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Weekend edition March 08, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Knoxville Chamber names winners of 2024 Pinnacle Business Awards

Nine companies have been selected for an award, noticing their impact on the local economy.

The Knoxville Chamber, in conjunction with Pinnacle Financial Partners, announced the winners of the 2024 Pinnacle Business Awards at the award ceremony held at the Pavilion at Hunter Valley Farms on Thursday afternoon.

The businesses were selected based on nine categories:  Small business excellence, mid-sized business excellence, large business excellence, woman-owned business excellence, minority-owned business excellence, the impact award, the innovator award, the young entrepreneur award, and the James A. Haslam, II Leadership Award.

Small Business Excellence – Boldsquare

Boldsquare develops customized strategic plans that enable organizations to drive the change that matters most to them in the realm of marketing and communications. The company has more than doubled its revenue growth in the past four years, added 14 employees, and has been named on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately held companies for the last two years.

“We are so thankful for our clients, we are nothing without our clients,” said Boldsquare’s Managing Partner, Dylan Jones.

Dylan Jones, Boldsquare
Dylan Jones, Boldsquare

Mid-Sized Business Excellence- WorkSpace Interiors

WorkSpace Interiors (WSI) provides businesses, schools, and healthcare companies with full-service commercial furnishing solutions. The company simplifies customer projects by being a single point of contact from planning to implementation and post-occupancy.

“We’ve been fortunate to grow consistently over the last twenty-five years,” said Bob Feathers, WorkSpace Interior’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). “We started with five employees and now employ over 50, and investing in their growth is essential around our success.”

Bob Feathers, WorkSpace Interiors, Pinnacle Awards
Bob Feathers, WorkSpace Interiors

Large Business Excellence – East Tennessee Children’s Hospital

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH) is a comprehensive regional medical center and healthcare system serving the pediatric population of 17 counties in East Tennessee. ETCH’s strategic plan is to transform from a hospital mindset to a regional health system mindset. With more than 2,000 employees, ETCH is reaching the far corners of the region through primary care practices, urgent care locations, telehealth, and more.

“Our commitment is to push the boundaries of not what is but what could be,” said Matt Schaefer, ETCH’s President and CEO.

Matt Schaefer, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Pinnacle Awards
Matt Schaefer, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital

Woman-Owned Business Excellence – Mesa Associates, Inc. (Mesa)

Mesa is a multi-discipline engineering, procurement, and construction management firm specializing in engineering and design services, established in 1988. Mesa has grown to be a full-service provider to TVA including power delivery and power generation engineering services.

“At Mesa, we have many women in leadership positions. We reward hard work and dedication, and we have worked hard to build a family-oriented culture where everyone is respected and appreciated,” said Ranjana Savant, Mesa’s President and CEO.

Jennifer Moore, Marketing Manager, accepts award on behalf of Mesa at Pinnacle Awards.
Jennifer Moore, Marketing Manager, accepts the award on behalf of Mesa.

Minority-Owned Business Excellence – Avèro Advisors

Avèro helps government agencies build smarter communities that empower their citizens and enrich lives. They leverage cutting-edge technology and strategic insights to help local governments streamline operations, enhance public services, and engage more effectively with their communities.

“There are not a lot of companies that do what we do nationally. Our differentiating factor is that we’re not a commodity sales organization. It all comes down to relationships and caring for the person across the table,” said Founder and CEO Abhijit “AV” Verekar.

Abhijit "AV" Verekar, Avèro Advisors, Pinnacle Awards
Abhijit “AV” Verekar, Avèro Advisors

Impact Award – Axle Logistics

Axle Logistics is a third-party logistics company with a focus on facilitating safe, reliable, advanced logistics services to a wide variety of customers throughout the continental U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Axle’s philanthropic budget was nearly one million dollars and is continuing to climb. In addition to funding, Axle contributes their time. Ali Fraley, Vice President of Learning and Development at Axle Logistics, accepted the award on behalf of the company.

Ali Fraley, VP of Learning & Development, accepts award on behalf of at Axle Logistics

Ali Fraley, VP of Learning & Development, accepts award on behalf of at Axle Logistics

Innovator Award- Spyre Sports Group

Spyre creates name, image, and likeness (NIL) opportunities for student-athletes, digital marketing strategies for brands, and memorable experiences for businesses. It is one of the leading NIL agencies in the nation and seeks to make Tennessee the number one NIL destination in the country.

“Our staff has grown by over 300% during this timeframe and our revenues have increased by 500%.

We credit our success with being nimble and willing to challenge ourselves constantly,” said Hunter Baddour, president of Spyre Sports Group.

Hunter Baddour, Spyre Sports Group, Pinnacle Awards
Hunter Baddour, Spyre Sports Group

Young Entrepreneur Award- Ian Dovan, Seeds of Change

Ian Dovan is the Founder of Seeds of Change, which is East Tennessee’s Dream Backyard Company with a mission, partnering with many local nonprofits to provide meaningful work.

This month, Seeds of Change will surpass $10 million in revenue since its inception nine years ago, evolving from a lawn care maintenance service to a full-service design and build firm specializing in pools, hardscaping, and custom outdoor living projects. In addition to expanding its services, they also launched an Entrepreneur Incubator Program for other young entrepreneurs to seed and jumpstart their own businesses.

“We do that by hiring folks coming out of incarceration, and who are in recovery. We provide a safe working environment and a stable community as they realize their dreams,” Dovan said.

Ian Dovan, Seeds of Change, Pinnacle Awards
Ian Dovan, Seeds of Change

James A. Haslam, II Leadership Award- Joe Landsman, UT Medical Center

Joe Landsman has served as the President and CEO of The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) for 25 years. Landsman announced his retirement from UTMC last year, with Dr. Keith Gray named as his successor. His career has far outpaced the standard tenure of a hospital CEO, with most on average leaving after three to five years.

The Leadership Award is given to a long-standing business leader who exhibits strength in character, resolve, a commitment to the community, and exemplary success in the regional business community.

“I have been fortunate to be surrounded by a wonderful group of leaders at the medical center—along with thousands of team members—collectively committed to improving the health of our community,” Landsman said.

Joe Landsman, UT Medical Center, Pinnacle Awards
Joe Landsman, UT Medical Center

You can watch individual videos from all the winners, courtesy of WBIR TV on the Chamber website.

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