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May 09, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Erwin takes circuitous route to call Sweetwater home

Michael Erwin(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a two-part series on local entrepreneur Michael Erwin.)

Michael Erwin took a circuitous journey to get to where he is geographically and professionally, but he appears very pleased with how things are going.

The Sweetwater resident and member of Entrepreneurs of Knoxville grew-up in Southern California, earned his A.A. in Liberal Arts and Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies at California institutions before moving across the country to Charlotte, NC to attend seminary school.

“I wanted to attend a school that had a philosophy program rather than a pastoral focus,” Erwin told us during a recent interview. His long-standing fascination with philosophy is driving his current business career.

A month after moving east, Erwin proposed to his wife, whom he had met in Santa Cruz. They married three months later, and she joined him in Charlotte. Erwin initially taught English in junior high and high schools before going to work for a telecommunications company called PAETEC that was acquired by Windstream in late 2011.

The decision to enter the business world, rather than continue his seminary classes, would have a long-term impact on Erwin, including his latest undertaking from his Sweetwater base.

“Seminary is still on the back burner,” he says of the original goal that moved him across country. How he ended-up in Sweetwater is something that many families with young children face – family support.

Erwin explains that his wife’s family moved to the Monroe County community a decade ago. With the arrival of their daughter, who is now three and one-half years old, family support became important. They arrived in Sweetwater in May 2011.

Erwin continued his affiliation with PAETEC for a few months, working out of the company’s Knoxville office, before branching-out on his own.

“Because I knew telecom, I started consulting . . . brokering services for various providers,” Erwin said. “I had not done sales much, and it turned-out I didn’t like it.”

So, he morphed from “selling to consulting on overall telecommunications strategy and leadership.” As Erwin explained it, “I was a part-time CIO (Chief Information Officer) for my clients.”

Meanwhile, Erwin maintained his decade-long work in researching and understanding culture which he characterized as “how ideas influence and change culture.”

His latest venture combines all of his interests – philosophy, theology and culture – with his experience in the business world. We’ll cover that undertaking in the second article in this series.


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