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Weekend edition July 08, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Position announcements dominate this week’s “News Briefs”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a roundup of business news from throughout the Knoxville region. If you have some business news that you would like to be included in Teknovation Weekend, please email us at

Warner Bros. Discovery downsizing Knoxville operations

Variety reported at 9:15 a.m. Thursday morning that Warner Bros. Discovery will be selling its large West Knoxville office complex and moving its 1,000 local employees into smaller, leased space. The trade publication obtained a memo from Chief Financial Officer Gunnar Wiedenfels to the company’s staff that read in part: “The employee population in Knoxville is much smaller than the current space accommodates and with the addition of hybrid working options, we can reap the benefits of selling a building which we do not fully utilize.”

Fort Defiance Industries secures big contract

Loudon-based Fort Defiance Industries (FDI) has been awarded a $48,000,000 IDIQ ( indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity) “Medical Equipment Electronic CATalogue” (ECAT) contract from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), part of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to facilitate the acquisition of FDI’s military medical portfolio. This award marks the third consecutive ECAT contract for FDI.  According to FDI President Chris Hearp, “This contract provides the U.S. DoD direct access to our entire line of field medical products. We are grateful for their continued trust in us as we provide critical devices and equipment to support combat casualty care.”

Ryan Overton moves “across town” in Oak Ridge

Ryan Overton, Executive Vice President at GEM Technologies Inc., for the past nearly 11 years, is moving from one Oak Ridge company to another. She has been named Executive Vice President at Navarro Research and Engineering Inc., one of the industry’s leading small contractors for environmental, nuclear, technical and professional services and facilities management.

GEM Technologies is a small disadvantaged business with a 26-year performance history providing high-quality environmental, facility and infrastructure management, construction, and technical services to federal government agencies, state and municipal governments, universities, and an assortment of private industry enterprises.

Hash Hashemian honored by his colleagues in the American Nuclear Society

Hash Hashemian, President of Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation (AMS), has received the Presidential Citation of the American Nuclear Society. This award is given each year by the President of the organization to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding effort to benefit the society and the nuclear energy community. The citation was presented to Dr. Hashemian during the 2022 American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting held in Anaheim, CA.

Founded in July 1977, AMS is a spin-off company from research efforts at The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Today, it is a global nuclear engineering firm providing the worldwide nuclear industry with products and services to measure instrumentation and control system performance and to verify compliance with technical specifications and regulatory requirements.

Covenant Health names new Chief Communications Officer/Vice President of Marketing

Covenant Health has announced the appointment of Jeremy Floyd as its Chief Communications Officer and Vice President of Marketing. He began his new role in mid-June, succeeding Debby Saraceni, former Vice President of Marketing and Physician Services, who has moved to a new role coordinating special projects for Covenant Health. In his new role, Floyd will oversee operations for the marketing, public relations and communications, graphic services, and call center departments. As a member of Covenant Health’s senior leadership team, he will lead the health system’s marketing, branding, consumerism and communication strategies, including digital initiatives.

Floyd holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree with a concentration in business transactions from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Law and is licensed to practice law in Tennessee. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Philosophy from Middle Tennessee State University.

UT, Knoxville names new head for Department of Management and Entrepreneurship

Russell Crook, First Horizon Foundation Distinguished Professor and Cheryl Massingale Faculty Research Fellow at the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), is the new head of the college’s Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. He officially began the role on July 1. Crook joined UTK in 2007. He holds a Ph.D. in strategic management from Florida State University and has published more than 40 articles on topics related to strategy and entrepreneurship.

Knoxville Attorney leads Tennessee Bar Association

Tasha Blakney, Co-Founder of the firm Eldridge & Blakney PC, has assumed the role of President of the Tennessee Bar Association. She was sworn-in by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger A. Page during the group’s annual convention in Nashville. Blakney holds two degrees from UT – a B.A. in Communications and French from the Martin campus and her J.D. from the Knoxville campus.

Altar’d State chain opens new design office

Altar’d State, part of the Stand Out For Good Inc. family of brands, has announced the opening of a new design office in Los Angeles and the addition of Leila Heydari as head of design, leading the Los Angeles-based team.

“Altar’d State has been working toward the vision of an in-house design team, and I am delighted to be the leader to bring this team to life,” said Heydari. “It feels good to join Altar’d State and Stand Out for Good, Inc. They are proving that purpose-based retailing can make a difference for guests and for communities in need too.”

Altar’d State is a rapidly growing women’s fashion brand with 128 locations in 39 states. In addition to those stores, Stand Out For Good has 34 Arula boutiques, six Vow’d boutiques, and three Tullabee boutiques in 39 states.

Knoxville Chamber helping summer interns better understand city

“Explore” is a free program offered by the Knoxville Chamber to engage college interns and local college students with all that Knoxville and its surrounding communities have to offer. The program is designed to help interns learn why the Knoxville region is a great place to begin their careers. As we have noted in the past, the growth rate locally in the all-important 25 to 54 year old age group is less than one-half of one percent, so retaining talent is critical to the region’s economic vitality. The next session of “Explore” is from 4 to 5 p.m. July 14 at the Chamber, 17 Market Square. To register, click here.

ORNL Corporate Fellow honored by two organizations

Burak Ozpineci, a Corporate Fellow and Section Head for Vehicle and Mobility Systems Research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is one of six international recipients of the eighth “Nagamori Award” chosen annually by the Nagamori Foundation based in Kyoto, Japan. The honor recognizes outstanding researchers and engineers working in electric motors, motor drives and related fields. Ozpineci was also recently named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for contributions to transportation electrification and wireless charging of electric vehicles.

Pilot Company’s VP of Store Modernization earns national honor

Allison Cornish, Pilot Company‘s Vice President of Store Modernization, has been named by Convenience Store News as a “2022 Top Women in Convenience” in the elite “Women of the Year” category. Since joining Pilot Company in 1999, she has exponentially grown her career and is now leading the company’s largest investment in remodeling its travel centers.

Cornish joins four other “Women of the Year” honored for representing the convenience store industry in the retail, wholesale, and supplier sectors. The award recognizes those who have had an “exceptional impact on the success or direction of their company, as well as a positive impact on the convenience store industry as a whole.”

ECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe signs-off

Yesterday marked the end of Bob Rolfe’s roughly 66-month run as Tennessee’s Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, and he posted this YouTube video message. Stuart McWhorter takes over the reins on Monday as noted in this recent article.

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