

Experience Chattanooga Experience Chattanooga brings you on scenic hikes in the Chattanooga area, providing breathtaking views such as this one.


Industries & Trends

The two biggest challenges that many companies face when it comes to seasonal business are staffing and cash flow. When the bulk of revenue comes in during a restricted timeframe, planning and resourcefulness are involved to spread income out enough so that it lasts through the slow season, including reducing spending to just the essentials. “We must save a portion of our profits to sustain us through the leaner times,” says Danielle Landrum, owner of the Northshore gift shop Locals Only Gifts & Goods. “We also use a portion of our summer-season profits to invest in inventory for the holiday season and a portion of our holidayseason profits to finance our business growth plans for the upcoming year. It takes some planning to make sure that we have what we need during the busier times and that we do not purchase more inventory than we need during the leaner times.” Tim Andrews, president of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM), agrees. He lists being careful not to spend unearned revenue, as well as having sufficient cash reserves to carry fixed costs through the slow season, as two of his company’s biggest difficulties. “There is a considerable disconnect on the revenue side between sales and when the revenue is earned. We sometimes sell tickets up to six months in advance but ‘earn’ the event revenue when it occurs,” he says. Many companies also cut back on staff during the off-season. They rely on a skeleton crew of primarily full-time employees and bulk up on seasonal help when business picks up. But for some employees, such fluctuations can mean reduced hours and pay while things are slower. And those employees may also need to be versatile and willing to take on varying roles to fulfill the sometimes-inconsistent needs of a seasonal business.


Locals Only Gifts & Goods

This Northshore gift shop features locally produced gifts, artwork, food, and clothing.

“Staffing is the most difficult process in our business. As an attraction, our peak seasons are when most folks vacation, and we vacation when most folks work,” says Hugh Morrow, President and CEO of Ruby Falls. “Because of this, we have a sizable cross-trained, part-time and seasonal workforce that can be flexible with their schedules. Crosstraining gives our staff the ability to work in multiple operational areas, depending on the season.”

Photo Courtesy of Locals Only Gifts & Goods

Industries & Trends

Ruby Falls

Take a glass-front elevator down 260 feet into an underground cave, where you can view the deepest public cave waterfall in the United States.

“It can be challenging to manage labor,” Landrum adds. “We must balance the needs of our employees who depend on a stable income with our reduced labor needs during the off-season.” “Keeping full-time, year-long employees busy in the slower times is a challenge,” Andrews agrees. To help bridge the off-season gap, some businesses add additional products or services during slower spells to bring in more customers when they might not otherwise come. Rock City Gardens features its Irish festival, called Shamrock City, in March, and their popular Christmas lights display, the Enchanted Garden of Lights, in November and December. Ruby Falls offers a haunted attraction known as Dread Hollow in October and afterhours Valentine’s “Romance at Ruby” events that, Morrow says, usually sell out weeks in advance. The railroad museum has taken on a similar tactic. “It used to be that TVRM closed immediately after Thanksgiving weekend and reopened in late March,” Andrews says. “Development of Christmas events and Valentine’s dinner trains have shortened the slow season. Now, during January and February, we are at least open on weekends and holidays.” Locals Only adjusts their business model to push their online sales when foot traffic to their store dwindles. “In our business model, we have a retail brick-and-mortar gift shop, an e-commerce website, and a gift box business. We leverage those different revenue streams to offset each other when


Photo Courtesy of Ruby Falls


Industries & Trends

Rock City Gardens

Lover’s Leap and the High Falls waterfall are just the beginning of the spectacular scenery along the 4,100-foot walking trail at Rock City Gardens. The Observation Point atop Lover’s Leap is 1,700 feet above sea level and allows views of seven states.

seasonal business slows down,” Landrum explains. “For instance, when the brick-and-mortar store enters a slower season, we leverage our gift box business by increasing marketing to business professionals who purchase and give business gifts.” Similarly, to keep things running even in the colder months, Hope and Ryan Maum, owners and guides of hiking tour company Experience Chattanooga, make special accommodations. “The biggest adjustment for us in the wintertime is making sure that we have warm clothes for our customers and ourselves,” the couple says. “If necessary, we’ll provide our customers with extra jackets, gloves, and hats for their time outdoors with us. Getting cold out there on the hiking trails is no fun for anyone!” Rock City has the unique advantage of being a part of the umbrella company, See Rock City, Inc., which “has multiple


hospitality businesses that include attractions, lodging, events, and restaurants,” President and CEO Susan Harris explains. This includes a season-resistant conference center, museum, and Starbucks franchise. Therefore, when one or more of seasonal businesses experience a seasonal slowdown, they can lean on the other partner companies to carry them through to the other side. Being a seasonal business does have some advantages, however. Many companies benefit from the relevant downtime of the off-season by preparing for when things pick up again. The Maums say that when things are slow, they scout out new hiking trails to add to their tour itineraries and “dream up new ideas for fun spring and summer tours!” Locals Only takes inventory of their stock, reviews sales trends in their store and among consumers in general, and plans out what new inventory they’ll order for the high season.

Photos Courtesy of Rock City Gardens, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Many of our area’s seasonal businesses focus on necessary upkeep and maintenance in the slower months of January and February. For Ruby Falls, this involves “building, fixing, or sprucing anything up, even for non-seasonal business operations,” Morrow says. And TVRM takes advantage of being open only on weekends to “repair the wear and tear from the main operating season,” Andrews explains. They also have a legally required annual inspection of their steam locomotives that can be conveniently taken care of during the off-season. As for Rock City, they use the less-hectic time period to work on internal projects, plan for the busy season, and increase the training of their staff. No matter what these businesses do to get them through the off-season, they have what it takes to persevere – whether that’s thanks to good planning, excellent business practices, or their favorable reputation with both locals and out-of-towners. “Customer reviews and word-of-mouth have gone a long way in giving people confidence that they can book a tour with us and have a great time, regardless of the season,” the Maums of Experience Chattanooga say. “We believe that our commitment to our mission and culture is the foundation that facilitates our team’s success and will carry our organization forward for the next 90+ years,” adds Harris of Rock City.


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Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM)

Pictured here are two of TVRM’s operating steam locomotives, both built in the early 20th century for the Southern Railway. The engines have been restored and maintained by the museum, and today, these historic locomotives pull passenger trains on museum routes. CITYSCOPEMAG.COM « 1 2 3

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Sales & Marketing “It’s very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.” - Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer, Apple


Building Client Trust “People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou The relationship between company and client is of the utmost importance when it comes to business. Successful brands thrive on meaningful correspondences with consumers. In fact, according to a report from Microsoft, 90% of Americans identify customer service as a deciding factor in whether or not to do business with a company. These local business owners and brand representatives share what they’ve learned about building successful relationships with clients and partners.

Shawanda Mason Co-Founder, The Chattery

For us at The Chattery, it’s all about consistent communication. I think we’ve done a great job at getting to know our audience and talking to them. We’ve established trust by not only sharing important updates about our business but by being transparent about the ins and outs of how we run it. To put it simply, we let our customers (who we refer to as students) see the good, bad, and ugly of starting and running a business. When starting any company, you’re constantly building your brand and teaching others about what you do and why you do it. You’re essentially always building trust.


Erik Zilen Owner/Head Baker, Niedlov’s Bakery & Café

Gable Eaton Founder, TeqTouch

Under-promise and overdeliver. Working from this paradigm, I am able to deliver consistently. Being consistent is the same as being dependable, and dependability is the basis for trust. Getting my product to my customers before they expect it builds that trust. In any industry, we are supplying our clients with something they need that is most likely just a part of a bigger piece. So, when I consistently deliver without fail and earlier than promised, the pain point that my product addresses is removed from my client’s tier of issues.

Like other relationships, I believe trust is built on honesty and vulnerability. For example, when our bakery makes a mistake or falls short, we want to own it and look honestly at our failures. This provides clarity and trust for our clients and also helps us see areas where we can improve. Humility is always tough to own. However, I believe it’s often where authentic trust happens. We take great care in striving for that perfect loaf of artisan bread and pastry. This is what inspires us, but the real joy comes in sharing our craft with our community. We never take their appreciation for granted.

Zane Smith VP of Sales, Trident Transport

Trust begins and ends with communication. The easiest thing in the world is delivering good news. Delivering bad news, although incredibly difficult, provides an opportunity to build trust with a client by relaying the information in the same manner and timeframe as one would deliver good news. Trust can take a long time to build and only moments to break. It’s important to realize that there is no trust without transparency. It’s not something that exists without being earned. Trust leads to loyalty. Once trust has been built and maintained, it creates loyal followers. While trust is the foundation, loyalty is the cornerstone of a lasting business relationship.


Sales & Marketing

Lisa Nausley Owner & CEO, Sandler Training

Building trust starts with disarming honesty, meaning you put the truth on the table, even when that may be in opposition to your own selfinterest. To build and maintain trust, we must learn how to make others feel comfortable and safe sharing openly. As a generally accepted rule, people relate most easily to those who act and think like themselves. There is no way to determine how to help someone without learning the truth about their situation. Without trust, the truth will not be shared. Ultimately, we must produce results. When clients benefit from a successful business partnership with you, they want to continue that relationship. Their success must be the gauge by which you measure your own success.

Chas Torrence Jim McKenzie Market President, FirstBank

At FirstBank, we strive to establish trust by showing genuine interest. Everyone’s situation is unique. Developing new relationships is a function of our team members being visible and active in our community and taking the time to really get to know people. When your aim is to be authentic and help other people get what they want, things usually work out well in developing new relationships. Warmth and caring still matter, even in our high-tech world. They may actually matter more than ever. Providing consultative advice is always our goal. We think all of this together creates raving fans.


Executive Vice President, EMJ Corporation

Our mission is to deliver an exceptional experience to our clients, partners, and colleagues. We work to establish trust by focusing on our clients’ construction experiences. We spend a great deal of time working to understand them and recognizing that each one is different. We know that with a deep understanding of what is most important to each client, our project teams will be able to work more efficiently and effectively. An exceptional client experience happens when our project teams deliver the activities that are important to our clients. This demonstrates to the client that their needs are important and that they are a priority to us. When this client-focused approach is applied, remarkable experiences unfold and long-term partnerships develop.

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Sales & Marketing

Shevonda Sherrow, MD Founder & Physician, Innovative Women’s Health Specialists

Relationships mean simply that: to relate to someone. I listen to my patients and their concerns. We approach treatment plans in phases so that they can be comfortable. The biggest problem is the overwhelming amount of information available to patients. The information is only good if you know how to apply it and if it applies to your circumstances. Having the time to educate my patients by giving tangible examples helps them ease fears. Trust has to be earned, even for the physician. If you show someone you are willing to meet them where they are, a trusting relationship will come.

Sean McDaniel President & GM, Chattanooga Red Wolves

The No. 1 thing is to under-promise and over-deliver. When we do that, it shows an amount of satisfaction from those who have spent money to come to watch our games. We create loyal fans by leveraging the relationships we have with our season ticket holders. As we design our apparel, we include them in those decisions. We stay in one-on-one contact with those who have spent money to watch the Red Wolves play. We don’t just listen to them, but we act on what they want as fans. At the end of the day, the fans are our customers, and when the customers give us feedback, that’s how we know where we should act.




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Your Brand


Did you know that the world has nearly 4.6 billion active internet users, and 90% of people with internet access use social media, making it a viable channel to access customers? But with more consumers using more devices, there is greater competition to reach them. So, how do you make your brand stand out from the crowd? While other forms of digital marketing are certainly important, local companies are finding their greatest successes by leveraging social media. Here, area marketing professionals share their past experiences and give a glimpse into their brand’s digital marketing strategy.



Ben Lowe

Cara McGowan



would like to say that we use every new and fancy tool when it comes to digital marketing, but we are still a relatively small company, so we stick to a handful of reliable methods and focus on executing them consistently well. Our social media content, website, paid search ads, and email marketing campaigns are all fairly simple, but they are curated with purpose instead of focusing on sheer volume. There are a lot of people who find rock climbing interesting but intimidating. Convincing those who are new to the sport to give it a try can be tricky. That’s why we focus much of our time and energy on showing people everything our gyms have to offer and the members who use it. Whether it’s kids climbing a dinosaur skeleton or a couple learning how to belay each other on top rope, most newcomers just need to be shown a starting point that works for them. So, when it comes to ROI, the best investment you can make is with the time you spend getting to know your customer and segmenting your audience so that you can serve them with relatable and meaningful digital content.


e rely on a data-driven approach, but with the limited size of the museum’s communications team and the need to quickly innovate, we’ve followed cues by studying industry colleagues and maintaining partnerships with datagathering organizations. Since so much of our work is visual, design consistency is also critical. Even when we go in a different direction visually, we aim for a distinctive style and level of polish. We also like to share content created by guests. For instance, we encourage selfies in and around the museum. When visitors get creative in the galleries, the results can be magical. We like to share the joy that a museum visit can bring. Beautiful images, video, and great storytelling can’t be beaten. The customizable and targeted nature of digital creates unique opportunities for connecting with specific audiences. We target our messaging and then refine based on the results. Engagement is one of our key digital metrics, whether it’s likes, shares, or click-throughs. Connecting with people of all backgrounds is at the heart of the Hunter’s work, and digital marketing helps us achieve that goal.


