More than 650 professionals and community leaders gathered at the Knoxville Convention Center on Feb. 7 to celebrate the finalists and winners of the Knoxville Chamber’s 16th Annual Pinnacle Business Awards, presented by Regions Bank.

The gala kicked off with a reception, sponsored by Strata-G, LLC. Guests then transitioned into the convention center’s ballroom to enjoy dinner and the awards program, emceed by WBIR-TV’s Robin Wilhoit and local events professional Dino Cartwright. The night ended with a congratulatory reception, sponsored by Analysis and Measurement Services, for the 2020 award winners.

Companies and individuals were recognized in nine award categories, which highlight the range of businesses that make up Knoxville’s thriving, vibrant economy, and honored for their contributions to the community.

2020 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. Finalists were All Occasion Catering, LLC, Hard Knox Pizzeria and WBIR-TV, Channel 10.

This year’s winner is All Occasion Catering, LLC. Knoxville’s most decorated full-service catering company keeps support of the causes that matter to their owners and employees at the forefront of their business. In just the past five years, volunteerism and in-kind donations from the 150-employee business have fed more than 75,000 people; contributed nearly $250,000 in goods and services; offered kitchen and life skills training to 22 individuals from underserved populations; and taught those same skills to more than 100 Fulton High School students. Owners Neal and Susan Green recognize that the gifts of food, education and time feeds not only the individual but also improves that individual’s ability to contribute to their community.

The Innovator Award, sponsored by PureMagic 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 Elo Touch Solutions, Happego and LM Industries Group, Inc.

Elo Touch Solutions took home this year’s award. The technology and solutions service provider, founded in 1971 in Oak Ridge, is a global leader in commercial digital interactivity and an established manufacturer of touch computing products. The company’s broad portfolio of interactive touchscreens allows brands, retailers, restaurants and others to easily customize their digital experience. From their first sale in August 1971 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to their 2018 roll-out of self-service kiosks at Taco Bell restaurants across the nation, continuous product innovation has earned the company recognition as the Best Restaurant Interactive Customer Experience (ICX) and the honor of being the world’s first interactive display line certified with Google Play Services.

The Small Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Verizon Wireless, 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 Brown Bag Catering, Johnson Architecture and Pretentious Beer & Glass Co.

This year’s recipient is Pretentious Beer & Glass Co. Founded in 2012, owner Matthew Cummings operates the world’s only glassblowing brewery. His downtown Knoxville space, a purchase fully financed through online beer glass sales, offers patrons unique, small batch craft brews served in glassware blown in-house. The first to make glassware specifically designed for the breadth of flavors in contemporary craft beer, Cummings’ research into how different ingredients influence taste inform his designs, which have expanded from beer to wine, whiskey and cocktail glasses. The production space also allowed the company to expand their services to corporate clients including Castle & Key Distillery and Blackberry Farm, and their online orders reinforce the brand’s national popularity, particularly in trending markets such as Portland, Los Angeles and New York.

The Minority-Owned Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Yassin’s Falafel House, 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 Gateway Delivery LLC, GEM Technologies and Insurefit RM.

GEM Technologies received this year’s award. Founded in 1994, the general contractor services government and commercial agencies in five states. A successful graduate of the Small Business Association’s 8(a) program, the 25-year-old company has more than 250 employees, provides services to regional assets like Oak Ridge National Laboratory and maintains a focus on building partnerships with their clients and the communities surrounding their work sites. Over the past 10 years, alongside their core engineering and technical offerings, the company has expanded -its service lines to include waste management, facilities maintenance, construction, demolition and environmental remediation.

The Woman-Owned Business Excellence Award, sponsored by LBMC, 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. Dance2Fit, LLC, ONEmvt, and Tennessee Associated Electric were finalists for this category.

This year’s winner is ONEmvt. Founded in 2014 as a full-service consulting firm, owner Janet Livingston has positioned her business into the industry’s leading provider of answering and call center services to healthcare and commercial markets. A commitment to the seamless integration of the client brand and ONEmvt’s core values has catapulted the company from one account to 2,000 and 120 employees in just four years.

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 Lloyd’s Electric Service, were AESSEAL Inc., MEDIC Regional Blood Center and Petro’s Chili & Chips.

MEDIC Regional Blood Center took home this year’s award. The sole regional provider of blood and blood-related products for 25 area hospitals across 22 counties, the community-resource organization is committed to enhancing the well-being of the community by providing safe, adequate and economical supplies and services. Since their beginning in 1958, the center has grown to four collection locations, expanded their Ailor Avenue headquarters and employ 150 individuals. In addition to their annual mobile drives, the organization is also implementing strategic marketing and education strategies to build a sustainable donor pipeline.

Finalists for the Large Business Excellence Award, sponsored by 21st Mortgage Corp., included Goodwill Industries – Knoxville, Inc., Hillcrest Healthcare and The Christman Company.

This year’s winner is Goodwill Industries – Knoxville, Inc. The locally-controlled nonprofit provides job and skills training to people of all ability levels, assisting them in overcoming barriers they might face when trying to enter or grow within today’s workforce. Last year, through a partnership with the Walmart Foundation and the University of Tennessee Family & Consumer Sciences Skill Up Tennessee, the organization offered on-site training to 189 employees, enrolled 50 individuals in career counseling and supported 18 employees in pursuing industry-specific training. Locally, the organization employs more than 425 individuals, annually serves the needs of 2,500 residents and operates more than 30 locations.

The Young Entrepreneur Award, presented by Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC, is awarded to a professional, 40 years of age or younger as of Feb. 7, 2020, 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 Peter Brown & Matthew Mincer, Brown Bag Catering; Seth Kehne, Lawn Butler and Kevin Ramsey, Advent Electric.

The 2020 recipients are Peter Brown and Matthew Mincer, Brown Bag Catering. In 2010, Peter Brown started the quick-service restaurant and catering business out of his kitchen with the goal of providing a healthy and affordable lunch option to businesses in the Knoxville area. With the company experiencing rapid growth, Brown offered Matthew Mincer a partnership stake. Together they have expanded to seven locations in three states, increased revenue by 445 percent and achieved an employee turnover rate that is more than 65 percent below industry average.

The James A. Haslam II Chairman’s Leadership Award, presented by The Trust Company of Tennessee, 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 Wes Stowers, President and CEO of Stowers Machinery Corporation. The Chattanooga-area native led the company, one of the nation’s smallest Caterpillar retail dealerships, to the top of the North American sales market, making East Tennessee’s Caterpillar Equipment distributor one of the most highly rated in the country. Prior to joining the 57-year-old family business, Stowers graduated from The U. S. Air Force Academy and served as an active-duty pilot for 11 years, earning recognition as Top Gun during a Red Flag Exercise. He returned to Tennessee with his wife and two daughters, serving an additional 13 years as the East Tennessee Air Force Academy Admissions Liaison Officer before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

His passion for service to his community continues alongside his professional success, demonstrated in his service to countless local and national organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, East Tennessee Economic Development Agency, United Way and the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association.

A Special Thank You:

The production of the 2020 Pinnacle Business Awards was made possible by assistance from All Occasions Party Rentals, M&M Productions USA, Bright Event Productions, Morgan Hayley Photography, Swank Floral and Big Slate Media. Media sponsors for the event included the Knoxville News Sentinel, and NewsTalk 98.7.