Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
March 04, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Weaver impacted many entrepreneurs in this region

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last in a six-part series about Knoxville entrepreneur Sam Weaver.)

We asked a number of the people who had been touched by Sam Weaver in their personal or professional lives to comment on the impact that he has made. Their comments follow.

Mike Carroll, Chief Executive Officer, MK Technologies Corporation.

I appreciate what Sam taught me personally and what he did for my whole family. He may not even know it, but Sam actually had a great impact on my entire family’s history.  When he was purchasing the nuclear operations of The National Lead Company, he recruited my dad to come work for him in Oak Ridge.  Eventually, my dad, my brother and I all worked for his companies at one time or another.  Sam is a great scientist and a great businessman.  His ability to pursue multiple agendas and to focus under pressure is incredible.  He is unflappable and always on task. His scientific, technical and business decision making are always bold and spot on.  He raises the level of everyone that works with him.

Eldon (Bud) Helton. President, E & L Enterprises, Inc.

Sam Weaver was my mentor.  I worked with and for Sam many years.  I’ve always consider Sam as my mentor.  If every young man starting out had an opportunity to work with someone like Sam, he would be successful in whatever field he chose. May God bless him and his family, Carol, Sammie and Danny.

Dick Nixdorf, President and Chief Executive Officer, Industrial Ceramic Solutions, LLC.

The influence that Sam Weaver imparted to my career in developing and commercializing high-technology products was several fold.

  1. Confidence to Pursue New Product Ideas – Working with Sam for 15 years, through three companies, as a manager of engineering, a vice president of R&D and a corporate manager, taught me to fearlessly take on large projects with major corporations. I learned to develop new products that outsiders considered impossible for a small business. Success came from a passion to move a product to market regardless of the barriers and large corporate competitors. Barriers became opportunities to prove one’s intellect, rather that reasons to quit. Sam taught me that you never fail until you quit.
  2. Effective Development Techniques – I learned to develop high-technology products through the Edisonian Technique, rather than the endless planning meetings and the statistical experimental design taught by academia. Sam would try something new every day to improve on yesterday’s results. This provided an effective path to product development. Some of the keys that I learned from Sam were to carefully record each experiment’s procedures, observations and results. Success was recorded and could be duplicated. Failures were analyzed for the exact reasons for the poor result to lead to the next step to resolve the failures. I experienced, through many projects, that the end of failures resulted in a marketable product that could be duplicated with a thorough understanding.
  3. Project and Company Funding – Serving under Sam through three different companies taught me the misery of running out of money and the joys of being adequately funding. That experience, through almost every form of funding, led me to the conclusion that the best means of funding projects and companies was through strategic partnerships with corporations that had a need for your developed product. He taught me the value of making appealing presentations to these strategic partners and the method for writing effective proposals to solicit their funding. I learned that strategic partners expect results. Therefore, samples of the product that they could hold in their hands and financial market projections that would significantly add to their bottom lines were the absolute necessities for obtaining their financial support. These techniques have allowed me to obtain funding from some of the largest corporations in the world in my recent companies.
  4. Conclusions – Sam Weaver is not perfect. I learned from his failures as well as his successes. However, I have experienced some failures since I left Sam. Probably my most important lesson from Sam was that failures are not the end. He taught me to take what you have left, along with your experience and assets and start over on a new venture. My second most important lesson from Sam is the value of good employees. Sacrifice your salary and sell your car; but, never lay off good employees. Young entrepreneurs come to me and ask, “What do I need to do to be successful?” My first thought is to tell them to go and work for Sam Weaver for 15 years.

Harvey Abouelata, President of ARiES Energy, LLC.

  1. I read an article about Dr. Sam Weaver in the newspaper a few years back and before I finished the article, I was determined to meet him. I don’t exactly know what I expected but within minutes, I thought to myself this man is going to change the world. How often do you meet a person that has that kind of impact?
  2. You can learn something from everyone… In the short time I have known Dr. Weaver, I have learned an incredible amount from him. The knowledge he has passed along to me has been life lessons for business. What resonates with me and I have heard it from him over and over is, “We are taking a different approach”. That is the signature of a fearless true entrepreneur.
  3. I have successfully launched multiple products and companies for others over the years but nothing like what Dr. Weaver has done. After working with Dr. Weaver, I realized it was time to launch ARiES Energy with two other long time colleagues. Our focus over the last few years has been energy solutions and knew that is where we needed to be. However, what I learned from Dr. Weaver was more than being in the right market. What I learned from him was there is always a solution to every problem. Sounds simple right? I was almost 50 years old before someone was able to teach me how true this really is, don’t ever give up there is always a solution.
  4. I am obsessed with how businesses and more importantly people become successful. History is brutally redundant. A technology comes to light and a few individuals see the potential while the main population comes up with all the reasons that it will and cannot work. The list of game changing technologies is too long to list but it starts with fire, and recent history has given us Microsoft, Cellular Phones, Internet and now Proton Power’s CHyP system (Cellulose to Hydrogen Power). I am very fortunate to be smack dab in the middle of a technology that I firmly believe will change the way we live.
  5. I love Robert Fulghum’s book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things”. The takeaway is the simple basic knowledge we all inherently have is really what it takes to be a better person. Dr. Weaver is just that. Do what you say you are going to do and always be fair. Such a brilliant man lives by the simplest of concepts. I thank Dr. Weaver for being such a wonderful mentor.

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