Sales & Marketing

Alex Tainsh

Kelley Fowler




y goal for our fans is for them to be able to look at our content and get a realistic sense of what Lookouts baseball is all about. We constantly have to balance the interests of both our local and national fan base. Our national audience is going to engage more with content specially focused on our players and performance on the field, while locally, Lookouts baseball is more about the experience of a fun night at AT&T Field. As often as possible, we try to create content that will engage with both of those groups. Ultimately, you need to keep your overall goals in mind and create content that will give you the best chance to reach those goals. If you aren’t reaching your goals, look at your analytics and try to see where the issue is. If you aren’t getting as many views as you want, think about how you can change up your content. See what does well and do more of that. If you are getting views on your content but it’s not translating to sales, then try to provide more calls to action. Always think about the process for the consumer, and make it as simple as possible for them to take the action you are hoping they will take.



e believe consistency, in terms of posting regularly and voice, is key to using social platforms successfully when it comes to digital marketing. Our goal is to reach current and potential clients where they are and provide them with valuable information, which means cross-posting content and increasing reach with advertising. As a company, we have bought into a set of brand guidelines that we all feel strongly about. The ideas we had about the image, values, and service level we wanted to bring to the market when we launched have only deepened with time. Having a deep sense of who we are as a company and the value we want to provide makes it easier to speak with a consistent voice. Banking can get really stale when you are posting every day, and we do not want our audience’s eyes to glaze over by repeatedly seeing content that does not engage them, so we have to leverage our understanding of our clients and their current questions and needs into content that is timely and informative. Our general marketing activities are intended to raise awareness. Digital, on the other hand, gives us a chance to target more specific types of customers in a more cost-effective way.

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Sales & Marketing

Carolina Molloy

Philippe LeMaitre




onsistent branding was crucial from day one. One of our first marketing projects was to develop our brand guide and voice – and we follow it faithfully! Our signage, brochures, rack cards, websites, and social media pages all focus on presenting images or videos of our products in use. We always want to focus on people enjoying our high-tech gear rather than simply focusing on the products themselves. Our company offers a wide array of products and experiences for individuals and groups, so we fall into several industry categories, such as outdoor adventures, attractions and entertainment, and sporting goods retailer. A huge upside is that we can appeal to a wide audience, but that also means that it is hard to focus our messages for such a wide audience. So, our challenge is to find ways to market our offerings to multiple demographics for each product and experience type while working within a limited budget. Therefore, we need to create and publish separate campaigns for each type of audience. Measuring ROI for any marketing campaign is always difficult, especially when a company has a multi-media approach, and we often rely on guest feedback as to how they discovered us, which helps to inform our future marketing decisions.



here are a wide array of tools available to digital marketers, and it can be overwhelming, so we focus our time and energy on tried-and-true resources that accurately track where traffic is coming from and how well our content is performing. We use a suite of free Google tools and a few paid tools to measure performance and take our strategy to the next level. We analyze digital performance before and after every game to learn more about where our digital investment packed the most punch and where we can improve. This commitment to learning about growth opportunities and being nimble helps us achieve tremendous results on a budget. First and foremost, we track everything. The more data we can gather on the digital path to conversion, the better. Second, we take time to learn about what the data means to our business, as well as our audience’s journey. Data can teach you something about your customer and your community that you may not have already known. We’ve recently ramped up our digital marketing efforts, so we’re still in the exploratory phase of finding out which channels and creative performs best, but the ultimate goal is maximizing our results and minimizing waste.



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Sales & Marketing



ach individual digital platform we utilize speaks to a different group of people. We want to meet people where they are, and a big part of that is making sure we’re delivering the right messages to their preferred platform. Protecting our brand is so important because people truly trust us. Their doctors trust us, our local heart and stroke survivors trust us, and our volunteers trust us. The most important thing when it comes to our messaging and voice is that we’re sharing science-based information that continues the trustworthy messaging we think is paramount. In the nonprofit industry, I think we get too hung up on the fact that digital seems “free.” We end up shouting into a void, and then we don’t have anything to show for it. In order to provide some sort of return, we’ve got to be willing to at least make a small investment and monitor what’s working and what’s not working. I’ve had some great communications interns, and their first task is always the same: Give me your honest feedback on all of our digital presences. If it isn’t resonating with them, then it isn’t resonating with their peers, and we can’t risk a generation of people who don’t understand the importance of heart and brain health.




ne of the first things I did when taking over the communications at Lil Mama’s was create a brand stylebook that contains an in-depth summary of our brand, hashtags, what the brand voice is, the primary colors we use, and our core values. One of the biggest challenges marketers in the food and beverage industry face is that they are operating in such a packed marketplace. Think about how hard it can be to decide what you want for dinner. Many restaurants have turned to social media to try to grow their business, and they can sometimes get lost in the noise. I try to cut through all that noise by keeping our social media instantly recognizable. If you don’t see our logo in a graphic or picture, you should still know it’s Lil Mama’s. We also try to post fun, creative, and engaging content, not just PSAs about the business. Social media shouldn’t just be about blasting company messages out and hoping someone sees it. It should be social, intentional, and personal. We try to resonate with our customers by being honest, getting all the information we have out there, and most importantly, listening to feedback.

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Innovation & Entrepreneurship “The heart and soul of a company is creativity and innovation.” – Robert Iger, CEO of Walt Disney


CH AM P I ON I N G A C AU S E Meet Eight Women at the Helm of Chattanooga Nonprofits BY ANNA HILL

Running a nonprofit organization always comes with a myriad of unique challenges; however, they’re an incredibly important part of our society. Not only do NPOs account for somewhere between 5% and 10% of the nation’s economy and about 10% of the country’s employment, but they also provide vital support to the communities around them, whether through healthcare, advocacy, education, or something else. Here, we’d like to introduce you to eight empowering women who lead nonprofits throughout Chattanooga, as well as the important work that they’re doing to make the city (and the world) a better place.



What is the mission of your organization? The CAC provides a comprehensive path to healing for children who have experienced child sexual abuse. We provide forensic interviews, advocacy, therapy, medical exams, case coordination, and education. What got you involved? I have been an advocate my entire career. My work has always been focused on social justice and giving a voice to those who may not be able to speak for themselves. To what would you attribute your organization’s success? The CAC has been in Chattanooga for 30 years. We have a staff full of experts working with children who have been sexually abused. The team is the reason for the success of the organization. Our organization also values taking care of yourself, because when you have to listen to emotion-laden stories throughout your day, processing that and having the space to take time off is vital to do this work successfully. What are the greatest challenges facing your nonprofit organization today? How are you addressing them? The challenge for a nonprofit that works with sexually abused children is having a conversation about the subject matter we address. It is difficult for people to wrap their heads around the fact that adults with power are hurting vulnerable, innocent children. The CAC provides education for adults on how to recognize and respond to child abuse. We also work with partners in different sectors to ensure environments have policies and procedures that address what to do if a child discloses. What do you foresee as the greatest changes that nonprofits will have to respond to in the coming years? In the last few years, there has been a move from individual program implementation to more systemic responses to solve problems. We are fortunate that this is the way the Children’s Advocacy Center model works. We provide information to our families that helps guide them through the process of working with other partners, such as law enforcement and the Department of Children Services. That’s a systemic approach rather than a programmatic approach to advocacy, so I think we are wellpositioned to move into the future. Photo by Emily Pérez Long


Innovation & Entrepreneurship


What is the mission of your organization? Who do you serve? The mission of Girls Inc. is to “inspire and equip all girls to be strong, smart, and bold leaders in their families, their communities, and society,” which translates to being healthy, educated, and independent as they navigate through the journey called life. The Girls Inc. experience is designed to serve girls aged 6-18 through intentional, hands-on, and impactful programming. What got you involved? I’m dedicated to the mission and work of Girls Inc. because the adults in my life worked tirelessly to ensure that I was exposed to lifechanging opportunities and experiences. Without such experiences, I may never have left my neighborhood or met new people outside of school. It takes a village, and I’m dedicated to Girls Inc. being there for any family who will have us be a part of their daughter’s journey. To what would you attribute your organization’s success? This year, Girls Inc. of Chattanooga is celebrating 60 years of service to over 28,000 girls and counting! Our formula for success is addressing the local needs of our girls and their families. When we enter into a partnership with Hamilton County Schools, the city of Chattanooga, and others, we strive to provide programming that will increase a girl’s knowledge, teach her a new skill set, and change her attitude about living and learning. We give girls a safe space to make mistakes and try new things. What are the greatest challenges facing your nonprofit organization today? Our greatest challenge today is transportation. This past spring, two of our vehicles were vandalized several times, and the expense to repair them both was too costly, so we decided to sell them both. We are working with our board and other community stakeholders to purchase a new van for summer transportation and add an additional afterschool pickup route for the fall. As a leader of a successful nonprofit organization, what skills do you think are most important for an individual in your role to guide an organization like yours? The three most important skills for a leader are effective communication, trust, and hard work. Everyone from the girls to the board must be engaged and committed for our girls to thrive.


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Innovation & Entrepreneurship


What is the mission of your organization? Who do you serve? Our mission is to empower Chattanooga’s Latino community through advocacy, education, and inclusion. We serve Latino individuals and families in the southeast region of Tennessee and northwest Georgia. What got you involved? What is your passion and why? I’ve always had a love for people and cultures. After college, I immersed myself in Latin American culture through travel, volunteer work, and Spanish immersion experiences, including a year stint in Mexico. I found myself on the receiving end of so much acceptance and generosity. I was always made to feel at home, and I want to return that to our local Latino community. Brené Brown says, “Belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are,” and I want that for every Latino person in Chattanooga. To what would you attribute your organization’s success? The foundation of our organization’s success is built upon relationships. We have always attracted incredible leaders to our team – committed to our mission and community. We have historically been supported by local philanthropic organizations and work to collaborate with our nonprofit sector. It’s important to me that we remain connected to each other across communities and continue to foster a dynamic of collective support. What are the greatest challenges facing your nonprofit organization today? We face the challenge of advocating for a historically marginalized community in Chattanooga. The Latino population has changed so much since La Paz’s inception; today, we continue to show up for our community in places where, historically, they have not been included. We combat stereotypes and advocate for justice and representation on behalf of a population that is not a monolith. Latinos in Chattanooga, especially now, are a diverse population with diverse needs and obstacles. Anything else that you can share with us about how you plan to lead your organization into the future? I am excited about the future of La Paz Chattanooga. We are about to move into the city’s first Latino community center, which will open doors for our city to learn more about its Latino population. You can’t love what you don’t know, and Chattanooga doesn’t know this community as well as it should. That is what La Paz is here for: to give our Latino community the tools they need to make themselves known and to build bridges that lead to meaningful and impactful relationships.


Photo by Emily Pérez Long

Innovation & Entrepreneurship


What is the mission of your organization? Who do you serve? The mission of the Northside Neighborhood House is to promote the independence of residents north of the river by providing a hand up through education and assistance. We serve neighbors of all ages through our stability work and CommUNITY Schools model, as well as through our three thrift stores. What got you involved? What is your passion and why? God led me to work at the NNH as a sophomore at UTC while studying to be a teacher. Throughout my time at the NNH, I’ve seen the incredible impact that our programs have in the lives of our neighbors. My passion is being in relationship with my neighbors and watching them achieve the personal goals they’ve set for themselves. All the people whose paths cross mine are my why. To what would you attribute your organization’s success? As we have grown and added new income streams and expanded our thrift store operations, the community has been consistent and grown with us. Our board of directors consistently sets a clear vision for our programs and agency growth. Our team works tirelessly to provide excellent programming and is not afraid to pivot when needed. What are the greatest challenges facing your nonprofit organization today? Retention of our team members is always a focus and priority for us. Relationships are the backbone of our work, so employee turnover can be difficult. Continuing to build a loyal donor base through thrift store donations, increasing monthly online giving, and annual fundraising will allow us to offer more competitive wages and annual increases for our dedicated staff, which will lead to greater retention. We also support and motivate our team members through retreats, lunches, and staff appreciation activities. Anything else that you can share with us about how you plan to lead your organization into the future? I really think that great leaders aren’t afraid to share their assumed “power” in decisionmaking and running the organization. I’m so blessed to work alongside an amazing leadership team and an incredibly strong board of directors. Having run our organization for 15 years, I’m always eager to learn from new board members or team members to see where our gaps might be and areas for growth, for both myself and the organization.

Photo by Rich Smith


Innovation & Entrepreneurship


What is the mission of your organization? Cempa is an Old English word meaning “champion.” Our mission is to champion healthy communities by providing affordable, compassionate, and high-quality care through advancing comprehensive support services and person-centered best practices. Who do you serve? At Cempa, we serve some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Every day we serve patients with barriers to care, ranging from those who are uninsured to those experiencing homelessness. Access to care is a key component of a thriving community, so we’re working hard to empower our friends and neighbors to make their health a priority. In your opinion, what are the biggest differences between running a nonprofit organization and a for-profit business? From my perspective, there are more similarities than differences. Since my first day at Cempa, I have approached everything – from budgets to HR practices – in much the same way I did in the for-profit space. The only real difference is the ROI. In a for-profit business, that ROI is tied to revenue and increasing profits for shareholders, whereas in our world, it’s measured by how well we can meet our clients’ needs by investing back into the mission. As a leader of a successful nonprofit organization, what skills do you think are most important for an individual in your role to guide an organization like yours? My personal motto is: “Be brief, be bright, and be seated.” (As in make your point concisely, be positive and knowledgeable, and then sit down and listen!) I also believe that some of the best leaders are the ones who really listen. My goal at Cempa has been to hire a team of capable people, set clear expectations, and then empower them to carry out our mission. What do you foresee as the greatest changes that nonprofits will have to respond to in the coming years? Ever-changing funding dynamics that impact the work we do. There are local factors, as well as national factors such as politics, that change our financial footing every year. The most successful nonprofits are the ones who have the foresight to anticipate these curveballs and have the ability to adjust to these changes as they emerge.


