The Knoxville Chamber’s Propel mentor/protégé program pairs an established community business leader with a protégé who is relatively new to business.

Firm: A&A Investigation & Consulting Groups, Inc. (first-year protégé)

Owner: Ricky Hill

Email: aa21group@gmail.com

Phone: (865) 771-2311

What is your professional background?

I started my firm with a 27-year background in the military and law enforcement. After serving in special operations in the U.S. Air Force, I went on to retire with 24 years of service with the FBI. I managed and investigated criminal, terrorism, and counterintelligence missions. My last missions were around monitoring international terrorism threats.

What does your firm offer its clients?

A&A Investigation offers investigative and consulting services to individuals and businesses. We provide risk management services in the cyber and security realm. We help firms protect their information mainly from cyber-attacks and we provide security for protecting facilities and personnel. We often help our clients protect themselves not just from the outside, but from insider threats – active shooter situations and workplace violence. We also provide basic services such as background checks and character analysis services.

What makes your firm unique?

Our firm’s focus is to bring to our clients the same skillsets the FBI and other top agencies employ. We want our clients to be knowledgeable about the given threats in their industry and to not be naïve about the importance of protecting their information and personnel. Businesses and organizations are being attacked daily, and our firm’s experience separates us from others as we have a knowledge base that is high-class. One example of our distinctiveness is our reporting back to the client. We don’t just give you the results of the background check, but we report on items that most checks do not include. We simply give much more information than is the norm so our clients can make the right decisions.

Who are your perfect clients?

Our sweet spot for clients are law firms that need investigative information for their clients. We make those in the legal profession smarter and thus able to serve their clients at a higher level. We also serve private citizens who have infidelity concerns, missing person’s cases and civil issues. We also serve the needs of businesses who need assistance in cases of fraud, risk management, cyber and physical security areas.

Firm: Hyperion Networks (second-year protégé)

Owner: Joe Ray

Email: joe@hyperionnetworks.com

Phone: (865) 622-7834

What is your professional background?

My interest in computers began in high school. I was from a small school district that didn’t have a big budget, and I was able to volunteer to help them with their computer networks. I did so well that a computer firm hired me. By age 22 I was the CIO for a $50-million computer firm. I was extremely unprepared for the position, but I learned the valuable lesson that no IT person can do everything by themselves. I looked around the country one day and chose East Tennessee to move to and worked for a few firms to learn the sales side of IT. I worked for Knox County Schools and learned what large network computing was about and then started Hyperion.

What does your firm offer its clients?

We strive to manage all of the technology needs for our business clients. Whether or not we provide the technology, we manage the relationships with other vendors. What we have found is that our business clients would prefer to have one firm manage all of their technology be it phones, printers or servers. With Hyperion, our clients have one single contact who cares about their interests first. We also have become proficient in negotiating technology costs on our clients’ behalf. We manage not only the cost, but also all of the associated problems for our client. Because we understand programming, hardware and networking, we are able to get solutions faster and more efficiently for our clients.

What makes your firm unique?

I would have to say our fast response time. Most of our competitors give clients a response time of two to four hours. Our response time is typically 15 minutes. We are very knowledgeable, and our staff has more industry experience, on average, than our competitors. To ensure that this is always the case, our compensation and bonuses are tied to continued education. This is how we are able to maintain fast response times.

Who are your perfect clients?

Our sweet spot for clients are businesses with 10 to 50 employees whose core business depends on technology every day. We have a growing book of business with independent insurance agents, business law firms and independent health-care and medical firms. We are also penetrating the market with light industrial clients.