More than 600 people gathered at the Knoxville Convention Center on April 26 to celebrate the finalists and winners of the Knoxville Chamber’s 15th Annual Pinnacle Business Awards, presented by Regions Bank.
The gala kicked off with a reception and silent auction. Attendees then transitioned into the convention center’s ballroom to enjoy dinner and the awards program, emceed by WBIR-TV’s Robin Wilhoit and Communications Personality Dino Cartwright.
Companies and individuals were recognized in eight award categories, which highlight the range of businesses that make up Knoxville’s thriving, vibrant economy, and to honor their contributions to the local community.
2019 Pinnacle Award Winners:
The Impact Award, sponsored by Publix, honors a business that displays a commitment to making East Tennessee a better place to live and work through the development and support of community projects or programs. This year’s finalists were Aubrey’s Inc., M&M Productions USA and ORNL Federal Credit Union.
This year’s winner is M&M Productions USA. Central to founder Mike Brown’s vision for the full-service event, broadcast and production company is investing in youth and education. In addition to executing more than 600 annual events across the country, employees donate their time, expertise and equipment to nonprofit and educational groups in their respective communities. In East Tennessee, where the company is headquartered, M&M Productions USA has installed and upgraded broadcast studios for area schools; mentored students through the execution of CTE Goes Live; and donated discounted services to a variety of nonprofit-fundraisers. Nationally, they fund scholarships for DECA. As the company continues to grow so does its philanthropic impact, which last year totaled more than $320,000.
The Innovator Award, sponsored by Pure Magic Carwash, is given to a business that has developed a new technology, innovative product or service, or applied a business system or service in an innovative way. The finalists this year were PerfectServce and ZenEvo.
PerfectServe took home this year’s award. The company was formed in response to frustrations experienced by owner Terry Edwards’ wife, a nurse who handled inbound communications for a private physician’s practice and experienced frequent delays when receiving and communicating messages from the answering service related to patient care. The platform’s dynamic intelligent routing (DIR) feature and cloud-based architecture provides immediate connection to the right care team member no matter their location. As a result, care continuity and clinical workflow have been directly impacted with health systems using PerfectServe boasting a more than 30-minute reduction in the communication cycle and 1.86% reduction in length of patient stay translating to a $1.98 million impact.
The Small Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Strata-G, LLC, is presented to a business with 50 or fewer employees that has consistently grown its workforce and revenue and overcome obstacles including access to capital, operational efficiency, control of expenses, customer loyalty and distribution. Finalists in this category were RDI Technologies, Shafer Insurance Agency and Two Roads.
This year’s recipient is Two Roads. The cloud-based, fixed-rate bookkeeping firm allows small businesses and start-ups to stay focused on their dreams by fully outsourcing their financial operations at a significant cost savings. With a service-first approach, the company is redefining the accounting experience for their customers by beginning with relationships, not paperwork. The Knoxville-based firm opened a Memphis location in October 2016 and is currently serving clients in 17 states.
The Minority-Owned Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Covenant Health, recognizes a minority-owned business that has produced outstanding business results and growth and overcome the obstacles of race or ethnicity. This year’s finalists were Compassionate Home Healthcare, GEM Technologies and Yassin’s Falafel House.
Yassin’s Falafel House received this year’s award. After coming to America in 2011, Yassin Terou began selling homemade gyros from a table in front of the local mosque. An entrepreneurial member of the mosque, Nadeem Siddiqi, recognized Terou’s potential and became an investor in Yassin’s Falafel House. The restaurant and catering business now boasts two locations and 30 employees, all operated under the proprietor’s founding motto, “Open heart, open door.”
The Woman-Owned Business Excellence Award, sponsored by The Trust Company of Tennessee, is given to an outstanding woman-owned business that is independently owned, operated and controlled by a female. The winner demonstrates the ability to compete in a non-diverse field. ABA Interventions, Harmony Family Center and Performance Training, Inc. were finalists for this category.