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Innovation & Entrepreneurship


What is the mission of your organization? Who do you serve? The mission of the Lookout Mountain Conservancy is to protect Lookout Mountain’s scenic, historic, and ecological resources through conservation, advocacy, recreation, and education for current and future generations. We serve all ages and all people who want to enjoy and be a part of the outdoors. What got you involved? What is your passion and why? I got involved because it is a way that I can best serve the community. My passion is using the land to connect people to something that is greater and life-changing. To what would you attribute your organization’s success? Being innovative, responsive, and relevant. Not being afraid to do things differently and have the necessary conversations about racial equity, inclusion, and diversity. In your opinion, what are the biggest differences between running a nonprofit organization and a for-profit business? Bottom lines. Nonprofits and for-profits need each other to balance out the equation. For-profits generate revenue to support the nonprofit work of the people. As a leader of a successful nonprofit organization, what skills do you think are most important for an individual in your role to guide an organization like yours? It’s vital to be a collaborator, convener, and innovator and to have a relentless work ethic. Anything else that you can share with us about how you plan to lead your organization into the future? An organization’s mission and vision are major drivers for the direction the organization takes. These two statements should grow with the organization and not restrict growth and relevance. I plan to lead this organization with a humble heart and a commitment to connect people to the land, while listening to what the community needs are and being a part of the solution. You see, several years ago, I read this sign that said, “We are all just walking each other home.” Those words resonated with me. I look at each day as a responsibility to be a part of someone’s journey through life. I embrace that responsibility.


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Innovation & Entrepreneurship


What is the mission of your organization? The mission of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga (ULGC) is to enable African Americans, other ethnic minorities, and disadvantaged persons to achieve economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights. At its core, ULGC is focused on addressing racial and economic inequities that affect our entire community to ensure that Chattanooga can be a place where all persons can thrive, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. What got you involved? What is your passion and why? During my early childhood, growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood and single-parent household allowed me to understand the challenges of a community of high-potential persons who experience barriers to accessing opportunity and success. Even as a child, it was always hard for me to see disparities and not do something about it, so I started fundraising with other kids in my neighborhood so that we could do fun things together. I didn’t really know this was considered fundraising at that time, but my goal was to remove barriers that restricted quality of life for others. From my experience, I learned that everyone has potential to be productive, but everyone does not have access to the same means and opportunities necessary to build a future. Therefore, the more integrated our neighborhoods and schools are, the more shared prosperity we will all have. In your opinion, what are the biggest differences between running a nonprofit organization and a for-profit business? The obvious difference in a nonprofit vs. for-profit is the government tax status, but I think there are also many similarities. Both nonprofit organizations and businesses should be focused on quality of services, high-performing teams, and overall growth as top priorities. Businesses need to make a profit, and nonprofits should want to serve their stakeholders in a way that maximizes their resources for reinvestment back into the mission. To do this successfully, you need a leader who has vision, a team that can effectively execute key goals, and investors who support your mission. What are the greatest challenges facing your nonprofit organization today? Why? How are you addressing them? One of the greatest challenges facing our organization today is addressing Chattanooga’s long-standing disparities and helping to build a more equitable and inclusive Chattanooga post-pandemic. COVID-19 had a disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities. We aim to address their needs through three newly established community centers: The Center for Education, Workforce & Family Empowerment; The Center for Equity and Inclusive Leadership; and The Center for Economic & African American Business Success. These centers are designed to meet the emerging needs of people of color and low-income persons, supporting the overall economic prosperity for the individuals we serve and the entire community. 1 5 2 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

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Innovation & Entrepreneurship


What is the mission of your organization? United Way of Greater Chattanooga’s mission is to unite people and resources in building a stronger, healthier community. We envision a community where all people achieve their full human potential through education, stability, and health and well-being. What got you involved? Twenty years ago, fresh out of college, I was working in a youth development program at a local middle school. I asked these resilient, tough girls who they had in their corner. After much silence and no answers, I vividly remember one of them looking at me and asking, “Miss Lesley, what if you’re the only one?” It was the stark moment of my personal why – my realization that no child or person should ever have just one mentor or guide to navigate the challenges of life. What are the greatest challenges facing your nonprofit organization today? The workplace campaign model of engagement is too transactional for modern times. We need year-round engagement for lasting community change. We need people to do more than give to United Way; we need them to engage, volunteer, advocate, and then be generous with our work. This kind of cultural and logistical shift in philanthropy will take time. As a leader of a successful nonprofit organization, what skills do you think are most important for an individual in your role to guide an organization like yours? Right off the bat, I would say that emotional intelligence and self-awareness are the most critical traits for someone in a leadership position. We need to be willing to constantly examine ourselves, learn from our shortcomings and mistakes, and then adjust our leadership styles accordingly. Ego can kill an organization, and it’s important that the work remains centered on the mission and not on the leader. What do you foresee as the greatest changes that nonprofits will have to respond to in the coming years? With limited resources and growing need, we should expect greater alignment and collaboration from both nonprofits and funders in the days to come. United Way sits in both roles, and in 2022, we will present a new but vetted and tested funding model to the whole community. As we all work together, I see a renewed desire to move the needle more quickly and sustainably.


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CREAT I ON A ND INNOVAT I ON 5 Tech Leaders on How They Foster Innovation in the Tech Sector BY LINDSEY JUNE

Technology is an ever-evolving industry where even the simplest ideas can transform the future. As Steve Jobs once said, “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” The secret is innovative thinking, which is fundamental to technological growth. But without clarity and direction, even the most brilliant ideas stagnate. These Chattanooga tech leaders avoided the rut and founded successful companies that provide innovative services to clients and consumers. Here, they share how their businesses continue to foster innovation in the tech sector.


Jamey Elrod Owner & Co-Founder, Text Request Text Request is a software company that helps businesses and organizations communicate more effectively with their customers. It provides the software, tools, and features that companies need so they can text with customers in an organized and professional manner as a team.

“We foster innovation in the tech sector in numerous ways, especially as more businesses are leaning into the power of text messaging and discovering the many benefits it can deliver, from revenue generation to customer service. But, keeping it simple and listening to our customers’ needs is my favorite way to foster innovation. Our customers tell us what they need to be successful, then we talk about their requests as a team and build them. My dad always told me there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth: so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

Max Farrell CEO & Co-Founder, WorkHound WorkHound is a real-time feedback platform for frontline workers that helps companies reduce turnover. Through text and mobileweb applications, it creates a process for workers to share anonymous feedback with their company to create multiple ways for them to act on that information and increase workplace morale.

“The survey has been around forever, but we found that companies do a one-time survey, and only some people would participate, and the company wouldn’t know what to do with the data, so they’d do nothing. Asking for feedback is good, but doing something is great, and then telling people what you did, communicating back, and closing that feedback loop – that’s the cherry on the sundae. Some may consider our innovation simple, but there’s a lot of time and energy that goes into a simplistic design. For us, what’s been rewarding is watching companies change their culture based on the feedback and seeing the operational numbers as a result. Companies have doubled their stock price, become a more diverse organization, and addressed some of their blind spots simply by having an avenue for their people to share what’s on their minds and a process to do something about it.”


Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Travis Truett CEO & Co-Founder, Ambition Ambition helps companies build, scale, and manage distributed sales teams through its coaching and gamification software. What started as “Fantasy Football for Sales” turned into a sales performance platform used by the Fortune 500 to drive employee behavior and outcomes regardless of where they are.

R. Platt Boyd CEO & Founder, Branch Technology Branch Technology is a construction tech company that digitally prefabricates composite walls using large-scale robots and 3D printing to bring new capabilities to an older industry. It offers a patented 3D-printing process called Cellular Fabrication, or C-Fab®, that allows material to solidify in open space and creates a matrix of polymer in virtually any shape.

“We are rethinking how buildings can be made through cross-disciplinary collaboration with software, robotics, hardware, material science, and building science to make code-compliant building enclosures in a completely new way. Our team comes up with ways to give new design and product capabilities to one of the oldest industries, while still meeting the very stringent lifesafety and performance requirements of modern buildings. We are creating products in normal commercial construction budgets that would have been two to three times more costly, all while generating less waste, creating higherquality products, using an inherently digital process, and creating buildings with better long-term energy performance that look amazing!”


“There are a lot of companies out there right now trying to replace humans with AI. We’re big believers that people are still a company’s greatest asset and that we should focus not on replacing them but empowering them. So when I think about innovation at Ambition, it’s not splitting the atom but instead humanizing software so that employees have a great experience while reaching their potential. It’s helping companies improve both culture and productivity lock-step, which we believe is a critical success factor for companies today.”

George Yu CEO & Founder, Variable Variable, Inc. is a sensor technology company best known for its Color Muse colorimeter, a small device that pairs via Bluetooth to smartphones. It’s used in conjunction with the Color Muse app, where users can scan colored surfaces like walls and match them to the closest color from a library of top paint brands on the market.

“At Variable, we are problem-solvers at heart. That ethos goes into our hiring process. We want our team to think outside the box and be willing to speak up and find unique solutions to problems they face. The problem-solving culture goes all the way to the top.”

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Strategy & Leadership “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric



To younger professionals, the early stages of a career can often feel quite daunting. It can be hard to know what direction to take, which people to network with, and what skills to invest in. However, ask any successful person what they credit for their accomplishments, and more often than not, they’ll tell you about the wonderful mentors who have guided them forward and always had their back. Read on to hear from local movers and shakers – as well as those who’ve mentored them – about how precious and invaluable the guidance of a seasoned individual can be when it comes to a career.

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Strategy & Leadership

“Reid was assigned to me through our Scholar Program. Having him as a mentor has been incredibly beneficial to me as a professional. He has helped me immensely in finding the career path I wish to pursue, as well as assisting me in making many connections and expanding my own knowledge and skills. Having a mentor has also been invaluable when it comes to career growth – it’s great having someone to point you in the right direction for success. I love always having someone to go to with questions. Even if he doesn’t have the answer right away, he’s always been willing to find it.” - Colt Bailey

Mentee: Colt Bailey (Right) Broker Administration Representative, Unum

Mentor: Reid Northcutt (Left) Senior Accounting & Finance Program Associate, Unum


“I’ve had a number of mentors in my career who helped steer and guide me my first years in the workforce, whether it’s dealing with challenging workplace dynamics, career development and growth opportunities, or considering a career path I hadn’t thought about. I wanted to be able to do that for someone else. As a CPA, I’ve had to think strategically about my career and how to transition from college to the working world. I’ve also changed jobs and had different roles within Unum, so I try to leverage my experiences and connections to help Colt meet his goals.” - Reid Northcutt

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Strategy & Leadership

Mentee: Torrey M. Feldman (Left) Associate, Baker Donelson

Mentor: Raven Austin (Right) Assistant District Attorney, Hamilton County District Attorney General’s Office

“Immediately upon meeting Raven, I knew that she had a wealth of knowledge and experience that I wanted to know more about. As fellow minority women practicing law in Chattanooga – Raven being African American and myself being Afro-Latina – I knew that she likely had already navigated some situations that I would like guidance on. I have so enjoyed having Raven as a mentor at this very early stage in my career. She encouraged me through bar prep, she’s helped get me plugged into the organizations that she’s a part of, and she’s become a great friend. But most special of all, Raven was among the few who were present at my swearing in, and she was one of the witnesses on my admissions affidavit. Having her as a mentor while I navigate this first year of practice has been invaluable. I am so thankful for her leadership, mentorship, and friendship.” - Torrey M. Feldman “Law school doesn’t necessarily teach you how to be a lawyer, but having good mentors definitely will. When I look back over every big accomplishment in my life, my mentor was always there. Knowing there was someone in my corner who wasn’t family, who had no obligation to help me but gladly chose to walk with me through all the ups and downs, made each accomplishment even sweeter. I don’t consider myself Torrey’s mentor, but her friend. If cheering her on, supporting her rise as a young lawyer, and discussing what I’ve learned thus far as a lawyer makes me a mentor, it’s a title I’ll gladly take.” - Raven Austin


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Strategy & Leadership

Mentee: Stephanie Pack (Right) Co-Owner, Monica’s Bridal

Mentor: Dolores Murphy (Left) Previous Owner, Monica’s Bridal

“Dolores Murphy is half of the husbandwife duo who hired me at Monica’s Bridal over 20 years ago. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and driving forces in my career. I can’t take much credit for my work ethic, because I learned from her. Every day for almost 15 years, I watched her show up, set an example for her team, and put in any amount of work necessary for the store to run smoothly. In addition, she gracefully gives her all to her family, countless circles of friends, volunteer groups, and more. Dolores has always inspired me to give 100% when it counts and be willing to face every obstacle head-on. She is so amazing with people. Watching her in her element with the public was a lesson I didn’t even realize I was learning at the time, and it was so invaluable.” - Stephanie Pack “Stephanie walked into Monica’s at the age of 19. I came to quickly understand Steph’s ability to sell gowns and befriend her brides. That is not teachable. A lot of the job is understanding your product and your relationship with all your manufacturers, and this was Steph at her best. Now, behind-thescenes involves the crucial job of ordering, sometimes with changes, and always keeping your bride updated. This takes organizational skills. Steph mastered all of that, which led to her becoming our store manager, and today, she is the co-owner of Monica’s. You see, over the course of all those years, my mentee became a part of my family. I am so very proud of her.” - Dolores Murphy Photo by Rich Smith

Strategy & Leadership

Mentee: Seth Shaver (Right) Executive Vice President, Steam Logistics

Mentor: Carter Garrett (Left) CCO, Trident Transport “Having a mentor wasn’t really ever something that was planned for me or even on my radar as being critical to my success. Carter and I came together out of necessity. We didn’t know we needed each other until we needed each other. He was the wise owl who’d closed million-dollar deals, and I was the quiet caller who was eager to learn and make a name for myself. We realized within the first few weeks that the only way we’d get to where we wanted to be was by being honest with each other – brutally honest. We’ve worked for different companies for the last five years, but we’ve maintained an open line of communication and lean on each other often for perspective. I wouldn’t be the person I am now or recognize the opportunities I’ve had without Carter.” - Seth Shaver “I did not set out to mentor Seth but needed his skill set and driven, determined mind to benefit our company. In doing so, I formed a binding, lasting relationship that helped both of us flourish. We took on the challenges of the freight world with grit and determination because we wanted to succeed. Together, we wanted to change our lives and those of our family members. We spent countless hours during normal workdays as well as many nights and weekends building our books of business for the mutual benefit of the company and ourselves. Exhibiting a relentless work ethic, Seth was an essential member of my team. There is no finer example of a true, loyal friend than Seth Shaver. I’ve come to trust him personally as well as professionally. Our trust and mutual respect were built on our foundation of hard work, and I’ve formed a lasting bond because I respect the man Seth is.” - Carter Garrett


