Enterprise Magazine 2022

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The Rainmaker Angie Grissom is changing workplace culture one company at a time and changing lives along the way


ENTERPRISE 2022 / Vol. 6, No. 1 Dean, Jones College David Urban • Strategic Communications Specialist, Jones College Darby Campbell-Firkus • Senior Editor Drew Ruble • Senior Director, Creative Marketing Solutions Kara Hooper • Designer Brittany Blair Stokes • Associate Editor Carol Stuart Contributing Writer Skip Anderson • Contributing Editor Nancy Broden • University Photographers Cat Curtis Murphy, Andy Heidt, J. Intintoli, James Cessna • University President Sidney A. McPhee University Provost Mark Byrnes • Vice President for Marketing and Communications Andrew Oppmann

mtsu.edu/business Address changes: Advancement Services, MTSU Box 109, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, alumni@mtsu.edu. Other correspondence: Jones College, 1301 E. Main St., MTSU Box 101, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. 4,000 copies printed at Pollock Printing, Nashville, Tennessee. 0322-0438 / Middle Tennessee State University does not discriminate against students, employees, or applicants for admission or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age, status as a protected veteran, genetic information, or any other legally protected class with respect to all employment, programs, and activities sponsored by MTSU. The Interim Assistant to the President for Institutional Equity and Compliance has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies and can be reached at Cope Administration Building 116, 1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132; Christy.Sigler@mtsu.edu; or 615-898-2185. The MTSU policy on non-discrimination can be found at mtsu.edu/iec.



4 Letter from the Dean #JonesCollegeofBusiness 5 Alumni and friends share best career advice they’ve been given

6 Fitting the Need Jones College’s Industry Supported Learning Experience (ISLE) program embeds problem-solving students at Fortune 500 companies

14 Supply and Demand MTSU’s new Supply Chain Management degree places graduates in the sweet spot of global logistics

21 Change Makers Jones College faculty and staff publish thought leadership in partnership with the Nashville Business Journal

22 Influence with Gen Z Marketing prof “Dr. Raj” turns TikTok takes into fame

26 Research Briefs A look at some results of faculty studies on business topics

28 The Rainmaker Angie Grissom is changing workplace culture one company at a time and changing lives along the way

34 Off the Bench MTSU fan favorite Chase Miller is a rising star in commercial real estate

38 Jones College All★Stars All of our faculty, staff, and students contribute to our college’s success, and here we highlight a few exceptional individuals

49 Business Matters Your guide to what’s happening at Jones College

JONES COLLEGE Cover photo by Darby Campbell-Firkus Hannah Beylor, Entrepreneurship minor, represented her enterprise The Us Agency in the 2022 Business Plan Competition finals, taking home an honorable mention and Best Elevator Pitch. Photo by James Cessna

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Jones College is not sitting on its laurels. The news and features in this issue include successes in curriculum redesign, more realworld engagement for our students, how our faculty are leading efforts in digital promotion, and achievements of our alumni. In fall 2021, we learned that our Information Systems undergraduate program received initial accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This distinction keeps Jones College at the forefront of other universities in the region regarding information technology. Jones College programs continue to draw national attention. MTSU’s Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program received the Small Business Institute’s 2022 Showcase Award, signifying the top entrepreneurship program of the year. The MTSU Collegiate DECA Chapter was recognized with a 2022 Chapter Leadership Passport Diplomat Award, one of only 18 given nationally. Our Department of Management has been especially busy. The redesigned major in Management and Leadership, which involved an intense effort by faculty over a two-year period, also now includes a concentration in Human Resource Management. And the department is spinning off a standalone M.S. in Supply Chain Management, which will boost the program’s image and enrollment. 4 | ENTERPRISE

Our M.B.A. program continues to thrive with greater implementation of our Industry Supported Learning Experiences (ISLE) initiative. The companies involved and the participating students who attempt to solve an existing real-life problem have judged the program a “win-win.” Our faculty are doing research about cutting-edge topics. For example, “Dr. Raj” Srivastava is becoming a national expert in digital marketing, particularly using TikTok as a marketing tool. Finally, our alumni continue to make us proud. You’ll read about Angie Grissom, one of the most influential people in the accounting profession, whose perspectives on the future make her a sought-after speaker. As always, I am very proud of Jones College. As I complete my ninth year as dean, it continues to be my privilege to lead a business program that has gone beyond regional impact and is gaining more attention on the national stage.

David Urban Dean, Jones College of Business

#JONESCOLLEGEOFBUSINESS WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE ANYONE HAS EVER GIVEN YOU? Jones College alumni and friends shared their answers with us across social media. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Reddit. We want to hear from you!

Be loyal to a mission—not a company, person, or place.

Find a reason to care about what you do, something that helps make it personal for


Expect the best, be prepared for the worst, and you can handle anything in between!

Do not shrink yourself for someone else.

SHINE authentically and they can step up or step down.

Underpromise and overdeliver!

Managing expectations is 90% of success.



You should always be looking for your next job. That way if you are staying where you currently are, it is because you want to and not because you must.

Relationships matter. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you


Stop being afraid of job hopping. It’s more accepted nowadays, and it ultimately makes you more money and can progress your career faster.

Don’t take your boss a PROBLEM, take them a SOLUTION.



CREATE IT. No matter the job or how much you like or dislike it, do it well. Be the best you can be for yourself. 2022 | 5




Greg Nagel, associate professor


reg Nagel, a decorated associate professor of Finance in MTSU’s Jones College of Business, approaches the inner workings of businesses in novel ways. Take, for instance, how he explains analyzing a business model to a C-suite neophyte. “Sometimes you are dealing with data that doesn’t make sense,” said Nagel, who holds an M.S. in Engineering, an M.B.A., and a Ph.D. “It’s like planning a major family vacation. There may be information missing about lodging specifics or details on your itinerary. But even knowing this you decide to go anyway, trusting yourself to figure out the rest as you go.” Nagel says it’s just this type of confidence and adaptability that corporate leaders are looking for when hiring and promoting. (Amazon is a prime example.) Leaders who can adapt to an ever-evolving array of dynamics that can—and will—pop up. This includes the mundane— say, a broken supply chain of raw materials that slows production at a factory—to game-changers such as a new technology that can render existing technologies archaic overnight. “Adapt or die” is a mantra for the fast-changing, internet-driven world of business leadership. The often-chaotic ecosystem of the corporate world requires leaders to, as Nagel puts it, “nimbly adapt to unknowns.” “One hundred years ago, the business world was comparatively stable,” Nagel said. “But today’s world calls for professionals who can respond quickly and effectively to change. That’s the gold standard of hiring today.”

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Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate and Executive Education

Become a marketing leader of tomorrow New M.B.A. concentration in Strategic Marketing Analytics

• Advanced analytic tools and real-world data sets • Intelligence integration for digital campaigns • Hands-on experience developing branding strategies



Nagel and Greg Merriman (‘92), a private equity investor, MTSU alumnus, and adjunct instructor of Accounting, co-teach a graduate-level course titled Decision Making in Accounting and Finance. It focuses on Industry Supported Learning Experience (ISLE) projects. These projects enhance the Master of Business Administration students’ educational experience by using real company data and having students interact with company executives. Together, Nagel and Merriman instill in their students that adaptability is not a gear reserved for times of crisis. Rather, it is a muscle for modern-day executives to engage daily. Students get depth of knowledge on their ISLE projects and breadth of knowledge by examination of the accounting and financial tools used in 30 prior projects.

THE OFTEN-CHAOTIC ECOSYSTEM OF THE CORPORATE WORLD REQUIRES LEADERS TO . . . “NIMBLY ADAPT TO UNKNOWNS.” “Greg Merriman and I set out to design a curriculum for this course that would not only equip students for success but also respond to the needs of the business community,” Nagel said. “Nashville business leaders uniformly told us they wanted employees who could nimbly adapt to unknowns. They want candidates who can demonstrate the successful completion of real projects in their world, not just theoretical problems or cases. Real projects require pivoting to adapt to real-time information, collaborating well when stressed, team building, valuing diversity, critical thinking, learning skills on the fly, being directly accountable to executives, and rapid network building.” Launched in fall 2020, the ISLE program pairs teams of three to five M.B.A. students with “coaches” who have significant executive experience in their respective industries. The focus for the teams is to seek innovative solutions to real-world challenges facing businesses. The businesses participating in the ISLE program vary in size, from locally owned singlelocation storefronts to global companies that employ tens of thousands of people. Merriman’s background in private equity makes him a known quantity in executive offices across the globe. As such, he’s made multiple connections to business leaders, which has made many projects possible. Further, MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business engaged the services of an executive-in-residence to help recruit more client companies and coaches.

“The liaison within each of these companies matches the effort of our coaches, and they really commit to these projects,” Nagel said. “The rest is up to the students.”

