PART 3: Terry Turner passionate about Knoxville, shares thoughts for aspiring leaders

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final article in a three-part series spotlighting Terry Turner, President of All Occasions Party Rentals in Knoxville.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Terry Turner and the All Occasions Party Rentals team are passionate about their hometown.

“Knoxville is a big little town,” the company’s President says. “We’re involved with so many events in this town. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

That involvement extends beyond All Occasions to include an organization Turner and a few other business executives launched in 2016. Called the Chairman’s Club, it is a 100-member 501(c)(3) organization focused on changing the lives of underprivileged youth, both locally and across East Tennessee. To do so, the group provides grants to youth sports organizations, youth arts and culture clubs, youth education groups, and youth healthcare associations.

Terry Turner

“It’s become a fellowship,” Turner says of the full members who commit $1,000 annually and the junior members who commit $500. “We give away 100 percent of what we collect. That’s over $300,000 thus far.”

Allocations in 2021 were the first time that the Chairman’s Club crossed the $100,000 threshold and included $25,000 to East Tennessee Freedom School, $22,000 to Girls on the Run, $25,000 to Family Justice, and $10,000 to Isiah 117 House.

As we do with many successful business executives, we asked Turner for the lessons he’s learned over the years.

“There has to be a passion for what you are doing,” he said. “When the passion goes, you have to move on.”

A second lesson learned was captured in a picture on his wall that reads as follows: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Turner’s third admonition was a gem: “There’s a certain amount of humility you have to endure.”

Other advice included: (1) knowing your limitations; (2) striving always to be a better dad, husband, philanthropist and boss; and (3) being a servant leader.

Finally, in the category of “last but not least,” he reminded readers that “You have to take care of the people who take care of you.” In that vein, Turner said that business at All Occasions was down 70 percent during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with so many in-person events cancelled, but the company did not layoff a single employee.

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