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Strategy & Leadership

Mentee: DeJuan S. Jordan (Left) Director of Business Support, LAUNCH Chattanooga, & Owner of DSJ Coaching and Consulting

Mentor: Cathie Keegan (Right) Former Account Manager, The Comdyn Group

“Cathie and I had an organic connection, and our mentoring relationship developed into a friendship quite naturally, which we have been intentional about maintaining through the years. Cathie nominated me to serve as a board member on the Chamber of Commerce East Ridge Council and the Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Board. After a year or so of us serving together on these boards, Cathie resigned. It wasn’t until after Cathie stepped down that I realized that she had been positioning and preparing me to step up the whole time. Her confidence in my abilities, her words of encouragement professionally, personally, and spiritually, and her pushing me to step out of my comfort zone have played a big part in the career path that I have chosen. Cathie and I have a genuine interest in the well-being of each other, in business as well as outside of it.” - DeJuan S. Jordan “While serving on a Chamber Council board, I had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Ternae Jordan Sr. At that time, he was opening Mt. Canaan Baptist Church and bringing encouraging change to the community where my husband and I also live. Pastor Jordan’s voice and influence were echoed by his daughter DeJuan in her passion and tireless efforts to change young people’s views of themselves and their importance of being a vital part of their community. DeJuan’s generous heart, passion to help others, and endless energy are a few reasons I knew she needed to be on the Chamber boards where she could continue growing her efforts to make a difference in our city. I have been blessed to have DeJuan and her family as neighbors and dear friends. She is a young woman whom I love and admire and with whom I share a desire to encourage others to do what God asks of each of us: to love one another.” - Cathie Keegan


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Strategy & Leadership

Mentee: Rachel Nall (Left) Clinical Assistant Professor, UTC

Mentor: Dr. Linda Hill (Right) Professor and Program Coordinator of the Nurse Anesthesia Program, UTC

“I am very fortunate to have met Dr. Hill five years ago as a student in the UTC Nurse Anesthesia program. Dr. Hill has mentored me as a nurse and an educator. I am honored to work with her now in educating future Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. Through her mentorship, I have learned not only the knowledge and skills it takes to be a CRNA, but also how to teach others. She inspires me in her dedication to students and the patients they serve, as well as her leadership in nursing research and advocacy for our profession.” - Rachel Nall “Many different people along my professional pathways in nurse anesthesia and academia believed in my potential for success. Each was a strong mentor at varying stages of my life and career in every sense of the word. It was not an assignment for them. Their challenges, guidance, encouragement, and support were simply a natural part of their fiber. The impacts on my life are immeasurable. I strive to emulate their mentoring qualities with hopes that I, too, will inspire outstanding achievements in my students’ and colleagues’ lives.” - Dr. Linda Hill


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Strategy & Leadership

Mentee: Ken Jones (Right) Director of Procurement and Vendor Relations, EPB

Mentor: Allen Clare (Left) Vice President of River and Resources Stewardship, TVA

“Mentorship is an important role for both personal and professional development. I have realized the critical nature of having someone guide you through the journey of life. When I met Allen, I asked him if I could pick his brain. He accepted with no hesitation, despite his busy and demanding schedule. We talk about leadership concepts, building relations, industry trends, strategic planning, and a host of other topics. One of the things I like best about Allen is the fact that he shoots at me straight. He does not tell me what I want to hear or what he thinks I want to hear. If I state something that does not align, he will let me know. He uses his experiences to teach me valuable lessons. I can honestly say that I have used his guidance in my career, and it is paying dividends. I appreciate his commitment to mentoring me, and I enjoy being a mentor to others.” - Ken Jones “Being able to contribute to the development of promising future leaders such as Ken is a privilege. I believe in ‘paying it forward’ and am blessed to be in a position to be able to help others. Having been in a leadership position for a number of years, I see it as both a responsibility and an opportunity to provide encouragement and support, to give advice, and to share my personal experience. I would also say that learning and sharing go both ways, as I am both encouraged and inspired by my interactions with Ken and other working professionals in the Chattanooga area. It has truly been a pleasure to watch Ken grow professionally over the past few years. I am happy on his behalf for the opportunities that lie ahead.” - Allen Clare


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Staying at the Top of Your Game Area Executives on How They Remain Prepared for Daily Responsibilities From weekday workouts to morning meditation and prayer, almost everyone who operates at a high caliber will tell you that there is a specific part of their routine that sets their day - and their week - up for success. In fact, according to, the average leader wakes up at 6:15 a.m., and business executives fit an average of 45 minutes of exercise into their day. Roughly 70% of Fortune 500 leaders make sure they eat breakfast, and the same group spends an average of 2.5 hours in meetings every day. So, when you’re at the helm of a company with a seemingly endless number of tasks and initiatives coming your way, how do you make sure you’re able to focus and perform at a high level? These area business leaders share their personal secrets to success.

Scott Parrish Chairman, Miller & Martin PLLC

As soon as I arrive at the office and before my day starts with my fellow partners and clients, I try to focus for 5 to 10 minutes on one or two ways I can market my firm or my practice. It could be as simple as catching up with someone with whom I have worked before or contemplating a branding opportunity for my firm. If I don’t do this, the day-today responsibilities of managing the firm and tending to the needs of clients and employees will often prevent me from focusing on such matters.


Mark Cunningham President & Managing Shareholder, Chambliss Law

I like to get out and climb. Chattanooga is one of the best locations for sandstone bouldering in America, and many of the best spots are within an easy drive. Even so, they are a bit off the grid. These remote locations provide phenomenal areas to unplug and recharge, which is needed after a long week. I’ll often bring a beatenup journal along that I’ve had for years and capture my thoughts.

Ken Shaw, EdD President, Southern Adventist University

I enjoy my spiritual devotions each morning and take time to reflect on a few Bible verses, which provides a strong foundation for my day. As president of Southern Adventist University, staying on top of my game requires daily learning about the university’s operations and connecting with the employees who carry out our mission. My work in higher education for more than 40 years has taught me to keep a strategic eye on where we need to be, and that helps influence my day-to-day decisions.

Beverly Edge COO & General Counsel, HHM

Working out several times a week keeps me grounded and provides tremendous benefit both personally and professionally. While I enjoy a combination of running and strength training, I approach my workouts as an intentional lifestyle choice with a focus on my health rather than viewing exercise as a burden. Starting my day with a workout makes me generally feel better, have more clarity, and helps relieve stress throughout my day. I am also a proponent of an old-fashioned to-do list. Having clear goals for my day allows me to both prioritize and strategize my professional and personal objectives.

Tom Ozburn President & CEO, Parkridge Health System

My wife’s alarm goes off at 2:30 a.m. so she can anchor the morning show at WRCBtv. Getting more sleep past that is pretty difficult, so I typically either get on the Peloton or walk to the gym for a workout. I usually finish my workout by 6 a.m., which allows me to get to work by about 6:45 a.m. It is quiet for a while and allows me time to catch up and have moments of thought or prayer. Exercise, for me, is critical to keeping my mind and body in balance. I can always tell when I have missed working out for several consecutive days.

Photo by Emily Pérez Long


Strategy & Leadership

Harshad Shah CEO, Hamilton Plastics Inc.

I start my day with prayer in my temple and have Indian chai with my wife. I glance at all of my texts and emails but only touch urgent requests. I will check the post office box on my way into the office, and when I arrive around 10:30, I’ll grab a cup of coffee and revisit texts and emails. After that, I’ll walk through our 300,000-square-foot plant, making a point to stop and talk with employees. I always try to make sure I have time to develop and market new products and serve on local boards to better the world as much as I can. I talk with my kids every day, and most of the time, I also talk with all of my seven grandkids. I do what I can to keep myself stress-free, which is key to my success for my health and the health of my business.

Ron Jones Chattanooga City President, SouthEast Bank

I am at my best, both personally and professionally, when I’m investing in the community. Whether it’s engaging with local youth through our financial scholars program or helping clients achieve their financial goals, banking gives me a chance to connect with my Chattanooga neighbors. As bankers, it’s important to remember that the work we do is about so much more than finances – it’s about bettering the community where we live and work. Seeing the positive impact that we make on our customers each day encourages me to do more, and it keeps me at the top of my game.

John Sorrow Regional Agency Executive, McGriff, a subsidiary of Truist Financial Holdings

It took the first 20 years of my career before I understood the value of being healthy. In 2008, I finally realized I had slowly become overweight. I designed a dedicated process of calorie-counting and -burning through nutrition and exercise. It took me two years to lose my goal of 60 pounds. Most importantly, I have spent the last 12 years counting each calorie consumed or burned – mostly through walking during conference calls (AirPods are the bomb!) and competitive tennis. The best time to make crucial decisions is right after or even during a good workout. I use those times so I can think more clearly and ask better questions to get to the right place. 1 7 8 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

Jim Vaughn Market President, Truist

Every day, I place my Truist lapel pin to my jacket. This action reminds me to serve our purpose, which is to inspire and build better lives and communities. It reinforces what I want to accomplish for the day. It reminds me to listen and understand the needs within the community and to be creative in providing solutions. These actions allow me to support individuals and organizations.

Craig Fuller CEO, FreightWaves

My routine is pretty simple. I consume a lot of information on Twitter, which I consider the voice of record of our time. I look for relevant news and stories first thing in the morning. A lot of great ideas are sparked by engaging with other thought leaders and random people on Twitter. After that, I turn on CNBC or Bloomberg to see what is happening in the world of supply chain, transportation, and logistics.

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Follow the Leader Top Executives on How They Define Success and the Qualities That Make a Great Leader The Roman poet Virgil once said, “Fortune sides with him who dares.” Indeed, an appetite for innovation is a vital aspect of success, but it’s not the total picture. Success means different things to different people and is dependent on experience and circumstance. Here, Chattanooga’s top business leaders share how they define true success and what exemplary leadership looks like to them.


Q: Looking back over your career, how do you define success?

Mitch Patel, President & CEO, Vision Hospitality Group

“Success” is not an easy thing to define. Similar to how people grow and mature, the definition of success can change as well. I have defined success in different ways over my career. Ultimately, success is about accomplishments: What have I been able to get done, what has the impact been from those actions, who have I affected and how? Twenty years ago, my focus may have been on building a business, but now it is more about helping others, helping this community, and how I can leverage my past accomplishments to help others achieve their own success.

Felicia Jackson, Inventor & CEO, CPR Wrap

The only way I believe it's possible to achieve success is in your own specific way. In various stages of your life cycle, your definition of success can and will change. Sometimes it’s about executing your goals of building a business to pass down to your children for generational wealth. Or maybe it's about attaining the financial freedom of building a multi-million-dollar business. At the very beginning of my career, I always aligned financial gain with success because my main purpose was taking care of my family. But today, success for me means making a difference in this world as a social-impact company and being able to have a balanced family and work life while keeping my sanity. Success is living your life on your own terms and making life decisions as you see fit.

Scott Rowe, CEO, Encompass Health

Success for me is defined by the positive impact our organization has on so many lives. It starts with building a cohesive team that stays together and works together to always put our patients first. While we objectively measure our success through the percentage of patients who return home and the progress they make in regaining their independence, I am reminded that those numbers represent individual lives that we have touched. Developing and being a part of a team that treasures this more than anything is success to me.

James McKissic, President, ArtsBuild

I define success as being in a position to mentor and uplift others. That also includes being open and sharing my social and professional networks. I’ve had some great mentors in my life, so it’s important for me to give back by mentoring and opening doors for the next generation of leaders in our community. I always work to create a culture grounded in collaboration and consensus. Each day, I learn so much from the people I work with. An open, collaborative environment helps create success.


Strategy & Leadership

Q: What type of company culture fosters success?

Tracy Wood, President & CEO, Hospice of Chattanooga

A big part of successful company culture is regular, clear, and concise communication. Creating a collaborative environment allows input from everyone in the company. At Alleo Health Services, my door is always open. We also believe that celebration is an important part of a company’s day-to-day. Our teams always strive to ensure each patient and their families experience the very best care. We love to recognize our associates. There is always a reason to celebrate our successes, whether they are big or small.

Bill Crawford, President & CEO, Lawson Electric

I think for people to be successful, they must feel secure. We pay a fair wage, but we also incentivize well. This motivates most and fosters success for the individual and company. However, money is not always the best motivator. We have to be sensitive to what drives people. If it’s words of affirmation, we need to affirm them. If it’s recognition, then we need to try to recognize them publicly. In short, the company culture needs to be dynamic enough to foster success among the individuals of the company but rigid enough for the company to maintain its identity.

Rick McKenney, President & CEO, Unum

Long-term success is rooted in company culture. We’ve learned inclusive cultures that are receptive to novel ideas and new ways of thinking are more likely to succeed. At Unum, we work to foster an inclusive culture by valuing the diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and ideas of our people. This means all our employees have the tools to grow and reach their full potential, and no one feels limited or excluded from the opportunity to contribute and learn. We’re finding new and innovative ways to reach customers and make more meaningful relationships by taking this approach.

Todd Fletcher, President, Life Care Centers of America

I love the topic of culture and what it means for a company. We spend so much of our time working that I believe it is critical for companies to create positive, winning cultures. I am confident that when a company truly cares for and about their employees, has a trusted and proven product, and works hard to stay current and innovative, success will follow.