CASES IN POINT In the ISLE program’s first year, teams of M.B.A. students worked with two local Fortune Global 500 companies: Nashville-based Healthcare Corporation of America (HCA) and Schneider Electric, with its American headquarters in Franklin. The project with global health care giant HCA involved emergency room follow-up. The company had been having trouble connecting with patients seen in its ERs who were discharged with a referral. The goal was to identify an effective and efficient follow-up communication with patients after ER referrals. One of the M.B.A. students working on that project was Jessica Bekar, an 11-year veteran of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, where she serves as special project coordinator. Bekar is also executive assistant to Col. Dereck Stewart of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP). In those roles, she manages a multitude of projects for the THP, including the trooper hiring process, special events, awards, and recognition. Working alongside the men and women of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and seeing their dedication to impaired driving enforcement inspired Bekar to join the Tennessee State Advisory Board of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Bekar said her ISLE group analyzed “millions of lines of data” and made recommendations for improving hospital operations in contacting patients after discharge.

OUR COACHES GET THE STUDENTS OUT OF STUDENT MODE, WHICH IS TO FOLLOW. “Our team identified specific ER referral patient segments with areas of opportunity in follow-up communication,” Bekar said. “We identified efficient forms of communication to follow up with patients within these areas of opportunity.” According to Bekar, the project provided students an opportunity to apply the skills they had learned in business school to a real-life challenge.

“We had been told businesses want employees who can nimbly adapt to unknowns, and the M.B.A. ISLE program tests your ability to do that,” she said. “Seven weeks is a short amount of time to analyze data, conduct hours of research, make viable recommendations, and prepare a product that can be used by the sponsoring company. “To be successful required collaboration of individuals who had never worked together collectively. We had to quickly learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, build trust in one another, and work as a team. Owning this real project from start to finish helped build our confidence in our problem-solving abilities and decision-making skills.” Bekar has been in the workforce for more than 20 years, but that is not the case for many Jones College of Business students. Thanks to the ISLE program, less-experienced students gain valuable time working on real-life projects that they can reference when interviewing for a job.

THE FOCUS FOR THE TEAMS IS TO SEEK INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS TO REAL-WORLD CHALLENGES FACING BUSINESSES. “This is important to students with less work experience as well as more experienced students such as me who have never worked in the private sector,” Bekar added. “I am hopeful that this experience will help me prepare for future career opportunities.” One of Bekar’s team members was fellow M.B.A. student Diana Skordallos, who now works for HCA as a staff accountant at its Sarah Cannon Cancer Research Institute. Previously, she was a supervisory recreation specialist with the U.S. Air Force managing a military outdoor recreation center at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma. “The project was an excellent way to take the skills we had learned in previous classes and apply it to a ‘real world’ issue,” Skordallos said. “It also gave us an opportunity to interact with professionals from a different industry than most of us had previously worked in.” On the Schneider Electric project, the challenge facing a different group of students was to find a way to address the churn in Schneider’s customer base. The students pored over recent customer satisfaction surveys, assigning each respondent 10 | ENTERPRISE

a Net Promoter Score. The higher the score, the more likely the person is to remain a Schneider customer and recommend the company to others. In the group’s final presentation, they recommended Schneider focus only on winning the hearts of the median group—those who might not be enthusiastic about promoting Schneider for reasons that might be fixable.

TO BE SUCCESSFUL REQUIRED COLLABORATION OF INDIVIDUALS WHO HAD NEVER WORKED TOGETHER COLLECTIVELY. “Churning customers means losing money,” Nagel said. “Trying to win back the customers who are least satisfied with you might not be a great investment. This team advised Schneider to focus on the middle group. That’s a moveable needle. A personal response from the company to show interest in them and their experience and apologize when appropriate and make it up— that’s a proven strategy for success.” Kyle Hamm, Schneider’s North American vice president of customer transformation, indicated they had not examined the churn problem from that perspective before, so the recommendation was illuminating to Schneider in a meaningful way. “The MTSU M.B.A. students’ recommendation for increasing our Net Promoter Score has become part of our global strategy,” Hamm said.

RAMPING UP What sets Jones College of Business’ ISLE program apart from other reputable programs with similar industry-supported projects? “The difference is the coach we connect our students with,” Nagel said. “They all are successful in their respective industries, and they are really good at what they do. They know the questions to ask, but they’re not going to provide the answers. Some other universities’ programs don’t even have coaches. It’s great to have students who are fired up, but that’s not enough. They need a coach who can teach these students to lead and to identify problems quickly and figure it out. And sometimes they need to learn the lessons of failure, too. Taking risks is what business leaders do. Our coaches get the students out of student mode, which is to follow. These experiences teach our students to lead.”

M.B.A. students Jessica Bekar and Diana Skordallos (r) worked with HCA’s Ryan Richardson to help solve a company concern. Photo by James Cessna

To date, 30 groups have participated in the ISLE program, some in other M.B.A. courses. As in business, many M.B.A. teams provided value to the businesses they engaged, but not always. The goal is to continue improving MTSU’s capability to deliver both a great education and valuable support for businesses. ISLE projects are now carried out across Jones College graduate programs to help students get an immediately relevant as well as conceptual educational experience. “We aim to produce the type of employees that business leaders want,” Nagel summed up.

BECOME A PARTNER Jones College of Business seeks additional partners for our Industry Supported Learning Experience program. Join us and work with graduate students skilled in marketing, business analytics, management practices, and more. You can benefit as a business or give back as a mentor.

CONTACT: • Barney Zeng, Executive in Residence BarneyZeng@SourceKeySolutions.com • Carolyn Tumbleson, Development Director Carolyn.Tumbleson@mtsu.edu • Kim Sokoya, Associate Dean for Graduate and Executive Education Kim.Sokoya@mtsu.edu

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Allyn Walker, managing partner, Dale Carnegie Tennessee and Georgia


LIFELONG LEARNING SERIES Sneak peek of guest speaker and Dale Carnegie executive Allyn Walker’s latest talk:

CREATIVITY IS SOCIAL The Interpersonal Dynamics of Innovation in the Workplace

Creativity is the precursor to all innovation. How can we encourage and nurture creativity in the workplace? In a survey by Adobe, respondents globally said businesses that invest in creativity are more likely to enjoy the advantages of having satisfied customers, increasing employee productivity, fostering innovation, and being financially successful. Dale Carnegie conducted a global study this year on creativity, including a survey of more than 6,500 employees from 21 countries and territories, to better understand how employees feel about support for creativity in their workplace and how well those organizations are performing in terms of some of the drivers our company identified as crucial through research. In our survey, 82% of respondents said there are creative people on their teams. While scientists are still at the beginning stages of understanding the neuroscience of creativity, the myth of the “creative right brain” has been disproven. It is now generally accepted that the capacity for creativity—at least to some extent—is common to all of us. Humans inherently have a lot of creative intelligence, but creativity is the result of more than just individual traits and skills. It also depends on the situation or environment, and the transformation of creativity into innovation is the result of a process. Many organizations would like to more effectively harness their employees’ creativity.

The Dale Carnegie study revealed that highly creative organizations with a reputation for innovation and success shared 10 traits: 1.

They protect intrinsic motivation.


They help people gain knowledge and expertise.


They encourage people to build networks.


They tend to their employees’ well-being.


They make connections between team tasks and the purpose.


Teams create and maintain psychological safety.


Teams learn and use creative techniques.


The organization’s purpose is clear and compelling.


They encourage and appreciate initiative.

10. They cultivate sustained (deep-level) diversity.

Watch the full talk on the Jones College YouTube channel

KEEP LEARNING FROM THE EXPERTS • Join online or in person for FREE professional development seminars quarterly • MTSU’s Jones College of Business hosts guest speakers for the Greater Nashville community • All events streamed live: @jonescollegemtsu mtsu.edu/live

View past events

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Richard Tarpey, assistant professor


merican consumers are used to getting what they want— on the same day even. But supply chain issues over the past two years have disrupted that expectation.

