By Knoxville News-Sentinel staff —
Knoxville’s best in business were celebrated Friday by 800 people gathered at the Knoxville Convention Center for the 11th annual Knoxville Chamber Pinnacle Business Awards gala.
Companies and individuals were recognized in nine award categories.
The winners are:
All Occasion Catering: the Small Business Excellence Award, for business that has 50 employees that demonstrates the ability to overcome obstacles, as well as a historical index of growth in revenues and workforce.
Founded by Neal and Susan Green in 1990, All Occasion Catering The company has 13 full-time staff members and 40 total employees. The Greens moved All Occasion Catering to North Central Avenue during the height of the recession in 2008. The company has doubled its business, with at least 15 percent in growth each year. The company plans to add a second venue at the Jackson Terminal building.
Eric Barton: The Young Entrepreneur Award, presented to professionals, 40 years old or younger who have started or are at risk in ownership in their nonfranchisee business, which they have taken from early growth to some maturity.
Barton started Vanquish Worldwide in 2007 as a government contractor. The company has since expanded into a U.S. transportation and logistics business, having secured a preferred service provider contract with FedEx Ground for which it now handles more than 40 percent of packages shipped and received through Nashville. The company is headquartered in Maryville, and has offices throughout the world. Vanquish has 145 employees, including 54 locally. Barton, a Marine Corps veteran, owns about 20 different business ventures.
Cannon & Cannon Inc.: the Woman-Owned Business Excellence Award is given to an outstanding company that is at least 51 percent owned and operated by one or more women.
Angie Cannon and husband, Harold, started Cannon & Cannon, consulting engineering and field surveying firm, in 1996. The firm’s clients include public utilities; city, county and, state governments; departments of transportation; and institutional, industrial, and private developments. The firm operates an additional office in Brentwood, Tenn.
Harper Auto Square: Business Excellence Award, Mid-Sized Category, for businesses with between 51-200 employees, recognizes businesses that have shown remarkable profitability, growth and stability, and be nationally or internationally recognized in their respective sectors.
Harper Auto Square, founded in 1981, has invested more than $25 million in its dealerships, which boast luxury brands like Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, Infiniti and Maserati, as well as more moderate brands like Volkswagen and FIAT. The company has an annual payroll of nearly $10 million for its 196 employees, and generates more than $10 million annually in state sales taxes. Harper has a new dealership under construction and plans to remodel two others.
Dee Bagwell Haslam: the James A. Haslam II Chairman’s Leadership Award, given to a longtime business leader that exhibits strength in character, resolve and a commitment to the community, as well as success in the regional business community.
Haslam launched RIVR Media in 1999. The company has produced more than 100 series and documentaries and was recently named one of the top 100 production companies in the world. She is also the founder and CEO of RIVR Digital, which produces short-form marketing and training digital content, and RIVR Media Studios, a leading provider of production equipment and services. In 2012, she started Nest Features, which produces films in and about the American South.
Haslam has long served in leadership roles in the Knoxville charitable community. Since becoming part owner of the Cleveland Browns NFL franchise, she has also been active in that community, including serving as president of the Cleveland Browns Foundation.
Marc Nelson Denim: the Minority-Owned Business Excellence Award recognizes companies that have achieved notable growth and are at least 51 percent owned by an ethnic minority.
In 2011, Marcus Hall founded Marc Nelson Denim, a designer clothing and lifestyle brand that specializes in producing small-batch, limited designs. The company’s apparel is designed, produced, and finished in the U.S. In 2014, Marc Nelson Denim opened its flagship store at 700 E. Depot Street. Its brand can be found in 25 specialty stores, as well as several chain and department stores.
Prestige Cleaners/Prestige Tuxedo: the Impact Award, given to a business committed to making the region a better place to live through the development and support of community projects and programs.
Eddie Mannis, the company’s president, has provided financial, promotional and volunteer support to many nonprofit organizations, including its deep involvement with the Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries’ Coats for the Cold and Knox County Schools’ Project Classroom. In 2007, the company started Honor Air — Knoxville, which has flown more than 2,300 veterans to Washington, D.C., memorials built in their honor. Prestige spearheads the organization, operation and fundraising and has donated nearly $420,000.
Proton Power: the Innovator Award, 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.
Founded in 2005 by Sam Weaver and Dan Hensley, Proton Power has developed a technology to convert biomass material into a hydrogen-rich gas stream. The byproduct is used to create heat, electricity and liquid fuels. Proton Power’s first commercial client was Wampler’s Farm Sausage, and its in the early stages of commercialization with seven customers.
Radio Systems Corp.: Business Excellence Award, Large Category, for businesses with more than 200 employees,
Founded by Randy Boyd in 1991, the company employs 350 people at its West Knoxville headquarters and 600 worldwide. Radio Systems produces 4,600 pet products under brand names including Invisible Fence, PetSafe and SportDog. The company also operates two PetSafe Village locations and has also established six dog parks in Knox County. This marks the fourth Pinnacle Business Award Radio Systems Corp and Boyd — currently servicing as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development — has received in the past 11 years. Others were the Innovator Award, the Impact Award in 2013 and the 2014 James A. Haslam II Leadership Award winner.