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Strategy & Leadership

Q: What is the smallest change an executive can make that can have the largest positive impact?

Julie Taylor, Chief Development Officer & President, Erlanger Health System

Agility. If this year has taught us anything, it should be about leaning into ambiguity and not being afraid to pivot, shoot, miss, and do it over and over again until we get it right. So much of what we have accomplished in the last year was because we were forced to change course and take risks. And because we were moving so quickly amidst an incredible amount of uncertainty, we learned to give ourselves permission to be okay with accepting 90% instead of holding out for 100%, 100% of the time. If we really want to innovate and grow, we need to practice being nimble, so that when those opportunities come along, we will be ready to take that shot.

Bobby Joe Adamson, CEO & Chief Manager, Adamson Developers Honesty in leadership makes a big impact. Company leaders who are willing to tell staff the truth and who nip everything in the bud that doesn’t work make the most positive impact on their team. Another small change includes being open-minded. Praising your staff when they have done a good job and rewarding them for their excellence can also have a big impact.

Donnie Hutcherson, Managing Partner, HHM

We believe in collaboration and free-flowing communication at HHM. When you walk the halls of the office, there are no closed doors. No one is asking, “May I say who is calling?” There is synergetic activity where we have removed barriers that limit co-worker interaction. Simple changes to create a more open workspace with access to all peers can have an immediate improvement on productivity, morale, training, and mentoring.


Strategy & Leadership

Q: What would you like to have known early on in your professional life?

Chanda Chambers, Owner & President, Chambers Welding & Fabrication, Corp.

I wish I had known to challenge myself to always pursue the goals I had that I knew would help strengthen me in the long run. Challenges not only help you grow in skill and knowledge, but they also help you develop a stronger belief in your own capacity. Where there’s security, there’s nothing forcing you to rise to the occasion of maximizing your potential.

Beverly Coulter, Board Chairman, Friends of the Zoo

One of the things I wish I had known early in my professional career was to not take myself so seriously. I have learned that it’s okay to disagree with others when things aren’t going well in the workplace. At the end of the day, it’s just a job. Being judgmental of someone who doesn’t agree with you never pays off.

Rusty Gray, Managing Shareholder, Baker Donelson Professional careers involve so many moving parts, especially in the early days. So much of success as a professional, however, simply entails focusing on doing a good job of taking care of people and solving their problems. That goes for internal co-workers and external clients. It would have helped me early in my career to simplify things by always returning to the key goals of providing good service and solving problems. Get your co-workers and clients to the finish line with their problems and provide caring service in the process.

Derek Bullard, President & CEO, Siskin Children’s Institute Early in my career, I obsessed over details and managing every project, contract, and opportunity at the micro level. When my organization was small and we had early wins, I attributed this success to my hard work and obsession over every detail. However, as my company became larger, this approach hindered our growth and eventually caused me to lose staff. After lamenting the loss of a key employee early in my career to a competitor, a mentor gave me sound advice that I use to this day: “Focus on the ongoing development and skills of your employees, delegate effectively, and allow your staff the latitude to take calculated risks.” This approach empowers employees by showing you trust them and helps create resiliency in the organization.


Charles Lathram, CEO, Galen Medical Group Don’t expect everyone to feel the same way you do, and don’t get disappointed when you realize they don’t feel the same way you do. Meet your employees and co-workers where they are, not where you want them to be. I have a philosophy that I have called the 10-80-10 Principle. It notes that 10% of your employees are happy regardless of the circumstances, and 10% of your employees are generally not going to be happy regardless of your attempts. The 80% in the middle are the ones you have an opportunity to positively impact, and they should be your focus.


Strategy & Leadership

Q: What qualities make for a great leader? Rebecca Ashford, President, Chattanooga State Community College

Great leaders have a high degree of integrity. Without integrity, they cannot earn the trust of those in their span of care or in the communities they serve. Great leaders are optimistic about the future and convey that optimism throughout their organizations. I also believe that great leaders show authentic vulnerability. Being authentically vulnerable helps build trust, as people know that you are a real person who has emotions, hopes, and fears.

Amna Shah, Founder, i-Card

Being down-to-earth and approachable helps someone to be a great leader. You should also act as customer service for your own team as well as externally for your customers. That is probably why we were given two ears and one set of lips, as I like to say. A lot of problems are solved by listening and deducing the main cause of the issue rather than not listening and jumping to conclusions prematurely.

Terry Hart, President & CEO, Chattanooga Airport

My response to this is fairly simple. I have always practiced the thought that no one in an organization is better than anyone else. Each person has a certain task to do. Treat individuals the way you would like to be treated. Always remember where you started. I have always found that the skill of listening is the best gift given to us. You can learn so much more by speaking less often and taking the time to listen to others.

Steven Angle, Chancellor, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

The ability to articulate a common goal that connects the organization’s activities to doing good for others. It cannot just be a job or teaching one more course. It is about changing the world. UTC educates students who will be prepared to change the world – the future of our society is our students, and they are looking to us to help prepare them to take on the challenges facing our world. I work in higher education so I can be part of the team that touches the future every day.

Patti Steele, President & Eric Fuller, President & CEO, U.S. Xpress

A great leader has a clear point of view and the ability to articulate complicated concepts. This requires listening to and engaging with your teams, then finding ways to implement ideas. It also means creating a workplace culture that’s open and collaborative and where folks want to bring their full selves each day. Align yourself with people of differing perspectives, both personally and professionally.


CEO, First Volunteer Bank

Many qualities come together to create great leadership, the foremost being earning trust, owning one’s mistakes, and being honest, even when it hurts. One must develop the ability to make decisions quickly while remaining focused on the end result. Great leaders practice kindness in both communication and interaction. Lastly, great leaders are aggressively humble – remembering their roots. Each of these qualities combine to solidify trust. Trustworthiness unlocks the door to integrity and is always the most important quality for any leader, at any level.





Strategy & Leadership

Q: What does servant leadership mean to you?

Miller Welborn, Chairman of the Board, SmartBank

Servant leadership is exhibited when a person becomes willing to put themselves last in line for the good of the whole and doesn’t care about being recognized for accomplishing the task at hand. It is also demonstrated by caring more about others and less about the outcome. That’s not to say that outcome isn’t important, because in business, it is! But the priority is the people. Personally, I view servant leadership through the lens of my Christian faith, which informs not only my worldview but also my business and personal life. So, for me, seeking to emulate the character of Christ is the premise from which I endeavor to be a servant leader.

Vincent Phipps, Founder & Owner, Communication VIP

Stay kind and professional. Since we now have four to five generations all in the same workspace, our views on ethics, spirituality, success, family, and loyalty are progressively changing. As a servant leader, we must all be willing to respect our customers, team members, and potential clients to give our best service, with an attitude of professional positivity. One of the best ways to serve others is to learn from others.

Elaine Swafford, CEO, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy/ Montessori Elementary at Highland Park

Servant leaders leave behind personal glory and are willing to care for people more than for the position they hold. The true servant leader is also keenly aware of the needs and strengths of others and listens to their desires. They remove obstacles, provide resources, and step in the trenches to help motivate the team. For me personally, I try to live life purposefully and serve those who are underserved and marginalized and give a voice to those who need my leadership to assist. At the end of the day, leaving a legacy through purpose and love of people is the epitome of servant leadership.

Jay Dale, Market President, First Horizon Bank

Servant leadership always begins with being a good listener and taking time to hear people before speaking. It means being aware of situations and people. It means practicing accountability in our daily lives, whether it’s in business or at home. Finally, servant leadership means being able to build and communicate a vision for a team. As our workforce changes generationally, it’s especially important to understand the needs of employees and to meet them in ways that encourage their growth, which in turn encourages commitment to our common goals. There’s a business saying that you can learn a lot about someone from how they treat a server at a restaurant. There’s a lot of truth to that. There’s no job too small when it comes to making sure our team succeeds and associates know they are valued.


Management “Our chief want in life is someone who shall make us do what we can. This is the service of a friend. With him, we are easily great.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson



Behind every successful company is a suite of dedicated and talented employees. To inspire team members to perform at a high level, companies first and foremost need to respect their employees and show them that they recognize their hard work. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, employees who feel their superiors treat them with respect are 63% more satisfied with their jobs, and e-commerce company Zoro reports that 72% of professionals say that having more work benefits would increase their job satisfaction. Even if you understand the importance of showing your employees they’re valued, that doesn’t mean executing that is a walk in the park. Read on for what some local companies are doing to motivate – and ultimately retain – their workforce.

SUE COLLINS Executive Vice President/Chief People & Communications Officer, Tennessee Valley Authority

We know that when our employees feel appreciated, they are significantly more likely to be motivated to do their very best, and when we create an environment where employees feel valued, we see improved productivity, more innovation, and higher levels of engagement. Feeling valued starts with being included, and we emphasize inclusion by welcoming each person’s individuality. We also care about every other aspect of an employee’s experience – from recruitment, onboarding, and personal growth to development and retirement. By creating an extraordinary employee experience and supporting the holistic well-being of our employees in both their professional careers and personal lives, we are empowering our employees to succeed each day.

T. W. FRANCESCON JR. Corporate Director of HR, Southern Champion Tray (SCT) We strive to foster a workplace where each of our 800 team members can grow, develop, and be fulfilled professionally and personally. At SCT, promotions are earned based on job performance and how well individuals live out our culture, demonstrated by SCT’s values (trustworthy, servant-hearted, relational, and resourceful). In addition, we offer Dave Ramsey’s SmartDollar financial program, FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember marriage conferences, confidential counseling through Shepherd’s Care, and mentoring and leadership programs. We are humbled when our co-workers say we care about them and their families as people and not just a number on paper. From a business standpoint, valuing our co-workers is good business, but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do and part of our mission to serve customers, value people, and glorify God.



JODY NIX Administrative Director & Chief HR Officer, Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation Strong compensation and benefits programs are the foundation of caring for our associates. At Siskin Hospital, we offer a share plan that provides a cash payment around Thanksgiving if the company meets certain financial metrics, and we also offer family meals that can be purchased weekly to assist with work-life balance. We provide an assortment of voluntary benefit programs, such as pet insurance, and most recently, we developed the CEO Values Award, which is a $1,000 cash award and trophy provided to an associate on a quarterly basis. This has set a tone within our organization that we recognize associates who bring value each and every day and make this hospital the best that it can be. If we don’t show them value, then someone else will.

SARAH STOKES Director of HR & Training, 3H Group, Inc. It is pivotal to the success of a company to celebrate your employees. Meaningful acts, no matter small or large, can deeply resonate with your staff. At 3H Group, each employee receives both a birthday and workplace anniversary card signed by the corporate staff each year, and both hotel and corporate staff gather monthly for lunch or breakfast paid for by the company. Corporate staff gathers outside of the office once a quarter for team-building outings such as dinner, ball games, and even axe throwing. We also believe that cross-training our associates is one of the best ways we can add value to their professional growth. We try to promote from within for our leadership and management positions, and managers will work with employees through coaching and counseling so that when the next position is open, they will be ready to apply and succeed.






JANELLE O’NEIL VP of People & Culture, Skuid

SHERYL JENKINS HR Department’s Director of Employee Services, EPB Now more than ever, it’s essential for employers to offer comprehensive benefits and competitive compensation. At EPB, we are committed to offering that, and we strive to foster inclusion by providing opportunities for employees to come together. We offer events that allow employees to bring their families, and lunchand-learns and wellness initiatives provide both personal and professional enrichment opportunities. Our employees care about growth and development, and in addition to more traditional offerings, we provide employees with opportunities to grow and learn in their position or one to which they aspire. Courses like Dale Carnegie offer the chance for employees to gain confidence and build relationships and is just one example of available offerings. Learning is an essential part of our culture, and seeing employees realize the achievement of their goals is inspiring.


Employees are your differentiator, your lifeblood, the most important piece of your company. By valuing them, you are valuing your product and your customers. At Skuid, we have really been prioritizing mental and physical health over the last year. We did this by adding extra holidays – making sure we had plenty of three-day weekends when employees could disconnect. We do have unlimited PTO but noticed people weren’t taking as much time off, so the extra holidays help make sure people get the rest they need. We’ve also been sending monthly packages to employees to let them know we appreciate them, and we host events such as weekly fitness and yoga classes and virtual Thirsty Thursdays. We are focusing on creating policies and processes that set us up for scale while still remaining agile and a place where employees can feel that they can affect change.

LORI FULMER Corporate VP of HR, Covenant Logistics As a leader, one of our most important jobs is to identify the next generation of leadership at our organization and reward them. We have several attributes that we look for in employees to determine the right time for promotion. Aside from that, we conduct semi-annual team member satisfaction surveys and give employees paid volunteer time off. We also host an annual driver appreciation week with special prizes and awards and have several flexible work options that allow team members to have more work-life balance. We recognize team members who go the extra mile with our Extra Mile Spotlight, which is circulated on TVs throughout the office and our intranet site. We always aim to provide a casual and welcoming work environment, and we operate under our core value, which are empathy, servanthood, and virtue.