Instead, Americans have become accustomed to images of large ships filled with billions of dollars of the goods they cherish floating outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach—the busiest ports in the country. Athletic shoe company New Balance even made a commercial about it. Supply chain disruptions, product shortages, and delivery delays have certainly frustrated consumers and dominated news headlines. As a result, the importance of properly educated supply chain professionals has become more evident than ever. MTSU is looking to address current and future challenges in this area through a new bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain


jobs in transportation and material moving in middle Tennessee


Management launched last year. The Jennings A. Jones College of Business received approval in spring 2021 to transform its Supply Chain Management concentration into a standalone major that provides graduates a leg up in a booming profession that touches on areas ranging from purchasing to logistics to data analysis. MTSU also boasts a Supply Chain Management concentration for the Management master’s degree.


midstate 10.3% of employment

6 to 9

unfilled job openings for every 1 graduate

THE CENTER OF IT ALL Supply chain specialists manage manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, inventory management, packaging, and logistics information dealing with everything from common consumer goods such as food, to electricity, natural gas, and heating oil to power homes, to life-saving equipment and supplies. Richard Tarpey, an assistant professor in MTSU’s Supply Chain Management program, makes the case that the industry is an integral part of almost all manufacturing or service-oriented businesses. “In the last couple of years, the profession has elevated above the tasks of customer service, manufacturing goods, and providing goods and services to consumers,” Tarpey said. “Supply chain management has directly played a role in the nation’s ability to combat COVID-19 and contribute to the health and safety of human life through the delivery of vaccines, drugs, personal protection equipment (PPE), and life-saving medical devices, such as ventilators. Supply chains are at the center of environmental sustainability innovations.” Supply chain management professionals also play a critical part in companies by providing forecasts, ensuring raw materials are available, and making certain the right people are in the right place at the right time. Middle Tennessee is a key link in the chain. With 50% of the United States’ population living within 650 miles of Nashville, Music City is a geographic sweet spot, since its location often translates to one- or two-day truck delivery times to more than 75% of all U.S. markets. That in turn places nearby MTSU and graduates of its new Supply Chain Management degree squarely at the heart of global supply and demand.


jobs in supply chain management available in the U.S.


Noting that the region is a logistics hub, faculty point out the local presence of supply chain behemoth Amazon, with multiple locations in the midstate, along with headquarters for Dollar General and Tractor Supply in the area.

HAVING A SUPPLY CHAIN DEGREE AVAILABLE FROM MTSU WILL CERTAINLY HAVE AN IMPACT ON OUR ABILITY TO HIRE PEOPLE THAT ALREADY HAVE ROOTS IN THE MIDDLE TENNESSEE AREA. MTSU’s program leverages its industry contacts to get access to real datasets for students to study and address, at some level, real-world problems. The University currently has six full-time faculty members and one adjunct professor teaching courses within the program, which is seeing increased demand at the graduate-degree level. Shortages due to the pandemic have made supply chain management more visible. “It’s a career field that’s hot right now,” said Cliff Welborn, a Department of Management professor, “. . . and it’s a field people are interested in because they want to be part of the solution of how do I keep materials flowing so we can maintain our standard of living?”

PARTNER WITH INDUSTRY MTSU’s Department of Management first developed a Supply Chain Management concentration after listening to industry feedback for several years. The concentration experienced strong student demand over its initial three-year period—from 14 students to 112 and growing. Approval for a major from the MTSU Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission followed.


estimated growth expected between 2020 and 2030

average supply chain manager salary in Tennessee 2022 | 17


M.B.A. alum Tim Fallon (’11), now vice president of manufacturing for Nissan’s Mississippi plant, is active in MTSU’s Supply Chain Management program.

Letters of support for the transition came from area logistics and distribution heavyweights—Ingram Content Group, Nissan North America, and Kasai North America, to name a few. Other major local employers of supply chain professionals include UPS, Amazon, Under Armour, Dollar General, Tractor Supply, Bridgestone, Geodis, Frito-Lay, and Gap Inc.

IT’S A CAREER FIELD THAT’S HOT RIGHT NOW . . . AND IT’S A FIELD PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED IN BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION OF ‘HOW DO I KEEP MATERIALS FLOWING SO WE CAN MAINTAIN OUR STANDARD OF LIVING?’ “There is a pressing need for qualified personnel that understand the current processes and systems used by industry today,” said Bob Henry, vice president of corporate purchasing with Kasai North America. Rob Thyen, vice president of engineering and facilities for Geodis, and an MTSU Supply Chain Advisory Board member, said he believes having a supply chain degree available will greatly benefit the community, create collaborative research opportunities, and increase career placement within the midstate. 18 | ENTERPRISE

“As an organization that is one of the leading third-party logistics operations in the U.S., and headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, we are always searching for top talent with supply chain backgrounds,” Thyen said. “Having a supply chain degree available from MTSU will certainly have an impact on our ability to hire people that already have roots in the middle Tennessee area.” Area K–12 officials are on board with the program as well. Rutherford Works, the economic and workforce development division of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, has worked with local employers for the past several years to help identify technical skills gaps and then worked with educational partners such as MTSU to develop training for the high-wage, high-demand jobs currently available in the community. As a result, MTSU’s Supply Chain Management faculty have been actively involved with Rutherford County Schools’ supply chain management pathway now available at seven high schools: Blackman, Riverdale, Stewarts Creek, Rockvale, Eagleville, Holloway, and Smyrna. Blackman, Riverdale, and Stewarts Creek are the Nos. 1, 3, and 5 feeder high schools for MTSU.

BRIGHT FUTURES All those prospective students will one day enter a workforce eager to have them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that transportation and material moving accounted for nearly 103,000 jobs in the middle Tennessee area in May 2019, or about 10.3% of local employment. The current demand for supply chain talent in the middle Tennessee region outpaces the supply of new graduates. A recent study by global logistics provider Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn (DHL) indicates that for every supply chain graduate, there are six to nine unfilled job openings. Furthermore, according to the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), as recently as 2020 there were 191,000 jobs in supply chain management available in the U.S. alone, with an estimated growth of 31% expected between 2020 and 2030.

Brittany Morton, senior transportation operations manager with program partner Geodis and an M.B.A. student

Students looking for a degree that will pay dividends immediately clearly would do well to consider the new MTSU degree. According to Salary.com, the average supply chain manager salary in Tennessee is $106,056 as of February, but the range typically falls between $93,178 and $120,854. “People choose to go into supply chain management for several reasons,” Tarpey said. “Probably the most well-communicated reason is there are many current opportunities in this continually growing field that pay well above the average entry-level jobs in middle Tennessee.” He noted that supply chain professionals tend to be individuals who enjoy solving problems and can communicate across the various levels of an organization.

Jonathan Falcon, managing director of program partner Sunset Transportation, at MTSU’s Supply Chain Summit

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“Supply chain management jobs typically include the use of analytical and problem-solving skills to solve complex and critical challenges for companies,” he said. Program faculty added that supply chain management is a common path to becoming a company CEO because of the broad experience involved. The field is upwardly mobile, with flexibility, different roles available, and no real ceiling. “There is a lot of job growth opportunities,” Tarpey said. David Urban, dean of the Jones College of Business, summed up that the new B.B.A. in Supply Chain Management meets the huge demand for skilled supply chain professionals throughout the Greater Nashville region. Industry, involved in MTSU classrooms, is seeking program graduates to solve issues. “Employers and students are praising the Jones College program as a practical response to a real market need,” Urban said. “This program will grow as our region continues to be a go-to area for companies wishing to expand the efficiency and effectiveness of their supply chains.”

THE HUMAN TOUCH The elevation of its Supply Chain Management concentration to a stand-alone major isn’t the only significant recent change in MTSU’s Department of Management. Jones College launched a Human Resource Management concentration in fall 2021 with the confidence that its courses align with guidelines from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an HR professional organization considered the gold standard in the industry. MTSU’s business college is now among more than 500 programs in approximately 425 educational institutions throughout the world that have met the guidelines to become SHRM-aligned. The guidelines were developed by SHRM to define the minimum content areas that should be studied by HR students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. MTSU’s Kristie Abston, an assistant professor of Management who spearheaded the effort, said the SHRM alignment adds stature to the concentration and will be a boost to graduates’ resumes. “We formalized this program based on industry needs, career opportunities for our students, and providing something that’s tangible for their resumes,” Abston said. “Their certifications, the conferences they host . . . everything is world-class with SHRM. It is the premier organization for the HR profession.”


That’s important in a burgeoning industry with median salaries for HR professionals in the midstate ranging from $40,000 to $94,000, and with a jobs growth rate projected from 6% to 26% by 2026 statewide. Jill Austin, department chair and the program’s coordinator, said HR courses in the concentration will also provide students with real-world learning opportunities. “These high-impact experiential learning opportunities, along with the SHRM alignment, will prepare our students to be successful HR professionals,” she said. The alignment also means that eligible MTSU students, with sufficient HR internships and related experience, may take the SHRM Certified Professional exam earlier than students from non-aligned programs. Otherwise SHRM requires up to four years of professional HR experience, depending upon level of college education, before becoming eligible. Within the concentration, students must take a core Human Resource Management course that all Management majors take, plus four additional upper-level courses within the concentration: Talent Acquisition and Management, Training and Development, Compensation Management, and Strategic Innovations in Human Resource Management, which helps students review for the certification exam.

CHANGE MAKERS Did you know that Jones College faculty and staff regularly publish thought leadership pieces in partnership with the Nashville Business Journal? You can find them at bizjournals.com/nashville/news/partners/change-makers.



Karynne Turner, Professor of Management

Kristen K. Shanine, Professor of Management

When employees are left to self-rule, managers can empower workers by incentivizing and providing employee development, or specifying goals.

The pandemic has created a surge in entrepreneurship within the United States, and women are one of the fastest-growing segments.