This year’s winner is Harmony Family Center. Founded by Pam Wolf in 1996, Harmony Family Center has developed an innovative array of family preservation and treatment services designed to increase the well-being of Tennessee children and families. The nationally-recognized organization finds safe, caring families for at-risk children and youth in the state welfare system and provides pre- and post-adoption services to help the process succeed. To date, Wolf and her 154 employees have served more than 85,000 Tennessee children and families.
The Business Excellence Award is divided into a mid-sized category for businesses with 51-200 total employees, and a large company category for those with 201 or more employees. These awards are presented to businesses headquartered in East Tennessee, or those with a significant presence in East Tennessee that have shown remarkable profitability, growth and stability and are recognized regionally, nationally and/or internationally in their respective business sectors.
Finalists for the Mid-Sized Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Lloyds’ Electric Service, Inc. were Hickory Construction, Inc., MBI Companies, Inc. and Zoo Knoxville.
Zoo Knoxville took home this year’s award. As the most visited attraction in Knox County, Zoo Knoxville attracts more than a half million visitors annually and generates a local impact of $28 million each year. The zoo curates a living collection of 1,225 individual animals representing 182 species and participates in 83 unique species survival plans that work to save imperiled wildlife for future generations. The attraction serves as a key educational resource and tourism driver for East Tennessee.
Finalists for the Large Business Excellence Award, sponsored by LBMC, PC, included Covenant Health, Stowers Machinery Corporation and Tombras Group.
This year’s winner is Stowers Machinery Corp. Operating in Knoxville since 1960, locally-owned Stowers Machinery Corp. is East Tennessee’s Caterpillar dealer. The equipment distributor has grown from three initial locations offering medium and heavy machinery to six full-service facilities providing customers access to the full spectrum of construction products. Throughout its 58-year history, the company has remained dedicated to providing customers with unmatched support and contributing generously to community organizations that are improving the quality of life in East Tennessee.
The Young Entrepreneur Award, presented by Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC, is awarded to a young professional, 40 years of age or younger as of May 4, 2018, who lives and works in East Tennessee and has achieved success while overcoming obstacles, to become one of tomorrow’s top leaders. The winner will have started or is at risk in ownership of his/her business and will have moved the company from early growth to some maturity. This year’s finalists were Andrew Randazzo of Prime Medical Training, Elizabeth Ginder or ABA Interventions and Gary Weaver of Weaver Medical Supply.
The 2019 recipient is Andrew Randazzo, Prime Medical Training. Randazzo, a licensed paramedic, was given the opportunity to teach early in his healthcare career. That opportunity uncovered a passion for education and revealed alarming deficiencies in available CPR training. In response, he founded Prime Medical Training, a health-and-safety education for working professionals whose responsibilities requires certification and to the general public for personal development. Since its inception in 2013, the number of instructors needed to meet the demands of the company’s Knoxville office has more than doubled, and Randazzo has opened three new locations in the Tri-Cities, Charlotte and Atlanta.
The James A. Haslam II Chairman’s Leadership Award, presented by Prestige Cleaners, is given to a longtime business leader that exhibits strength in character, resolve and a commitment to the community and has demonstrated exemplary success in the regional business community.
This year’s honoree is Mintha Roach, former CEO of Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB).
The first female president and CEO of the Knoxville Utilities Board, Roach graduated from the University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business with a bachelor’s degree n personnel management and masters in human resources. The Maryville native took her first job with the City of Knoxville before moving to KUB in 1993 as manager of human resources. From there, Roach rose through the ranks, serving as a member of the organization’s senior staff before being named CEO in 2004. During her tenure, the region’s largest utilities company created a funding plan for infrastructure replacement, developed an assistance program for low-income customers and placed a renewed focus on customer service.
The gala concluded with a champagne toast to the winners and a Chairman’s Celebration featuring dessert, drinks and live music.
The production of the 2019 Pinnacle Business Awards was made possible by assistance from All Occasions Party Rentals, M&M Productions USA, Bright Event Productions, LB Floral, Moser Visuals and. Media sponsors for the event included the Knoxville News Sentinel, knox.biz and NewsTalk 98.7.