YourPartner Partnerfor for a Better Your BetterBottom-Line Bottom-Line ɮƺȸ Ɏǝƺ ǼƏɀɎ ‫ ׎ז‬ɵƺƏȸɀً ! ³ ǝƏɀ ƫƺƺȇ Ə Ɏȸɖƺ ƫɖɀǣȇƺɀɀ ȵƏȸɎȇƺȸ ɯǣɎǝ ȅƏȇɵ ɮƺȸ Ɏǝƺ ǼƏɀɎ ‫ ׎ז‬ɵƺƏȸɀً ! ³ ǝƏɀ ƫƺƺȇ Ə Ɏȸɖƺ ƫɖɀǣȇƺɀɀ ȵƏȸɎȇƺȸ ɯǣɎǝ ȅƏȇɵ ƬȒȅȵƏȇǣƺɀ ɎȒ ɎƏǸƺ ƬȒɀɎ ȒɖɎ Ȓǔ ƺɮƺȸɵ ɎȸƏȇɀƏƬɎǣȒȇِ áǝƺɎǝƺȸ ǣɎ ƫƺ Ə ǼȒɯƺȸ ƬȒȅȵƏȇǣƺɀ ɎȒ ɎƏǸƺ ƬȒɀɎ ȒɖɎ Ȓǔ ƺɮƺȸɵ ɎȸƏȇɀƏƬɎǣȒȇِ áǝƺɎǝƺȸ ǣɎ ƫƺ Ə ǼȒɯƺȸ ȵȸȒƳɖƬɎ ȵȸǣƬƺً ƏǼɎƺȸȇƏɎƺ ȵȸȒƳɖƬɎ ɀƺǼƺƬɎǣȒȇً ǣȅȵǼƺȅƺȇɎƏɎǣȒȇ Ȓǔ Ə ȇƺɯ ȵȸȒƳɖƬɎ ȵȸǣƬƺً ƏǼɎƺȸȇƏɎƺ ȵȸȒƳɖƬɎ ɀƺǼƺƬɎǣȒȇً ǣȅȵǼƺȅƺȇɎƏɎǣȒȇ Ȓǔ Ə ȇƺɯ ȵȸȒƳɖƬɎǣɮǣɎɵ ɎȒȒǼً Ȓȸ Əȇ ǣȅȵȸȒɮƺƳ ȒȵƺȸƏɎǣȒȇƏǼ ƺǔǔǣƬǣƺȇƬɵً ! ³ ɯǣǼǼ ǝƺǼȵ Ƴȸǣɮƺ ȵȸȒƳɖƬɎǣɮǣɎɵ ɎȒȒǼً Ȓȸ Əȇ ǣȅȵȸȒɮƺƳ ȒȵƺȸƏɎǣȒȇƏǼ ƺǔǔǣƬǣƺȇƬɵً ! ³ ɯǣǼǼ ǝƺǼȵ Ƴȸǣɮƺ ƳȒɯȇ ɵȒɖȸ ƬȒɀɎɀ ɯǝǣǼƺ ƳƺǼǣɮƺȸǣȇǕ Ɏǝƺ ȵȸȒǕȸƏȅɀ ƏȇƳ ɀƺȸɮǣƬƺɀ ɵȒɖ ɀǝȒɖǼƳ ƳȒɯȇ ɵȒɖȸ ƬȒɀɎɀ ɯǝǣǼƺ ƳƺǼǣɮƺȸǣȇǕ Ɏǝƺ ȵȸȒǕȸƏȅɀ ƏȇƳ ɀƺȸɮǣƬƺɀ ɵȒɖ ɀǝȒɖǼƳ ƺɴȵƺƬɎ ǔȸȒȅ Ə ɮƺȇƳȒȸ ȵƏȸɎȇƺȸِ ƺɴȵƺƬɎ ǔȸȒȅ Ə ɮƺȇƳȒȸ ȵƏȸɎȇƺȸِ

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BEN STAPLES Director of HR, Kenco In today’s world, solid compensation and benefits have become table stakes. They can help in attracting talent but generally will not be the best way to retain it. At Kenco, we feel that the biggest differentiator we have is our culture of inclusivity. We recently launched three Employee Resource Groups (Multicultural, Women’s, and Military Veterans’) focusing on fostering a positive and diverse workforce. Another one of our areas of focus is learning and development. We utilize web-based training, succession planning, and leadership training, including a four-week Leadership Development Program for our highpotential employees. We also require many of our associates to create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to help provide a well-thought-out plan for professional development. Company events and incentives are also used to encourage, care for, and engage our associates. Besides just being the right thing to do, showing employees that you value them can improve engagement, productivity, morale, and overall retention.


JOANIE LOVE Director of People, Bellhop At Bellhop, our philosophy is, “We got you.” We have strong links between pay and performance because we believe people should be paid fairly for what they bring to the company, and we also want our team members to feel supported when life happens. For that, we offer paid parental and medical leaves, and we focus on morale with things such as paintball, cookouts, field days at Miller Park, and corn hole tournaments. The structure of Bellhop also allows our team members to grow their careers quickly. People can move between departments and roles and gain skills much more quickly than they might in another setting. We’ve created a Slack channel for shoutouts where team members can recognize one another, and our leadership team has a really great open-door policy. We also save space in every All Hands meeting to answer questions that people can submit anonymously. We frequently find that people who feel appreciated and valued have more to give to others, especially their co-workers and customers.


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With a vision for the future of discipling young people to become world-changers, Silverdale Baptist Academy is putting the final touches on the next campus space to do just that. Come see what we’re all about, and find out more about the Silverdale Center: CITYSCOPEMAG.COM « 1 9 9



When something is good, you want more of it, and businesses are no exception. A sure indication that a business is doing well and drawing customers is when it opens another location – or several. There are more than 900,000 franchise businesses in the United States alone, with the most ubiquitous of them all, 7-Eleven, having over 62,000 locations worldwide! And that doesn’t even account for local or regional non-franchise businesses that run multiple successful units. Of course, running any business presents certain difficulties – but being at the helm of a business with three or more locations is even more demanding. Here, we asked businesses around the city how they manage their several locations and various points of leadership under the umbrella of a single company.

(Second from right) Jay Floyd, Founder & CEO

THE ARK PET SPA & HOTEL Number of locations locally: 4 Are there any significant differences among your locations? What steps do you take to maintain consistency in your services across locations? We offer the same services at all our locations. Consistency starts with systemizing your processes. We spent years acquiring our expertise and months developing full-fledged operations manuals, brand standards guides, and training curriculum so that each of our locations can operate in a consistent and duplicatable manner. How do you manage delegation of tasks in the case of multiple locations? Delegation is a critical skill if you want to scale your business. Early on, I knew what I was good at, passionate about, and what I was not so good at. Bringing on a team that can help fill in any gaps and also tackle non-critical tasks is extremely important. Next is understanding that you must learn to delegate various tasks if you want to expand. You can’t take time to work on your business if you’re spending too much time in the weeds of your business.

Photos Courtesy of The Ark Pet Spa & Hotel

How do you handle hiring, training, and staffing for each location? Finding the right people who share the company’s values, have the right skills, and take ownership of their work is no easy task! Each and every one of our locations lists the same job descriptions first and foremost, so there is consistency in the brand. Next, the hiring manager must be trained or have enough experience in hiring and interviewing to gather the critical information from the candidates to make sure that they are qualified and a good fit for the company’s culture.




Becky Farmer, CEO

Are there any significant differences among your locations? What steps do you take to maintain consistency in your services across locations? There are geographical differences among our locations and differences in types of subspecialty of orthopedics. But we want to make sure that we’re remaining consistent with our services and policies among all our locations – and most importantly, that we remain a cohesive unit as a single Center for Sports Medicine family. How do you maintain ideal communication across units? It’s important for us to have very regular, dependable meetings. Everyone is expected to let the group know what’s going on in their department, what challenges they have, and how we can work together with those challenges, so that we don’t have individuals going out and trying to figure out solutions, but

we’re working together to keep a uniform company across all departments. How does successful management across multiple units look different from managing a single unit? With a single location, a manager or director can get up and walk around and physically lay eyes on their department and see what’s going on

ELDER’S ACE HARDWARE Number of locations: 22

and if there’s something we can do better. With multiple locations, where you can’t physically lay eyes on everything, that’s where IT systems, software, and reporting become very important for accountability. We have set up a very robust set of benchmarking tools where we look at multiple things that should be unvarying, no matter where you’re working from in the world.

Tom Glenn, President

Are there any significant differences among your locations? What steps do you take to maintain consistency in your products and services across locations? Our 22 stores range in size from 8,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet, so product assortment and displays do vary. We are not your typical franchise with identical assortments across all stores, and we are able to be creative and customize each store to its own market. But our core assortment of products and services has little variation. How important are the IT systems and work processes? Their importance increases all the time. One key to a consistent experience for our associates and customers is good IT systems – they don’t make mistakes, unlike humans sometimes. Work processes and checklists are essential, especially to keep merchandise in stock and maintain the store. IT systems also drive efficiency. But when it comes to excellent 2 0 2 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

customer service, our people must have the confidence to go off-script and use their judgment. We train them to be prepared – and training is a type of system. How do you handle hiring, training, and staffing for each location? One good thing about multiple units is that you are developing people at all locations, and

therefore, your people resources are growing exponentially. To grow your people, you must have a culture that believes in people development, a solid training program, and good systems to track training. A good development system creates a pipeline of leaders and managers with consistent values, beliefs, and skill levels.

(Top) Photo Courtesy of CSMO (Bottom) Photo Courtesy of Elder’s Ace Hardware

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6150 Shallowford Road, Suite 106 Chattanooga, TN 37421 423.531.4411 Office Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. True North Advisors is not a registered broker dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.

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Jim Coltrin, CFP ®

Managing Partners, True North Advisors at Raymond James Financial Advisors, RJFS | Raymond James Financial Services



(Center) Greg Vital, President

MORNING POINTE SENIOR LIVING Number of locations in the Greater Chattanooga Area: 7 How does successful management across multiple units look different from managing a single unit? Management of multiple units is more about scaling up your processes and procedures that were already established using trusted team partners, and then using a system of checks and balances to ensure that appropriate steps are being taken to carry out those processes. Morning Pointe associates are all focused on one theme: Resident care takes first priority. Daily communication is paramount to a multiple-unit approach. How do you manage delegation of tasks in the case of multiple locations? Morning Pointe uses a series of software systems to assist in the delegation of tasks, as well as daily and weekly followup by managers with their team members. Ownership conducts routine meetings with managers to ensure that each location is following proper protocols and procedures.

How important are the IT systems and work processes? Technology plays a very pivotal role at Morning Pointe. For example, each building utilizes a nursecall system that is used for day-to-day management of resident care, for things like medical appointments, medication management, and dietary needs.

How do you handle hiring, training, and staffing for each location? Morning Pointe has an office of culture and talent at the corporate level that manages the staffing needs at each location as well as training best practices. Each community is responsible for training, with oversight from the corporate office on ever-changing policies, procedures, and state and local health department guidelines.

David Brock, President

SPORTSBARN FITNESS CLUBS Number of locations: 3 Are there any significant differences among your locations? What steps do you take to maintain consistency in your services across locations? Each location has unique features; however, there are common threads throughout our three clubs. Above all, the top consistency we strive for is ensuring that each club feels like a community. While each Sportsbarn location does vary slightly, our communication and work processes are all modeled the same way. How does successful management across multiple units look different from managing a single unit? It’s more difficult, that’s for sure. Each club has different opportunities that we prioritize as a team, and resources are allocated accordingly. We have had many discussions in our staff meetings about what constitutes the most pressing needs for the business. We usually come to a consensus, but not always. 2 0 4 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

How do you manage delegation of tasks in the case of multiple locations? Each of our club managers has autonomy to make decisions as they see fit as far as day-to-day operations go. I think, for the most part, we do a good

job, and when we do stumble, we talk about it as a group and try to learn from it. Our members are frequently our best source of information on how we can improve, and we make it a point to listen to them.

(Top) Photo by Rich Smith (Bottom) Photo Courtesy of Sportsbarn

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LUPI’S PIZZA PIES Number of locations: 5

Dorris Shober, Owner

Are there any significant differences among your locations? What steps do you take to maintain consistency in your services and products across locations? There are no significant differences among Lupi’s five locations – they all have the exact same menu. One of the most important ways we maintain consistency among locations is through our operations manager Matt Douglass. He goes to every location many times a week and visually inspects our product for consistency – food in coolers prepped and ready to be made into the final product and also as it comes out of the oven. At each location, we also have a “cutting guide,” so that each topping we use is cut the same way, and strict adherence to recipes is stressed.

UNCLE LARRY’S RESTAURANT Number of locations: 3

How do you maintain ideal communication across units? Each month, we all gather together for several hours at one of Lupi’s locations with all locations’ general managers and assistant general managers, Matt, and myself. Also, every two weeks, there is a manager’s meeting at each location for that store’s managers that Matt also attends. How important are the IT systems and work processes? Other than every location using the same computerized point-of-sale cash register system, at Lupi’s we don’t use IT systems to help maintain consistency or communication among locations. The systems that are in place (checklists, prep lists, to-do lists) are tweaked to be store-specific. It is these systems that are essential for us to run a business with multiple units.

Larry Torrence, Founder & Owner

Are there any significant differences among your locations? What steps do you take to maintain consistency in your services and products across locations? The same food is offered at each of our three locations. Each cook is specially trained by me so that the food is sure to remain consistent across all our restaurants. How do you maintain ideal communication across units? I communicate daily with my managers, who fill me in on everything that is going on at each location. They keep me updated on issues regarding staff, supplies, customers, and anything else relevant to the everyday running of our restaurants. How does successful management across multiple units look different from managing a single unit? With multiple units, you have to be in contact with each manager at least three to four times throughout the day. How do you manage delegation of tasks in the case of multiple locations? Even though I delegate many tasks to my managers and rely on them to run their particular location, I still go by each store consistently to make sure that all is going smoothly. 2 0 6 « CITYSCOPEMAG.COM

How important are the IT systems and work processes? They are very important in order to keep up with the numbers. Our IT systems keep tabs on important figures across all units. How do you handle hiring, training, and staffing for each location? This doesn’t really change whether I have one location or several – I just post job openings and recruit via social media as well. (Top) Photo by Rich Smith (Bottom) Photo Courtesy of Uncle Larry’s Restaurant

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Selected for both their exceptional industry skills and their dedication to their workplace and community, the following business leaders make up CityScope® magazine’s prestigious Gold Club list this year. Congratulations to these impactful men and women on this well-deserved honor!