With minor changes, many states could consolidate elections to increase electoral security, improve voter turnout, and reduce the possibility of extreme candidates.

bizjournals.com/nashville/ news/2021/12/09/why-selfmanaging-teams-should-not-diminish. html

bizjournals.com/nashville/ news/2021/10/22/study-delves-intothe-key-to-success-for-entrepren.html

bizjournals.com/nashville/ news/2021/10/22/fewer-electionscould-improve-election-security.html




Daniel J. Smith, Director of the Political Economy Research Institute

Nour Kattih, Economics Lecturer

With our national debt now edging toward $30 trillion, economists are right to consider the risks of inflation.

Ralph Williams Jr., Deana Raffo, Leigh Anne Clark, Professors of Management, and Randy Clark, Professor of Marketing

Auto-enrollment might be the solution for companies that have a hard time meeting an insurance company’s minimum participation requirement or that just want to expand the company’s coverage. bizjournals.com/nashville/ news/2021/07/21/get-moreemployee-participation-healthinsurance.html

bizjournals.com/nashville/ news/2021/06/07/is-inflation-on-thehorizon.html

FEWER ELECTIONS COULD IMPROVE ELECTION SECURITY Steven Sprick Schuster, Professor of Economics

High leader credibility produces high-quality relationships between leaders and followers, creativity and innovation, employee motivation, and leader believability and lessens employee burnout. bizjournals.com/nashville/ news/2021/04/08/how-to-buildcredibility-as-a-leader.html

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e might not be easily recognizable on the MTSU campus, but Marketing Professor Rajesh Srivastava is a star in the TikTok universe. That wasn’t his initial plan. What began as a way to welcome students to his social media marketing class turned into more than 170,000 followers and nearly 5 million likes on the popular video-snippet platform. Dr. Raj, as he is known by Gen Z around the world, is now making the most of his social media fame in an area where he also conducts research.

“Every business in America will be advertising on TikTok,” he predicts to his students, according to a profile by Sidelines. Dr. Raj also considers storytelling as the top skill students should develop, he told the MTSU student news outlet. With that in mind, Srivastava often offers businesses advice through his research on how to market to Gen Z, his own TikTok target market of ages 15 to 22. He certainly has used his knowledge in the field to create his own brand after exploding in popularity on the app.

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BIG HIT To improve his own social media presence, Srivastav started out creating a couple of videos with the help of his daughter for his social media and marketing management courses. They quickly shot to 350,000 views, prompting him to go all in and post a weekly video for the next eight months. Now, since one of his videos hit 1 million likes last September, Dr. Raj is posting a video daily for 1,000 days. YouTube gamer/influencer Sssniperwolf and a New Zealand influencer are among those who have boosted his popularity on the platform. In only a week’s time, his followers rose from about 8,500 to 25,000. But he’s now having to be more strategic and creative not only with his content, but also with TikTok trends to keep engaging views. Many of his posts relate to student struggles with college life. A recent video, for instance, finds a student asking Dr. Raj to round a 69 up to an A. Another popular post (more than a half million views!) shows his class about to leave just as the professor enters the lecture room to Lady A’s lyric, “It’s a quarter after 1.”

ZOOM INTO GEN Z In a recent business article co-written with Pramod Iyer, an MTSU assistant professor of Marketing, Srivastava discusses marketing to the Gen Z demographic based on their research. With a rising purchasing power of about $143 billion, Gen Z is an attractive advertising audience but also an “often misunderstood target for marketers.” The group is the most educated and ethnically diverse population in the U.S., the professors say. “Today, people in the Gen Z demographic want to be charmed, engrossed, and influenced into buying products and services that can speak to their social or individual self,” Srivastav and Iyer write. Some more expensive brands have thrived with Gen Z over alternatives due to collaborations with influencers on younger social media channels such as TikTok, consisting of 15- to 30-second videos, and Instagram Reels. And Gen Z prefers engaging, real-world people (as opposed to celebrity influencers for Millennials), according to the duo.

MARKETING TO GEN Z Some key points Srivastava and Iyer make: • These younger consumers are “deal-seekers” and aren’t as brand-loyal as predecessors.

• They spend more than 2 hours a day on social media, but their attention span is about 8 seconds.

• Gen Z values diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as durability and sustainability.

• Gen Z avoids ads, skips marketing content, and may have negative attitudes toward excessive advertising.

Looks like Dr. Raj is one of those people-next-door that Gen Z finds funny and worth the follow. A Sidelines report by Mikayla Hart contributed to this article.

JOSHUA AARON Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship

Discover the keys to your business success B.B.A. in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship • Flexible coursework • Learn from successful business founders • Hands-on education


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RESEARCH BRIEFS A look at some results of faculty studies on business topics


Assistant Professor of Finance

“Cash Flow Growth and Stock Returns” Journal of Financial Research Jansen developed and tested a model showing cash flow growth (CFG) is positively associated with stock returns. Furthermore, additional information is reflected through CFG relative to cash flow levels, profits, and dividends. Evidence suggests that operating activities explain more than investment activities of the firm. Investors can earn significant profits by focusing on CFG. $1,000 invested in 1988 across the whole stock market would grow to $9,845 in 2019. However, $1,000 invested in the highest 20% of CFG stocks grows to $42,290, and the portfolio invested in the lowest 20% of CFG stocks only grows to $2,199.


THOMAS LI-PING TANG Professor of Management

“Teaching Entrepreneurship in China: Business Simulation & Games—A New Theoretical Model of Experiential Learning” • Organizational Science: A Global Perspective In conjunction with W. Fan, Tang explores business education pedagogy through business simulation and games (S&G). Using a qualitative approach, they conducted semi-structured interviews using WeChat, made field observations in the classroom, and identified six core themes in teaching business S&G. Their new theoretical model contains the following components: causes of participation, participation and engagement, intrinsic and extrinsic motivational stimulus, psychological process, learning behaviors, and learning outcomes. These components lead to learning outcomes: intellectual human capital; knowledge, skill, and ability (KSA); real-world experience/knowledge transfer; team building/social capital; and the entrepreneurial mindset. Their research offers practical implications for teaching entrepreneurship using business simulation and games, experiential learning, in particular, and organizational science.

WISARUT SUWANPRASERT Assistant Professor of Economics “The International Spillover Effects of US Trade Policy Uncertainty“ Economics Letters Suwanprasert examines the international spillover effects on the exports from 30 of the United States’ major trading partners upon the removal of U.S. trade policy uncertainty, when China joined the WTO in 2001. The empirical analysis discovers that removing U.S. trade policy uncertainty has sizable positive spillover effects on Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, India, and New Zealand. The countries that experience negative spillover effects are Austria, Japan, and Taiwan.


Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Analytics “The Drivers and Effects of Burnout Within an Information Technology Work Context: A Job Demands-Resources Framework” • Information Technology and People Attracting and retaining information technology (IT) professionals is still a challenge. Zaza’s study looked at job demands such as boundary-spanning activities and continuous learning, along with job resources like supervisor support and mentoring as antecedents to burnout. Burnout includes work exhaustion, cynicism, and professional inefficacy. In addition, this study investigates the impact of burnout on IT professionals’ turnover intention (leaving the organization) and turn-away intention (leaving the IT industry). It found that supervisor support is a critical job resource for dealing with burnout, while professional inefficacy is the most impactful on turnover intention.


Professor of Marketing Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index, March 2022 • Office of Consumer Research Outlook among Tennessee consumers has declined considerably since December 2021. This was due to deteriorating views of the current economy, more pessimistic expectations for the future of the economy, and waning beliefs that now is a good time to make large purchases. Worries and frustrations continue as consumers remain concerned about higher inflation and increasing gas prices. Recent declines in the stock market have led to growing worries about the future value of savings and investments. Current events in Ukraine have caused consumers to become more concerned about potential military conflicts with other nations.


Associate Professor of Accounting


Assistant Professor of Accounting

“An Outdated Sterotype? Accounting Compared with Competing Professions” CPA Journal Scarlata and Garven explore the popular accountant stereotype that portrays a person who lacks creativity, sitting alone crunching numbers. Those within the profession know that this portrayal is inaccurate and that the accounting profession encompasses a wide variety of skills, both technical and personal. What does the evolving face of accounting look like today, and how can we spread the right message about our profession? This article discusses the results and implications of a recently published academic study that compared leading career models’ portrayal of accounting to competing professions and provided evidence concerning the required level of skills needed in contemporary accounting work.

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Photo courtesy of Fizzah Raza

Angie Grissom (B.B.A., ’00) Owner, The Rainmaker Companies

Most Powerful Women in Accounting Top 25 Thought Leader from CPA Practice Advisor Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting for 10 consecutive years (2011–21) by Accounting Today Beta Gamma Sigma Business National Achievement Award (2019) MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business Exemplar Award (2018) Nashville Business Journal Women of Influence Award (2017) Top 40 Under 40 CPA Practice Advisor



usiness owner, consultant, writer, and speaker Angie Grissom is a powerhouse. Anyone who has seen her speak will tell you that she absolutely radiates enthusiasm and authenticity.

