By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
The minute you meet H. M. “Hash” Hashemian for the first time, you know there is something very special about the Iranian-born business executive.
It begins with the warm handshake and engaging smile as he greets you wherever you happen to meet . . . his office in West Knoxville or one of the lavish dinner parties Hashemian and Nazzy, his wife of 28 years, are noted for giving. His eyes sparkle as the impeccably-dressed nuclear expert engages you in an in-depth conversation that might cover any topic – from the local or state political scene to the impact the events on September 11, 2001 had on U.S. immigration policies and workforce availability
Regardless of the subject, you get the distinct impression that this business executive who earned three doctorates can engage in a conversation on any subject. Hashemian is clearly a lifelong learner . . . studying people and issues as he has grown Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation (AMS).
The company’s President and Chief Executive Officer is also an inventor, serving as the author or co-author of 11 awarded and nine pending U.S. patents. In addition, Hashemian has written more than 300 papers and reports including 70 that were peer-reviewed. He is also a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society and the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society.
Today, AMS plays a key role in ensuring the safe and cost-effective operation of virtually every U.S. nuclear power plant and many of those in Europe and Asia. Its global position comes from the development and application of industry-leading instrumentation and control testing and analysis equipment and services.
As AMS has developed these technologies, it has been perhaps the most successful company we have ever encountered in the pursuit of federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants. At last count, AMS had won more than 50 with more than half of those since 2010.
So, who is “Hash” Hashemian and how did he choose to grow an international business based in Knoxville?
Over the past several months, we have enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about this local executive who does business very successfully on an international stage in an industry sector that is not without controversy even as it plays a critical role in meeting global energy demands.
Hashemian was born in Iran in 1950. His father was a very successful criminal trial attorney, and the younger Hashemian earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from a local university. It was the early 1970s, a few years before the Iranian Revolution that saw the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty.
Hashemian describes it as a time when “all (Iranians) that could afford to leave (for an education) did so. It was easy to get a visa.”
Pursuing additional education was also a cultural priority.
“In Iran, education was and still is number one,” Hashemian notes.
On July 4, 1974, the young Iranian arrived in Houston, TX and was driven by his brother to Beaumont, TX to enroll at Lamar University. While he planned to pursue his master’s degree, Hashemian decided to leave Lamar after a couple of semesters because he did not like Beaumont. He would later earn a Doctor of Engineering degree from the school.
“I wanted to go somewhere good,” he explained, noting one of his aunts was pursuing her post-doctoral work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory at the time.
“I heard UT was a good place to get a master’s,” Hashemian said, so he headed to Knoxville with the full intention of completing the degree and returning to Iran.
NEXT: How Hashemian’s plans changed.