Nic Cornelison President, P&C Construction, Inc. Years with the company: 24 Nic Cornelison first started working for his dad and uncle’s commercial construction company – P&C Construction, Inc. – as a young teenager. Now, in his role as president, Cornelison manages the company’s day-to-day operations with projects across the Southeast, and under his leadership, P&C has grown to be one of the largest construction companies in Chattanooga. As chairman of Associated General Contractors East Tennessee, Cornelison is guiding the vision to launch the Construction Workforce Center, which, starting in July 2022, will help prepare individuals for employment in the construction industry. He additionally serves as vice president of the Southeast Brangus Breeders Association.

Linda Murray Bullard Chief Business Strategist, LSMB Business Solutions Years with the company: 8 Linda Murray Bullard founded LSMB Business Solutions in March of 2013; the company specializes in readying startups for success by creating a solid foundation, which helps them to implement and scale. In addition to her work at LSMB, Murray Bullard serves as a board member of the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga, and she is a certified Project Management Professional from the Project Management Institute. She holds an MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and she earned additional business administration degrees from both Bryan College and Chattanooga State Community College.

Scottie Bowman Owner, The Big Chill and Grill & Scottie’s on the River / Founder, The Launch Pad Years in the business: 25 Restaurateur Scottie Bowman has owned local hot spots The Big Chill and Grill for 25 years and Scottie’s on the River for three. In 2020, she founded The Launch Pad – a sober-living house for women in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. While no longer managing the day-to-day operations of the restaurants, Bowman has found success in her current administrative role, as each of her establishments has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also been involved with several organizations and nonprofits over the years, such as Cempa, the Kidney Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, and CHI Memorial’s Pink! gala, and regularly hosts fundraisers for them at her restaurants.



Photo Courtesy of Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC

Darlene Brown President & Downtown Managing Broker, Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC Years with the company: 14 Darlene Brown opened the doors of Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC in 2007 after seeing a need for a locally owned, woman-led real estate company in Chattanooga. Under Brown’s care, the company is now the largest of its kind in Chattanooga with three offices and over 140 REALTORS®. During her 40+ years in real estate, Brown has garnered many professional awards and positions, including Realtor of the Year and President of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®. Brown is known to be one of the earliest and strongest proponents of downtown living. She prioritizes giving back often through her work with various nonprofits and community boards.

Yancy Freeman, PhD Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Years with the university: 25 A 1992 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Dr. Yancy Freeman returned to his alma mater a few short years later to serve in a variety of roles, from admissions and recruitment to advising and student success. In his current role, Dr. Freeman works to increase enrollment as well as student engagement. Dr. Freeman is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and currently sits on the boards of the Public Education Foundation and the River City Company. He has also served as a member of 100 Black Men of Chattanooga. Dr. Freeman graduated from the University of Tennessee Executive Leadership Institute in 2020.

Rachel Davis, MBA Marketing Director, AFC Urgent Care TN & NC Years with the company: 5 Rachel Davis has worked in a wide range of industries throughout her career, including information technology, manufacturing, politics, the nonprofit sector – and now healthcare. She currently oversees marketing for more than 15 AFC Urgent Care clinics in Tennessee and North Carolina. Her marketing efforts are largely communitybased and reflect AFC’s values by providing educational and relatable information in a personal way. Davis is also an adjunct professor in the communications department at Lee University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in communications in 2007; she has held this role for the past eight years.



Danny Howard General Manager, Bahakel Communications Years with the company: 28 A passion for music and entertainment, coupled with a high school audition for a part-time DJ position, ignited Danny Howard’s radio career. Although the newly named general manager of Bahakel Communications – encompassing stations Sunny 92.3, Hits 96, Q-97.3/99.3, and Alt 98-7 – Howard is a familiar voice in the Chattanooga market, having programmed the stations for 28 years. He also plays a role in digital content and marketing and promotional efforts, constantly working to exceed the needs of the stations’ ad partners while enhancing the listener’s experience. Howard is a graduate of Western Carolina University, where he studied radio, television, film, and journalism.

David Banks, PhD Director of Leadership & Professional Development, Human Resources, City of Chattanooga Years with the city: 4 A certified speaker, trainer, and coach with The John Maxwell Team, Dr. David Banks provides invaluable resources and training to City of Chattanooga employees. His responsibilities include setting the culture for employees to be motivated and productive, onboarding new hires, and providing leadership development for department leaders. Dr. Banks also conducts training on topics such as personal growth and professional development on a national and international scale – from India to Australia to Pakistan – and he has authored two marriage books, two children’s books, and a leadership book. Banks holds a doctorate in psychology from Jacksonville Theological Seminary.

Anna Baker Creative Director, Stone Source, Inc. Years with the company: 18 Anna Baker left a career as a real estate broker to work with her husband Frank at Stone Source, Inc. in 2003. She has been involved with all aspects of the familyowned-and-operated business, from vendor relations to product training and advertising. Baker has developed a process to provide a sophisticated service model of one-on-one design, selection, and sales to enhance the customer experience. As a design-focused sales team leader, she has filled the showroom with a diverse collection of tile and countertop lines and staffed it with design consultants with expert product knowledge. A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Baker has a Bachelor of Arts degree.



Eunice Kal Officer & Owner, Kals International Years with the company: 14 Eunice Kal has owned several restaurants around Chattanooga since 2007, but her current role – in which she supports her management teams at her restaurants and supervises day-to-day operations in the corporate office – officially started three years ago. Kal has gained valuable knowledge and experience from working in management and supervisory roles, and she is also passionate about her community and partnering with local nonprofits. She oversees several goodwill projects that Kals International implements annually, such as a project that supplied food to first responders in the East Hamilton area following the tornado in 2020.

Marc W. Cromie Sr., MD President, Owner, & Senior Physician, Chattanooga Allergy Clinic, PLLC Years with the company: 21 In his first job as a waiter in high school, Dr. Marc Cromie learned that “the customer always comes first.” Years later, at Chattanooga Allergy Clinic, he continues to find success with this mantra. In his leadership role, Dr. Cromie helps oversee the clinic’s nine offices throughout Tennessee and Georgia while also seeing patients on a daily basis. He is a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology; and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Cromie has also served on the boards of T.C. Thompson’s Children’s Hospital Foundation, Emily’s Power for a Cure, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, among others.

David DeVaney, SIOR, CCIM President, NAI Charter Real Estate Corp. Years with the company: 33 As president of NAI Charter – a role he’s held since 1998 – David DeVaney oversees the operations, direction, and success of its sales team while also leading the property management team. DeVaney has extended NAI Charter’s influence through five states with a third-party listing portfolio of over $90 million, and in the last 10 years, he has successfully completed commercial transactions of over $250 million. With a goal of giving back to the community, he has served on the boards of the Lookout Mountain Conservancy, Young Life, CADAS, The University of Chattanooga Foundation, Rotary Club, and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.



Edna E. Varner, EdD Senior Advisor, Leading & Learning, PEF Chattanooga Years with the nonprofit: 8

Photo Courtesy of Kadi Brown

“I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams!” When Sewanee Vice Chancellor Reuben Brigety encouraged seniors at PEF’s Camp College to be precisely that, Dr. Edna Varner realized that she has been aspiring to it her whole life. She served 30 years as a teacher and principal before retiring to become the director of leadership development for a national literacy initiative. Since 2013, she has coached new teachers for PEF’s Project Inspire Teacher Residency. Dr. Varner has chaired seven local nonprofit boards and served on 20, spoken at education conferences on two continents, and represented PEF twice, addressing the U.S. Senate Education Committee on education reforms.

Kadi Brown Co-Owner & Licensed Broker, The Group Real Estate Brokerage Years with the company: 4 Kadi Brown has more than 15 years of experience in the real estate industry, but founding The Group Real Estate Brokerage with business partner Jason Farmer in 2017 was a definite highlight. Her typical workday includes tending to the company’s real estate agents’ needs, providing a desirable company culture, and managing new home sales for her builder clients, all while kicking off a new division focusing on marketing and sales for regional builders and the new home sales industry. Brown has also been actively involved in many community organizations, from Greater Chattanooga Realtors and the Homebuilders Association of Greater Chattanooga to the Baylor Alumni Board and Northside Neighborhood House.

R. Steve Hunt Managing Partner & Principal Broker, Berry & Hunt Years with the company: 22 R. Steve Hunt is a managing partner and principal broker at Berry & Hunt, a fullservice commercial real estate company. After obtaining his real estate license in 1982 while attending UTC, Hunt joined with Jim Berry in 1988 to lead the marketing and leasing of Republic Centre – one of Chattanooga’s most successful office redevelopment projects. Hunt and Berry formalized their partnership as Berry & Hunt in 1999 and achieved success with numerous redevelopment projects, most notably Liberty Tower. Recently transitioning to more real estate brokerage, including tenant representation, commercial brokerage, and investment, Hunt enjoys assisting clients and his partners achieve their goals.



Guru Shah CEO, Shah Trucking & Shah Logistics / Vice President, Hamilton Plastics Years with the companies: 7 / 15 Pulling double duty, Guru Shah works for his family’s business, Hamilton Plastics, as well as his own ventures, Shah Trucking and Shah Logistics. On the transportation side, he empowers his teams to accelerate controlled and profitable growth while offering a high-quality level of service, and his role at Hamilton Plastics is largely centered in efficiency optimization and organizational development. Outside of these roles, Shah serves on the boards of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Heart Ball, and Baylor School Alumni. He is a 2006 graduate of Baylor School, a 2010 graduate of Vanderbilt University, and a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga.

Maury Nicely Member, Evans Harrison Hackett PLLC Years with the company: 11 An attorney at law firm Evans Harrison Hackett PLLC, Maury Nicely has been practicing law for 24 years. Specializing in labor and employment, he primarily represents businesses – from small local startups to national corporations – with responsibilities including handling litigation and other legal issues, ensuring appropriate policies and procedures are in place, and advising on business decisions in order to avoid creating unnecessary legal exposure. An avid student of Chattanooga history, Nicely is currently on the boards of directors for the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, East Tennessee Historical Society, Cornerstones (Chattanooga’s historic preservation organization), and Rotary Club.

Business Manager, Maycreate / Sales Operations Manager, EYE Corp Media/Velocity Years with the companies: 17 / 15

Photo Courtesy of Erin May

Erin May

With a background in art history and historic preservation, Erin May turned her professional career from museum education and preservation tax credit consulting to the realm of advertising in 2004, after founding Maycreate with her husband Brian. May currently oversees business operations and staff hiring, where she most values her service in running an efficient agency with a dynamic and talented creative team. Along with her role at Maycreate, she also holds a position with an Ohiobased digital out-of-home media company, where she delivers national media plans for major brands and buying agencies.



Jim Vaughn Partner in Charge, Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC Years with the company: 22 Jim Vaughn leads Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC’s Tennessee efforts while also providing assurance, advisory, and tax advice to private equity and financial institution clients and a few high-net-worth families in the Southeast. He’s been with Mauldin & Jenkins for 22 years and a Chattanooga resident for six. Vaughn is a member of the UTC Gary W. Rollins College of Business Advisory Board and president of the Cherokee Area Council – Boy Scouts of America. He is a Certified Public Accountant in the states of Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida, and he holds a BBA from Georgia Southern University in accounting and finance.

Arney Guess Owner, Arney Guess Goldsmith, LLC Years with the company: 34

Photo Courtesy of Camille Daniel

Arney Guess has been supplying diamonds and fine jewelry, as well as custom pieces and repairs, to the Chattanooga area for 34 years. Arney first began working with gold in 1969, making dental crowns with his father, and a little more than 10 years later, he started turning precious metals into jewelry – eventually leading to the 1987 debut of Arney Guess Goldsmith, LLC, with his wife, Sheila, at his side. Today, the Hixson-based business is fully staffed with seven jewelers on-site, making it one of the most equipped and capable repair shops locally. Arney serves as owner, operator, master jeweler, and namesake.


Camille Daniel Chief Banking Officer, RockPoint Bank Years with the company: 1 Camille Daniel is one of the founders of the new locally owned and managed RockPoint Bank. As a 25-year veteran of the Chattanooga banking community, Daniel serves as chief banking officer and leads RockPoint’s business development efforts. She and her team at RockPoint are focused on the commercial needs of the small- to medium-sized business segment, as well as the personal banking needs of owners, operators, and professionals in the community. Daniel currently serves on the CHI Memorial Foundation board and is a 2013 graduate of Leadership Chattanooga.


Gina Sakich Principal Broker & Owner, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Signature Brokers Years with the company: 7 Gina Sakich’s passion and forte is bringing real estate developments to life – evidenced by the extraordinary track record she’s made among 27 successful developments in the Chattanooga area over the past three decades. In 2014, she founded her firm – Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Signature Brokers – initially to support all of her developments. Ultimately, she found she equally loved supporting agents and helping them succeed. Sakich is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and Tennessee Association of REALTORS®, and she plays an active role in organizations such as Erlanger Children’s Hospital and the local community kitchen and homeless shelter.

Ryan H. Allen Senior Vice President, Pointe Property Group Years with the company: 18 In his role as senior vice president, Ryan Allen oversees the planning, development, and operations of Pointe Property Group and related companies Pointe Commercial Real Estate and Pointe General Contractors. Some of his responsibilities include putting together and reviewing financial analyses for potential projects, collaborating with the in-house team and third-party consultants and contractors throughout a project, and restructuring and re-capitalizing existing assets. He has served as president of the Building Owners and Managers Association, and he has also been involved with various outdoor communities, such as Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Allen is an avid fisherman, hunter, and whitewater kayaker.