After graduating from MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business in 2000 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Grissom joined The Rainmaker Companies and began leading the consulting arm. It wasn’t long before she became an owner and partner when the founder retired. She works with CPAs, lawyers, and consultants all over North America to help them build their practices. The Rainmaker Companies offers training, growth consulting, and niche-based and role-based membership communities to professional service firms. The Rainmaker team focuses on growth, leadership, company culture, and communication. Grissom has been entrepreneurial-minded since childhood. When she was in elementary school, Grissom started a pretend business called “Dance with a Star,” where she would cut out pictures of famous people from magazines and then add bodies and sell the chance to Dance with a Star to her aunts and uncles. This was long before the hit television show. She credits this creative spirit with leading her to consult.

top firm leaders and training and coaching professionals at every level of their careers. After putting a graduate degree on hold to focus on your career, you’ve returned to finish MTSU’s M.B.A. program. Why did you feel like that was important? I plan to finish my M.B.A. in 2022. The pandemic put a lot of things on hold—especially my ability to travel. I decided to take that opportunity and reach that goal I have for myself. I love to learn. I want to apply everything I can to what I’m doing in my business for my clients. One of the benefits of pausing and then returning is seeing how the technology is updated, along with what I now bring to the table with my current level of experience. I am blown away by some of the classes in the program. I am having a great time getting to know the teachers and classmates. I forgot how fun it was to meet new classmates and work in groups. These M.B.A. students are incredible— and I work with top business leaders in my job—and I am so impressed with everyone I meet in the program.

Grissom lives in Franklin with her husband, Chad, and their sons, Max, 21, and Brett, 13. The family has a rescue cat named Bella.

I APPRECIATE THOSE PEOPLE AT MTSU AND BEYOND WHO INVESTED IN ME SO THAT I CAN INVEST IN OTHERS. What do you love about what you do? My days all look different, and I am frequently challenged, which was my desire for a career. Sitting 40-plus hours a week at a desk doing the same thing was never appealing to me. Travel is a part of my job that I love. I do keynote presentations and general sessions at conferences all over the U.S. and the world. I have spoken in Barcelona, Warsaw, and Shanghai. I always enjoy global conferences and international audiences. I speak, write, and train a lot. I love to research and write. Since starting at The Rainmaker Companies, I have authored articles for publications such as Accounting Today. I came up with the idea of a column in 2012 called “He Said/She Said,” where a fellow consultant and I debate topics ranging from partner accountability to culture and everything in between. The column is still published in Accounting Today. Before then, I had a column called “Ask Angie.” I’ve had a lot of fun writing projects throughout my career. I count myself lucky to work with some of the brightest and most successful people in the accounting space. My job feels creative and fun, and different every day. I have the privilege of coaching

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Jones College has an emphasis on communication and relationship-building that is so important for success in business. It is the biggest gap I see in professional environments. People need to understand that it’s not just about having the technical knowledge or ability to be a CPA, consultant, or advisor. It’s about having the intention of building trust in that relationship. What are you passionate about? I am passionate about empowering people and teaching others to do the same. I believe in authenticity in leadership. I believe in supporting people through tough times. I believe in cheering people on. I believe that everyone brings something unique and special to the table, and when we give people the encouragement, tools, and autonomy to achieve their goals, they will. I have always been incredibly passionate about this. I am driven to help people become the best they can be. I was fortunate to have some great mentors and incredibly supportive parents who encouraged me. I have had some bad job experiences in the past as well. These experiences shaped me into wanting to help leaders and professionals achieve their goals and overcome barriers. I love to find ways to recognize people and acknowledge what they are working toward, and we discuss this in our programs.



Photo courtesy of Fizzah Raza

The work Rainmaker does has been described as transformational for workplace culture in companies. Have you ever stopped to consider how many lives you’ve changed with your work? You know, not really. I don’t really think about it. It’s sort of one soul at a time, one human at a time with coaching. I recently have had people reach out to me—either former clients or consultants—who have sent me gifts and reached out to me and said things like, “You changed my career and I’ll never forget it.” Or they call after they’ve retired and say, “I want to work with you.” And I’ve hired them. I have several consultants who are past clients, which is cool, because it means, you know, that they were somehow influenced by what we Rainmaker did, not necessarily me personally, but what we Rainmaker did, and they want to be part of that, which is nice.

I AM DRIVEN TO HELP PEOPLE BECOME THE BEST THEY CAN BE. What’s your personal philosophy? Don’t sweat the small stuff. I went through a period of tremendous upheavals and losses. Right after college, I had just had a new baby, was starting out in a new career, when in a short period I lost my father to cancer and one of my best friends to the war in Iraq. When you are juggling big stuff like that, you don’t get lost in the weeds. In order to get through it, you just have to be very laser-focused on what you need to do to be successful. In the midst of all of that chaos, there is perspective on what is truly important. People ask if it gets easier as you become more experienced or a business owner, and I tell them it does not. Some things come more quickly, but successful business owners never stop working hard; they never stop innovating, and the truth is, they work even more. If you love the work you are doing, you can’t complain. What are you proudest of? Some of the work I am the proudest of includes developing a women’s initiative training for a national firm, developing content around leadership, and forming a group of managing partners called CEO Grow over the past several years. These leaders from across the U.S. get together in Nashville twice a year to learn and support one another. It is fascinating to see how strong these leaders are and how willing they are to help others. I continue to be blown away by leaders in the accounting space.

Did you have any mentors that shaped the way you think about business? I met Blaine Lee, one of the founders of Franklin Covey, early in my career at a conference where he was speaking. He was a super smart guy, mentor to Oprah, and he had just written a book called The Power Principle. He told me, “I see something in you. And I’m going to tell you what you need to do. I see you as an influencer of women, of people.” And I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m 24 years old. I don’t think that’s right.” But he was spot on. He drew this graphic. He said, “This is your triangle of what you need to do. Read everything you can get your hands on. Gain experience, so you have a platform. Bring relevancy, so people listen to you.” This experience impacted me, and Blaine became a mentor until he passed away. He is part of the reason I am passionate about helping others realize their passions and potential. Any advice for aspiring professionals? I would tell up-and-coming professionals, students, current and future leaders to understand that sometimes life feels overwhelming with responsibilities—classes, career, family— and sometimes we lose our motivation or spark. My hope is that we pause and reflect on why we are doing the things we are doing to become reenergized. I hope that we all jump out of bed in the morning with the same optimism and energy we had when we were 5. I plan to write books and programs around these topics in the future. I appreciate those people at MTSU and beyond who invested in me so that I can invest in others. It brings to mind the adage from Benjamin Zulu Ke, “To inspire people, don’t show them your superpower; show them theirs.”

What are some of the reads you recommend? One of my favorite books ever is Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Jim Collins’ book Good to Great has a lot of applicable content and really resonated with me. I am currently reading Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear and Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath.

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Off the



Chase Miller (r) learned lessons for business from his backup role. Photo by Nathan Wallach

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hase Miller was the ultimate bench player during his days at MTSU.

A non-scholarship student-athlete who gritted out hours of practices but rarely saw action, Miller became a Murphy Center fan favorite on an MTSU basketball team that upset second-seeded Michigan State and Minnesota in back-toback NCAA tournaments in 2016 and ’17. All the while, he was juggling studies in MTSU’s unique undergraduate Real Estate program, a concentration under the B.B.A. in Finance. Now Miller is turning the hard lessons he learned on the hardwood and in the classroom into a starring role in the commercial real estate market in his native Dallas.

A 2019 graduate, Miller has been named to D CEO business magazine’s Power Brokers list of top revenue-producers in Dallas twice since joining NAI Robert Lynn. He also was promoted to vice president last year, became the company’s youngest executive vice president ever this year, and had the highest production volume for any broker’s first two years in the firm’s 60-year history.

CONNECTING ON AND OFF COURT Having grown up with a father in the real estate business, Miller said he got lucky when then-Blue Raiders head coach Kermit Davis and assistant Ronnie Hamilton showed him around campus on a recruiting visit and he learned about MTSU’s program.

“As a walk-on, nothing was ever given,” Miller said of his status as a preferred walk-on— guaranteed a spot but not receiving an athletic scholarship. “You had to earn everything. You had to work the hardest.

“I had no idea . . . but it was one of the few schools, not only in Tennessee but maybe even in the country, that had a Real Estate major,” he said.

“And by no means was I ever the most talented and by no means am I the most talented in real estate, but you’re going to be hard pressed to outwork me, and I think being a walk-on instilled that.”

Miller was taking an extra year before college to work on his basketball skills at a Florida prep school, ELEV8. His dream was to play Division I basketball, but after high school, he’d only had offers from Division II and III colleges and walk-on opportunities at smaller DI schools in Texas. At the prep school, he grew up quickly, living with several roommates in close quarters that he calls “not glamorous.” About half of his 50 talented teammates ended up playing at DI programs such as St. John’s, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Rhode Island. Miller decided attending MTSU was the perfect path for him.

Chase Miller (B.B.A., ’19) Executive vice president and broker, NAI Robert Lynn

“I always wanted to be in the South, and I always envisioned myself at an SEC type of school,” he said. “And to me, Middle is an SEC school without some of the bells and whistles. It all just . . . kind of aligned. The basketball opportunity made sense, the business school being in the top 1½ percent in the world made sense, and geographically it made a lot of sense.”

I ALWAYS TRY TO BE IN THE OFFICE BEFORE 5:30 OR 6—ALWAYS THE FIRST ONE IN, LAST ONE OUT. Davis, a former walk-on himself and now at Ole Miss, sat Miller down and leveled with him. “Being a walk-on, it’s not necessarily about you. It’s not about even your college experience,” Miller recalls the conversation. “I think a lot of it is how it pays off for you. “I remember thinking, ‘Okay, whatever,’ but it’s crazy now looking back on it, I mean all of it—being selfless, being a hard worker, trying to set an example.” Miller was undeterred: “My goal was to play Division I basketball however I was going to do it. And my path forward to that was walking on. I had a few opportunities, and faraway Middle kind of blew me away.”

Miller’s first 3-pointer fired up fans.

MAKING NET PROFITS Off the court, Miller took advantage of opportunities through the Real Estate program, led by Philip Seagraves and featuring its own student-staffed Raider Realty firm. Miller worked one semester with Richard Lewis at Exit Realty Bob Lamb and Associates in Murfreesboro, interned at OakPoint real estate investment firm in Nashville, and was active in the Blue Raider Real Estate Club. “More than anything, it was the connections and how networking always leads to more networking,” Miller said. In Dallas, Miller focuses on two of the more popular areas in the nation’s second-hottest real estate market.

At MTSU, especially when the Blue Raiders were winning big, the student section would chant “Miller Time” as the clock wound down, urging the coach to put Miller into the game. No. 14 played only 51 minutes and scored nine points in his career, hitting 3-pointers against Rice and in a National Invitation Tournament win over Vermont as a junior and opening with another trey as a Senior Night starter versus the University of Texas–El Paso.


“The Design District, if you looked at an aerial, is probably the next place to go vertical for developments. I’ve been fortunate to sell two parcels that are going to be developed into office buildings. . . .

He’ll also always remember cutting down the nets after clinching a conference championship against Western Kentucky University on national TV—and, of course, the bracket-busting NCAA shocker against Michigan State.

“Brookhollow would be the closest industrial park to downtown Dallas, so a super infill location. Obviously, with the increased demand for warehousing space—I think not only in Dallas but, you know, the whole nation—we’ve kind of been fortunate to be riding a high tide.”

“There’s actually a guy in our office that went to Michigan State, and there’s not a day goes by that that is not brought up in some capacity,” Miller said with a laugh. “It’s funny, even six years later, how much it’s always brought up. If I’m ever wearing gear around town or wearing a Middle Tennessee shirt, people always bring it up. It’s always a fun story like, ‘Yeah, I was on that team.’ ”

Out of college, one of Miller’s better job offers was from Colliers Nashville, and like many others, he could see three years ago that the Music City market “was going to blow up.” He also interviewed with former Vanderbilt basketball player Jason Holwerda, partner and market leader for Foundry Commercial in Nashville. “One thing he said that stuck with me: You can take your everyday life being a student-athlete and you can translate that into the work world. Good things will happen. So I tried doing that. I always try to be in the office before 5:30 or 6—always the first one in, last one out.”

He embraced his energetic role on the team, and now it’s paying big dividends. “Being a walk-on, nothing is ever given to you. You have to earn every single bit of it, and that’s the same with real estate being commissioned-based.” Lessons he learned well on and off the court at MTSU.

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ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND ANALYTICS Sam Zaza is passionate about serving and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Her research interests all reflect her role as an advocate. Whether she is exploring issues of social responsibility through innovation and sustainability, finding ways to encourage firstgeneration students and underserved populations to explore careers in STEM, studying gender inequality in STEM, or working toward DEI in the Global South and developing countries, it is clear Zaza has found her calling in helping others through her work. “My belief in DEI drives me to serve regionally and globally,” she said.

WHILE I KNOW I CAN POSITIVELY IMPACT MY STUDENTS’ LIVES . . . THEY IMPACT MY LIFE, TOO. Zaza is a reviewer for half a dozen information systems journals and conferences, along with serving as president of the Social Inclusion special interest group of the Association for Information Systems (AIS). She works with her team to organize professional development symposiums with the goal of engaging with information systems scholars, educators, and practitioners about social inclusion practices related to research, teaching, and service. “We deliver talks about various topics such as designing and conducting diversity-focused and socially inclusive research, cultivating an inclusive classroom, and designing inclusive curriculum,” she said. “We seek to empower academics and industry partners with actionable steps to enhance their diversity and inclusion practices.”


In recent years, Zaza has been internationally recognized for her efforts. Along with international grants and MTSU faculty recognition, she received the Leadership Award from the Middle East and North Africa AIS chapter and the Best Service Award from the Middle East and North Africa Conference on Information Systems in 2021. Zaza believes one of MTSU’s greatest strengths is the diversity of the student body, with a substantial population being first generation and nontraditional. She wants to bring an even greater diversity of thought and experience to her students through virtual exchange and study abroad programs. She is an advocate for disenfranchised groups and seeks to provide support and guidance for this population to accommodate their personal situations. “I have a passion for teaching and advising on career choices and opportunities. Teaching is a journey of continuous improvement. While I know I can positively impact my students’ lives and careers, in every semester, they impact my life, too,” Zaza said. “When I reflect about my journey as a teacher since I joined MTSU in 2018, I realize how much I grew as a person. Being around our students made me more culture-sensitive and gender-bias cognizant. All of this is reflected on how I develop my course examples and syllabi to be more inclusive and more welcoming to a diverse spectrum of students. . . . I am always thankful to my students for making me who I am.” Zaza and her family—husband Mazhar and children Sarah, 12, and Noah, 11—enjoy baseball, soccer, hiking, and traveling to experience other cultures, music, and food.

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RALPH WILLIAMS JR. (’78, ’02) ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT An elementary school visit to a Nashville printing facility fascinated Ralph Williams Jr. He then fell in love with printing after joining a high school vocational class because his new wrestling coach taught it.

“For instance, I focused on our customers, our internal operations, and our sales so much that I didn’t have a very good 30,000-foot view of our competition or the general environment,” he said.

Williams wound up a state runner-up in wrestling as well as with the cross-country team for that coach. He also fell in love with his wife of 45 years, Lesa, in high school.


After leading three commercial printing companies, with major ownership in two, Williams turned that career into another one, developing a love of teaching, particularly about small business management. Returning to MTSU for an M.B.A., he later became an adjunct professor and fulltime lecturer, then completed a Ph.D. in 2015 through intensive weekend classes at Kennesaw State University.

Likewise, he draws on experience for his Entrepreneurial Financial Management course.

Williams considered joining another university but prefers the culture at MTSU. “I have students that are working 50 hours a week and taking 15 hours,” he said. “I have a student now who’s taking 20 hours, works three days a week at a finance company and that’s going to be her position when she graduates in June, is working on the weekend some at a nursing home, and has three children. “The work ethic is so strong among our students.” With expertise running companies with 60–120 employees, Williams can share real-world examples, such as showing his Strategic Management class how “Dr. Ralph didn’t do this well” to obtain better business outcomes.

“We had two businesses grow at a pace of 25% a year, and we were profitable, and you would think that would create cash, but it absorbed cash,” he said. “And I was able to say to the class, ‘If you don’t see those numbers, it’ll sneak up on you.’ ” Williams relishes his role in research, too, publishing 19 peer-reviewed studies the past three years alone. A project with MTSU colleagues looks at leader credibility, drawing on about 280 academic articles to define a concept that “is scattered all over the place.” He’s also turned contacts in the printing world into practical assistance. Williams’ studies have resulted in industry reports on such topics as effective ways to deal with supply chain issues and the workforce shortage, as well as divisions of today’s diversified printing industry into strategic groups with benchmarks. He exudes a passion for small business. Williams recalls hiring a temporary worker who lacked focus but became a press helper and now earns $50,000 as a press operator. “I had the experience of running a small business and the joy of running a small business,” he said. “You make a contribution to life in that.”

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DEPARTMENT OF MARKETING EXECUTIVE AIDE It’s easy to see that Emily Madison has a servant’s heart. An executive aide for MTSU’s Department of Marketing since 2019, Madison often displays a desire to help others in both her personal and professional life. She’s a former teacher who spent two years in Southeast Asia as a missionary and later adopted newborn twins when she and her husband already had a preschooler.