Chief Operating Officer, Skin Cancer & Cosmetic Dermatology Center (SCCDC) Years with the company: 15 With almost 40 years of experience in healthcare, Kelley Finnell has served in a number of leadership roles. While serving as executive director at SCCDC, Finnell was named COO in 2018. She oversees day-to-day operations, providing leadership, vision, and direction to her team of more than 250 employees. Under her guidance, they have successfully grown to a multi-specialty group spanning 13 locations throughout Georgia and Tennessee. She credits her entire team for the group’s effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and because of their dedication and commitment, SCCDC continues to make a positive impact on their patients and the communities in which they serve.

Photo Courtesy of Kelley Finnell

Kelley Finnell


Photo by Andrew Rayn


Kira Headlee Vice President, Brewer Media Group Years with the company: 28

Photo by Andrew Rayn

Kira Headlee first came to work for Brewer Media Group in December 1993. She started in promotions before moving to traffic operations and sales, and a few years later, she was overseeing office operations, accounting, and human resources – doing most everything at the station except being on-air. Headlee takes great pride in her staff, many of whom have received national recognitions in the industry. Outside of work, Headlee enjoys working with and inspiring confidence in young ladies through organizations like the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians, as well as spending time at a girls’ summer camp in Crossville, Tennessee.

Marco Perez Director of Operations, La Paz Chattanooga Years with the nonprofit: 1

Photo Courtesy of Jamey Dye

Born and raised in Costa Rica, Marco Perez moved with his wife and daughters to Chattanooga in 2011 and quickly became involved in the community. As of April of 2021, he is the director of operations for La Paz Chattanooga, where he supports the mission of empowering and engaging the city’s Latinx population. He is also the most recent member of the Hamilton County Schools board. Through his prior work at LAUNCH Chattanooga and his independent work as a consultant through Relife Strategies, LLC, he has supported dozens of entrepreneurs and seen many of them grow and achieve tremendous results.


Jamey Dye President, COS Business Products & Interiors Years with the company: 15 Jamey Dye was named president of COS (Chattanooga Office Supply) in 2017, although he was no stranger to the company – having been a part of operations since 2006. As president, he is responsible for all aspects of the business, including the day-to-day operations, financial management, and customer service. Before coming to COS, Dye previously served as the vice president of sales at Fulmarque, Inc. in Cleveland. Dye studied international economics at Delta State University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is also a coach for GPS and McCallie, as well as a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga.


Photo by Andrew Rayn

Pete Frederick President & CEO, Grain Craft Years with the company: 18 As president and CEO of Grain Craft, Pete Frederick develops and leads the strategic vision of the company, drives company culture, and is responsible for the company’s financial results. Outside of the office, Frederick is a mentor and presenter for The 10 Project and an elder at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church. He is also actively involved with the McNabb Center Foundation and North American Millers Association, and he’s a regional economic contributor to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Frederick earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Iowa and was selected to participate in the Global Leadership Program during a 17-year tenure at Cargill.

Photo by Andrew Rayn

Dexter White President, Dexter W. White Construction Years with the company: 29 After earning a degree in engineering, Dexter White worked in the commercial, nuclear, and residential construction industry before founding his own company in 1992. As a hands-on president of Dexter W. White Construction, he oversees construction management – devoting time and attention to every custom home built. White has put together an expertly trained team of specialists, from project managers and interior designers to trusted vendors and suppliers, to ensure that the highest level of customer service and satisfaction is achieved. White is a licensed general contractor in the state of Tennessee.

IV Whitman Marketing, Advertising, & Brand Management for McLemore, Scenic Land Company, & Scenic Land Investments Years with the company: 5 IV Whitman’s advertising career has taken him to Chicago, San Francisco, Kansas City, Asheville, and, most recently, the Scenic City. His role within the Scenic Land Company portfolio of brands provides oversight and guidance of corporate branding, marketing and advertising strategies, creative development, and brand experience. This touches on everything from the development of national advertising campaigns to the apparel in McLemore’s golf shop. Whitman serves as a Eucharistic minister at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chattanooga and has previously served as an international team member for the Global Orphan Project in Kansas City.


New name, same great stations. NEWS you need. SPORTS you love. PODCASTS you crave. MUSIC you can’t live without.

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Financial Perspectives “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” - Alan Lakein, author on time management


Lessons Examining the Long-Term Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis BY RAY RYAN, CFA


This article is a follow up to last year’s “Pandemics & Paradigms” in which I wrote: “targeted isolation has become necessary for a socio-economic system that prospers from connections … extreme measures involved quickly dismantling, at least temporarily, economic and cultural structures that required decades of investment. The abrupt reversal from the interconnected structure of our economy came at a tremendous cost.”

Ray Ryan is the president of Patten and Patten, an investment management firm, and a registered investment adviser in Chattanooga. Ray is a CFA charter holder, a member of the advisory board for UTC’s College of Business, and an adjunct professor of finance at UTC. He is a graduate of Princeton University, where he had the privilege of taking a course taught by former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

The global pandemic is not over, but it is not premature to examine potential long-term impacts. Ultimately, new regulations will emerge, designed to better prepare our nation for the next crisis. Policy makers will continue to debate causes of the pandemic, launch investigations, assign blame, and propose solutions. However, policy is beyond the scope of this article. This article looks forward, but in order to do so, it is first necessary

to critically analyze the past 18 months. There are important lessons from the COVID-19 crisis that, hopefully, inform future health and economic policies. Confronted with a novel coronavirus in spring 2020, policy makers responded with familiar methods developed in much different eras. For example, epidemiological models that continue to guide policy date back to the 1950s and rely on data that proved unreliable. Similar to healthcare, models still utilized for economic policy also date back to that era. Traditional economic models rely on aggregate, top-down data and include assumptions that are often unrealistic. COVID-19 has affected people quite differently. Disease severity has been highly sensitive to comorbidities and demographic factors, and symptoms and transmission rates varied widely. These heterogeneous qualities presented challenges for managing the spread. They also contributed to multiple, competing theories about how best to treat the disease. Because some people are more susceptible to COVID-19 and other people are more likely to spread the virus, some researchers have explored new methods and gone beyond traditional approaches. They have built adaptive models from real-time, granular data, such as smart thermometer readings, satellite imagery, credit card usage, and key word searches. The data was compiled from applications created for ubiquitous technology platforms such as smartphones and wearable devices. Several of the adaptive models have proven to be both more accurate and reliable than the ones that had been used for decades.

Reliance on outdated methods should not be necessary during the next crisis. That is an important lesson as newer approaches should facilitate quicker, more effective responses. Technology now exists that provides insight into how people actually behave as opposed to how the average person is assumed to behave. Researchers have built models from data that better define and measure inflation, for example. There are also newer models that more accurately predict the transmissibility of a viral pathogen. The use of technology that collects and analyzes the best available data is an important lesson from the pandemic. The data could be used to develop better, more targeted policies. Better policies should, in turn, result in better outcomes. Another lesson is that, similar to other crises, COVID-19 has accelerated trends already in place. For instance, subscriptions to video streaming services grew rapidly to fill the void of traditional forms of entertainment that became temporarily unavailable. Electronic commerce became necessary for the safe delivery of basic household needs. The explosive growth of e-commerce during regional economic shutdowns accelerated the Darwinian demise of many brick-and-mortar retail concepts. Society is returning to “normal.” However, there is debate as to how “normal” will be defined. COVID-19 reinforced the view that crises serve as catalysts for change. Academics have already published prognostications as to how society will change, but inasmuch as some change is inevitable, there will also be a strong desire to return to the way things were. Technology allowed many businesses to operate efficiently with employees CITYSCOPEMAG.COM « 2 2 1

Financial Perspectives

in distant locales. Zoom and other video conferencing platforms confirmed “work from anywhere” was possible without substantial reductions in productivity. These facts suggest “normal” could include a certain percentage of workers who never return to the office. A person’s work life and home life might no longer involve physical distance. However, some employers argue “work from anywhere” reduced the frequency of spontaneous, collaborative engagements crucial to the creative process. As a society, one vital lesson of the pandemic has been the importance of face-to-face connections. It is likely that society will never again take for granted the ability to gather with friends and family. It is, therefore, to be expected that certain job functions will remain “work from anywhere,” whereas others will require a return to the office. The global economy is essentially an adaptive system of interconnected networks. Companies have invested for decades to expand their global reach. Imagine a complex design with nodes and edges that join together in a shifting and growing web of connections. A node is simply a redistribution point, and the strength of a network derives from connections between nodes. However, the vulnerability of a network is dependent on those same nodes.


“Without global collaboration and cooperation, the world would not be emerging from the pandemic. That is a source of tremendous optimism for our future.” Companies also invested to optimize operations with an intense focus on efficiency improvements. They eliminated redundancies and constructed supply chains often around a single source. By doing so, supply chains became more and more vulnerable to small disruptions, often at a single node. In effect, modern economic systems traded security for efficiency. Spread of a virus follows network architecture. The greater the number of connections, the faster the virus spreads. To combat a virus, it is necessary to temporarily disconnect certain nodes. To mitigate the impact of natural disasters such as COVID-19, companies could incorporate greater redundancy in their operations. Organizations might hold greater cash reserves. Inventory management could become less oriented toward “just in time.” To overcome COVID-19, it has been necessary for the entire world to dedicate its resources toward a singular pursuit. Coordinated global responses during COVID-19 were similar to earlier periods of global crisis. During World War II, code breakers at Bletchley Park, northwest of London, broke Enigma, the German encryption system for military communica-

tions. They coordinated their work with cryptanalysts for the other Allied powers, including the United States. The cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park received no special treatment, and they persevered under miserable circumstances for several years. It is estimated the work of these code breakers shortened WWII by two years. The technology developed to break Enigma became the foundation for platform technologies upon which other scientists build applications that we use today. Similar to the Great Space Race of the 1960s, the global effort to understand the biology of SARS-CoV-2, to build accurate testing, to develop therapies and treatments, and to create effective vaccines will contribute a near endless stream of data and information from which bright minds will develop visionary new innovations for coming decades. The biggest breakthrough in the global battle with COVID-19 was, of course, the development of a highly effective vaccine using unproven technology. A husband and wife team formed a small company called BioNTech in 2008 to apply messenger-RNA (“mRNA”) technology in cancer research. Over breakfast in January 2020, they wondered if mRNA could be used for COVID-19. They and researchers at Moderna effectively “cracked the code” of COVID-19 in a few days. BioNTech partnered with Pfizer, a U.S. pharmaceutical giant, and there are already several hundred million people who have received the vaccine. It is clear that the mRNA innovation shortened the duration of the pandemic and likely saved hundreds of thousands of lives. A coordinated global effort was necessary to solve a global problem. Without global collaboration and cooperation, the world would not be emerging from the pandemic. That is a source of tremendous optimism for our future.


One Answer Does Not Fit All Your Tolerance for Risk BY JULIE DAVIS

Oftentimes, clients are looking for advice on whether they should pay off debt – usually a home mortgage – or invest their cash. They find themselves in a perplexed situation of debt versus investment and completely unsure of which is best for their financial goals. Most people think it should be a simple question for a financial professional. It’s just a math problem, right? Absolutely not. This is one of the most unique situations in your financial story and a question which requires a deep look into your individual situation to answer it appropriately. Usually, this question comes up following an unexpected windfall of cash – sometimes due to an inheritance, a severance package, a settlement, a retirement payout, or even a lottery win. Often, it’s after years of disciplined savings finally reaching a goal, or a promotion or new

job bringing an increase in discretionary income into the household that needs to be directed to the appropriate place in the family budget. Regardless of the source of the cash, the decision is the same: What do we do with it? There is a plethora of studies and research available at your fingertips to help you determine if the math makes more sense one way or the other – to pay off debt or invest. Data like interest rates, time periods, principal, risk tolerances, etc. will be used to help make comparisons and run calculations. You can plug in your data, and the calculators will spit out the numbers you are searching for. It’s all very black and white, and the math can make perfect sense. The answers could help you determine if today’s market and interest rate environment may be better suited for debt reduction or

Financial advisor Julie Cook Davis has been with Round Table Advisors of Raymond James since June 1998. She is the team’s insurance specialist and holds Series 7 and 63 licenses as well as an insurance license.


Financial Perspectives

Everyone has a different tolerance for risk, and oftentimes, those tolerances change based on economic cycles, current events, personal experiences, and so on. Risk tolerance is not static.

investment opportunity. This is strictly a numbers comparison. The calculator is helping you determine if, based on all the data you input, you could ultimately make more money at the end of the hypothetical period paying off debt or by investing the same amount of money. That aspect of the choice is just a math problem. One can easily run these scenarios and compare numbers on paper to find what the statistics may show as the optimal choice for them, but investing is so much more than numbers on paper or a computer screen. Which approach is right for you really depends on how you feel about and how comfortable you are with debt and how comfortable you are with the risk you take on by investing in the market.

The average person has to ask themselves, “What is my tolerance to risk?” and answer honestly. Everyone has a different tolerance for risk, and oftentimes, those tolerances change based on economic cycles, current events, personal experiences, and so on. Risk tolerance is not static – it’s a variable that applies to both debt and investments. For some, debt brings more stress, sleepless nights, and worry. Assuming we are always referring to investments as we speak about risk tolerance is incorrect. Each personal situation is unique and has to be dealt with individually. There is no universal answer to this question, no matter how many times it’s asked. The need for cash and an emergency fund is also a factor used while considering

this question. Paying off debt can eliminate a cash reserve and leave no access for an emergency or liquid fund. Most financial advisors will agree that three to six months of cash in an easily accessible account is something everyone should have regardless of their financial situation. This should be established before any debt reduction or investment plan is considered. The answer I or anyone else can most consistently and confidently offer is to make sure you are asking yourself the right questions, provide full, honest, and thorough answers, and seek counsel from trusted professionals who can help guide you toward making the best possible decisions to meet your financial goals.

Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Round Table Advisors is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Any opinions are those of Julie Davis and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.


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