Even something she’s now doing for herself—working on an M.Ed. in Higher Education—ultimately should benefit her family. She fits graduate studies around a jam-packed schedule of working full time, serving in church activities, helping a husband on disability with a neuromuscular disease, and caring for three sons, with one of her “little loves” on the autism spectrum and another with severe ADHD. “Some people, when I told them I was going to start a graduate program, they were like, “Are you crazy?’ Somebody specifically asked me, “Are you a glutton for punishment?’ ” said Madison, mom to middleschooler Luke and 7-year-old Caleb and Joshua. “But it’s good for me, even though it is work. It helps me to feel like I’m accomplishing something. . . . And I am the breadwinner in the family, so down the road hopefully I then can help our family more, too. I think it’s more of a benefit than a difficulty.”


Such willingness to do whatever it takes is part of Madison’s DNA and translates to her role assisting faculty and working with graduate students. Robert “Barry” Blair, interim chair for Marketing, says that he’s never heard a negative comment from faculty about Madison and that “she does everything well.” “I do not recall her ever saying ‘I don’t know’ and letting the conversation end there,” Blair said. “She may say ‘I don’t know,’ but that is always followed by ‘but I will find out.’ “This makes her a rare jewel in today’s workforce.” Madison has longtime ties to MTSU, where she sought opportunities after moving back from Mississippi. Her father worked as an engineer for WMOT-FM radio, the family has held football season tickets for decades, and she graduated in 2000 debt-free due to an MTSU Presidential Scholarship. She didn’t realize higher education was a career option while in college. But she thinks her journey— from teaching to working with college students in overseas mission work and at The Very Idea promotional products company—all led to finding her calling. “I enjoy doing what I’m doing behind the scenes to help faculty, whether it be in the classroom, with their research, or something with a student organization, just helping them to then help the students.” Spoken like a true servant.

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Dedication is a key word to describe Amie Donahue’s work at MTSU. The undergraduate academic advisor has worked in Jones College for over a decade. She notes the growth she’s witnessed in that time. “The biggest change I’ve seen was the increased focused on the importance of advising at the University,” Donahue said. “When I started, there were three professional advisors for over 3,000 undergraduate students, and faculty were the primary advisors. We helped students as they scheduled appointments, and the process was prescriptive,” she added. “Eventually, the University hired more advisors, and we became primary advisors. This gave us the opportunity to be thoughtful in our approach to advising.” Donahue displays incredible initiative and is always looking for new ways to connect with students. She keeps up with current trends and technology by looking at social media for business schools, reading advising articles, and sharing her observations with colleagues to provide Jones College students experiences they would get at any of the other top business programs.

I SEE SO MUCH POTENTIAL IN OUR STUDENTS AND OUR COLLEGE. “I always think things can be improved upon or done in new ways. I see so much potential in our students and our college,” Donahue said. “I get excited about the possibilities of it all. Sometimes all it takes is seeing a fun event on a social media account and thinking that we can do this too.”

She manages Business Advising’s social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram— the last with over 1,000 followers. “We have so many impressive people in Jones College, so my priority is to highlight them. This includes students, faculty, advisors, administrators, and student organizations,” Donahue said. “Our favorite time of year for social media content is graduation. Who doesn’t want to share what they’ve worked so hard to achieve? We also promote all the professional development opportunities we afford. “We develop a plan to promote course registration each semester and tackle any issues we see come up in our advising appointments. Connecting with students used to be as easy as sending an email, and now there are so many options. Social media is an important part of this.” Originally, her career plan was to counsel high school students. During her undergraduate education, she really enjoyed working with students already in college and shifted her master’s focus. Donahue sees advising as a team effort, including dialogues with department chairs and faculty. She credits her ability to relate to students as individuals to her background in counseling. “I connect with my students by identifying something that is important to them and expanding on that. I use this to develop rapport from meeting to meeting,” Donahue said. “Each student is different and may need various kinds of help at different times. What works for one student may not work for another. I adjust my approach as the situation dictates.”

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JAVIER HERNANDEZ BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION MAJOR Javier Hernandez is using undergraduate research to mix Business Administration with pleasure and to give back to an MTSU community he loves. The junior from La Vergne has been making amateur videos for years, so when he enrolled at MTSU, he toyed with the idea of minoring in Video and Film Production. But as a firstgeneration college student who needed to take the straightest path to career success, he decided it wouldn’t be wise to take on the extra semester of coursework. Instead, Hernandez has been feeding his creative appetite—and improving his skills—with the help of an Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity (URECA) grant. In spring 2021, he used the funds to make a video promoting MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, one of the nation’s largest centers serving military-connected students. Hernandez is part of the military community, having found his own place there through MTSU’s Army ROTC program. “After the first semester, I loved it so much that I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do,” he said. Between a B.B.A. degree and the Military Science minor he’ll earn through ROTC, Hernandez has his post-college future mapped out. He’s on track to graduate in May 2023 as a commissioned officer and plans to put in a few years of active-duty service with the U.S. Army before moving to the civilian workforce. Judging from his ROTC training, he said, being a military officer is good preparation for a career in business. “I think you could say it’s like being a manager,” he said. “You’re just managing to make sure that everyone else in your organization, your small unit, is doing everything right.”


During this spring semester, Hernandez landed a marketing internship for McKnight Advisory Group, a financial services firm. He also met the governor and provided video coverage when MTSU’s Student Organization for the Advancement of Research (SOAR) shared undergraduate research with the legislature at the state Capitol in February.

IN A MILITARY ENVIRONMENT, REGARDLESS OF YOUR POSITION, YOU TRY TO GIVE IT YOUR BEST. Although he doesn’t own much professional equipment, Hernandez loves making videos so much that one of his favorite pastimes is “watching videos on how to create better videos.” Another favorite pastime is watching movies, specifically superhero films. While he enjoys the action and adventure, it’s the overarching themes that really capture his imagination. “Yeah, it’s entertainment, but in the background there’s always a purpose,” he said. “Something like Captain America—having loyalty, those high ethics and values.” In his Daniels Center project, Hernandez wanted his work to convey a message about duty and camaraderie, the qualities that drew him to ROTC. “It’s the environment, the culture—it’s just the values,” he said. “It’s like a big brotherhood. . . . In a military environment, regardless of your position, you try to give it your best.”

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When you make a leadership gift of $1,000 or more, you automatically join the Dean’s Leadership Society ranks. Members enjoy the privileges of being recognized as a member of the University’s Walnut Grove Society, along with an invitation to exclusive events hosted by the dean. Learn more at mtsu.edu/ supportjonescollege.

Whether you are looking to give back or pay it forward, we invite you to reach out to discuss your legacy at Jones College! Carolyn Tumbleson, Development Director Jones College of Business

We hope you enjoy this edition of Enterprise and are excited as we are about the many accomplishments of our students, staff, faculty, and alumni. You can support our mission of excellence by contributing to scholarships, centers, programs, the student emergency fund, faculty initiatives, or making a provision in your will. Your gifts enable Jones College to: • Provide students in financial need with micro-grants and scholarships • Enhance learning environments through continuous improvements • Offer additional funding for student research and competitions • Support student organizations and professional development opportunities • Sponsor study abroad initiatives

Visit mtsu.edu/supportbusiness to contribute to any of the programs you’ve read about in this issue. Jones College of Business Dean’s Scholarship Fund Jones College Student Emergency Fund

Middle Tennessee State University MTSU Box 101 Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Graduate Business Studies Fund (pages 6–11)

615-585-6632 carolyn.tumbleson@mtsu.edu Business and Aerospace N221c

Marketing Enrichment Fund (pages 22–24)

Dean’s Strategic Vision Fund (pages 12–13) Supply Chain Management Enrichment Fund (pages 14–20) MTSU Real Estate Enrichment Fund (pages 34–37) Information Systems and Analytics Fund (pages 38–39) College of Business Advising Center (pages 44–45)


JCB Dean’s Scholarship (pages 46–47)

BUSINESS MATTERS MTSU’s Economics graduate program, which includes both master’s and doctoral degrees, is now ranked as one of the Best Economics Schools nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

Jones College’s new Human Resource Management concentration earns alignment with the Society for Human Resource Management (see page 29).

Joshua R. Aaron, Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship

RECOGNITION AND HIGH REGARDS The Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program has been recognized by the Small Business Institute as the 2022 Showcase Award winner, ranking MTSU as the top entrepreneurship program of the year nationally.





CENTERING ON SELLING The MTSU Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Center for Professional Selling, an innovative sales laboratory where students can hone their selling skills in efforts to become ready-to-hire graduates. Thom Coats serves as director. The new center creates opportunities and resources for the business community in middle Tennessee, enabling growth and positioning salespeople for success in their careers. Additionally, the center allows MTSU to join the University Sales Center Alliance to elevate visibility across the nation of the Professional Selling concentration within the B.B.A. in Marketing program.

LIKE A BOSS The Jones College of Business successfully hosted the inaugural Business Organizations and Student Services (B.O.S.S.) Fair last October. The event offered an opportunity for business majors to learn more about available minors and student organizations and for undeclared students to learn about business programs and concentrations. 2022 | 49

FREE HELP FOR M.B.A. Jones College has partnered with Coursera, a selfpaced online course provider, to offer incoming M.B.A. students the opportunity to complete program prerequisites at no cost to the student. Additionally, select graduate students may use Coursera to achieve professional certifications in sales development, social media marketing, or project management.

caption? Sam Zaza

TECH DIVERSITY INITIATIVE Jones College sponsored the Nashville Technology Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative of the Year award. The winner, Culturally Tech, aims to dramatically increase the number of underrepresented groups pursuing careers in the tech industry by creating culturally relevant opportunities for high school students that expose and prepare them with industry-aligned skills. Information Systems and Analytics faculty members Sam Zaza and Michael Erskine were nominated for Diversity and Inclusion Advocate of the Year and Community Leader of the Year, respectively.




Over a dozen Jones College of Business faculty and staff participated in MTSU Safe Zone Training. In conjunction with the prior attendees, every Jones College department now offers safe spaces for students in need. Each participant pledges to create an inclusive and equitable atmosphere where all students’ identities are valued and respected.

Stuart Fowler

RESEARCH ADVANCEMENT MTSU joined an elite group of universities across the country with its advancement to Doctoral University: High Research Activity, or R2, status as designated by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Only 3% of universities hold this Carnegie classification.


Maria Edlin King

Charlie Baum

ECONOMIC EDUCATION Gov. Bill Lee signed a proclamation earlier this year that recognizes October as Economic Education Month in Tennessee. The designation was petitioned for by the Tennessee Council on Economic and Free Enterprise Education (Maria Edlin King, director) housed in MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business, the MTSU Department of Economics and Finance (Stuart Fowler, chair), and state Rep. Charlie Baum, an Economics professor at MTSU.

ABET ACCREDITATION The Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) has approved initial accreditation for the B.B.A. in Information Systems. ABET has been in existence for over 80 years and accredits college and university programs in the disciplines of applied and natural science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. ABET standards have become the basis of quality for STEM disciplines all over the world. With ABET accreditation, students, employers, and society can be confident that a program meets the quality standards that produce graduates prepared to enter a global workforce.

Curtis Sawyer

Retired Col. Nathan Swartz of Amazon

SUPPLY CHAIN SUMMIT MTSU’s Supply Chain Management Student Organization, in conjunction with the Department of Management and the Jones College of Business, hosted the inaugural MTSU Supply Chain Summit on March 22. Twentyfive industry partner representatives from 15 local and midstate companies participated, with over 100 students attending. Keynote speaker was MTSU alumnus Nathan Swartz (‘96), a retired U.S. Army colonel and logistics officer, former chief of staff for the White House COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force, and currently a senior manager at Amazon. Curtis Sawyer, a lecturer in Management, also recently established the first Supply Chain endowed scholarship.

STUDENT SUCCESS Troy Jones, pictured above, co-founder and chief executive officer of the sports technology gaming company StatusPRO, delivered the Financial Literacy Week keynote address “Crafting Your Success!” Other events included speaker and StoneCentury Financial owner Brock Fortner, a Careers in Financial Planning panel discussion, and the “Game of Life” financial budgeting simulation. Jones College classes also hosted 22 expert speakers as a part of Tom and Martha Boyd Ethical Leadership Week. The keynote speaker was Tim Spence, president, Fifth Third Bank.

GOLD STANDARD The Dean’s Advisory Council welcomes new member Ashley Gold, an attorney with Wood Stabell Law Group. Gold is a lawyer, insurance agent, lobbyist, and former CEO and general counsel.

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The MTSU Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Murat Arik as Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning. The chair’s mission is to produce and disseminate information relevant to the planning needs and issues in the midstate region. It encourages dialogue on these important issues among area policymakers, opinion leaders, and the broader community of interest.


Tim Graeff, a professor of Marketing, was selected as the 2021 recipient of MTSU’s Career Achievement Award. Created in 2000, the award recognizes one faculty member each year who has exhibited profound, sustained, and high-quality contributions in a variety of areas: teaching, educational innovation, research/creative activity, and service to the University and the profession.


Rebecca Foote (‘06), master instructor coordinator in the Department of Accounting, was honored by the MTSU Alumni Association with the 2021–22 True Blue Citation of Distinction for Achievement in Education (MTSU faculty) award. Foote received her master’s in Accounting/Information Systems from the University. A faculty member since spring 2006, she finds it humbling to have been cited 19 separate semesters as an instructor “who makes a real difference” in students’ lives by MTSU’s Office of Student Affairs, based on student input at graduation.


Keith Gamble received MTSU’s 2021 Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award. The award is presented annually to faculty members who demonstrate excellence in the development of technology-based teaching materials as well as the successful integration of instructional technology into the classroom.

2021 ANNUAL AWARDS State Farm Outstanding Professor Award: Michael Erskine, assistant professor, Information Systems and Analytics Bridgestone Americas Distinguished Lecturer Award: Pramod Iyer, assistant professor, Marketing Bill and Kathy Jones Outstanding Professor Award: Dan Smith, director of PERI, professor, Economics Outstanding Dale Carnegie Trainer Award: Sean Salter, assistant dean

E.W. “Wink” Midgett Awards Distinguished Teaching: Laura Buckner, instructor and coordinator of internship program, Marketing Distinguished Research: Tom Tang, professor, Management Distinguished Service: John Wermert, associate professor, Accounting Award of Excellence: Tammy Waymire, professor, Accounting Outstanding Staff Member: Teena Young (formerly Dean’s Office)



Andy Bailey

Bobby Joslin

Andy Bailey, CEO of PetraCoach, and Bobby Joslin, CEO of Joslin and Sons Signs, were both recognized among the Nashville Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs.

President Joe Biden appointed Arlisa Armstrong (‘89) as Tennessee state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program. Armstrong has served in a variety of USDA Rural Development roles in Tennessee, including as area director for west Tennessee from 2010 to 2021. In this position, she was a key member of the state director’s staff and fully participated in the planning, development, and implementation of rural development and rural assistance programs.

INFO SECURITY SCHOLARSHIP Greg Schaffer (’10) and his wife have established the Greg and Vicki Schaffer vCISO Services Scholarship, awarded to Information Systems students interested in pursuing a career in information security. Schaffer, principal of vCISO Services, entrepreneur, and author, works with several top-notch security professionals helping small and midsize companies gain access to the same skill set that large corporations have. He graduated with an M.S. in Information Systems from MTSU while employed as the University’s assistant vice president for network and information technology security. He recalls his time in the program as a remarkable experience.

Carolyn Tumbleson, Jones College development director, with donor Greg Schaffer and Tim Greer (r), chair of Information Systems and Analytics

“Every instructor was approachable and knowledgeable,” Schaffer said. He recognized the growing opportunities in information security and credits his master’s degree for helping him achieve his career goals. Schaffer is passionate about information security and says it’s “a very useful degree in today’s world.” After feeling led to start his own business, he was moved to give back to his local community. Schaffer realized that there were comparatively few scholarships exclusively offered to students in the Department of Information Systems and Analytics and answered the call. The first Greg and Vicki Schaffer vCISO Services Scholarship was awarded in 2018 with an amount of $500. In 2021, the scholarship increased to $1,000, which is awarded annually to a qualified student. Schaffer is enthusiastic about the opportunity to use his prosperity for the benefit of those who need it. “I’m blessed to be a blessing, and I am very honored to do this for MTSU,” he said.

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David Feldhaus (’08, ’09, ’19) was named CFO of Ascend Federal Credit Union. Before joining Ascend, he was senior assurance associate at KraftCPAs in Nashville and senior accountant at Edmondson Betzler & Dame in Brentwood.

Jim Arnette (‘82), director of local government audit for the Tennessee comptroller, received the Robert W. King Memorial Award. This is the highest honor bestowed by the Association of Government Accountants.

Eddie James Alford Jr. (’01) is Pinnacle’s first diversity and inclusion officer. Alford joined Pinnacle in 2005 and took on this role in 2020. He serves as a thought leader who centers diversity, equity, and inclusion as a part of the firm’s work internally, with clients, and in the community. Matthew W. Crews (’91) was an MTSU record-setting kicker. Now, Crews is the founder, CEO, and driving force behind the IndyCar Grand Prix that returns to Nashville in August after last year’s inaugural race.

Quality Exteriors, owned by brothers Jordan Howell (’05) and Justin Howell (’03), was the 2020 recipient of the GAF Triple Excellence Award for middle Tennessee. Voted Murfreesboro’s Favorite Roofer for the past 11 years in a row as well as Favorite Employer for eight consecutive years, Quality Exteriors appreciates consistently being recognized as the area’s preferred local, family-owned roofing contractor.


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1301 E. Main St., MTSU Box 101 Murfreesboro, TN 37132

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