Knoxville-area family businesses were honored Oct. 9 by the Family Business Institute of East Tennessee during its inaugural awards gala.
Impact Associates of Blount County was a winner in the small business category of the competition. Other finalists in the small business category were Dayton’s Pest Control and Master Custom Homes & Remodeling.
In the medium-business category, Creative Structures Inc./Maplewood Development won. Other finalists were Braden’s Furniture and Coldwell Banker Wallace and Wallace.
In the large-business category, Stowers Machinery Corp. Other finalists were Pilot Travel Centers and Weigel’s.
A surprise fourth overall award was also presented to Bush Brothers. Called the Brighter Light Award, it was designed to specially recognize a family business designated by the executive director.
Family Business Institute Executive Director Ed Seaver said Impact Associates focuses on people, systems and cultural issues in organizations in order to improve business performance. They provide training, consulting, assessment, research and events planning for clients worldwide, he said.
“Impact is a superstar,” he said. “They’re unbelievable people. They’re very special and deserving of everything that comes their way.”
Known for their team and leadership development work, emotional intelligence in the workplace and more, Impact Associates is a consulting firm producing results for superstar organizations, Seaver said.
The husband and wife team of Dr. Vergil and Kathleen Metts founded Impact Associates in 1999. They quickly grew and today have 15 associates. Impact Associates offices are at the former Mary Starr House in downtown Maryville, Seaver said.
They serve clients such as Turner Broadcasting, KCUB, Bush Brothers and Co., ImagePoint and the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, Seaver said.
Family businesses that were nominated went through what Executive Director Ed Seaver called “a laborious task” to apply. Nominees were required to document their history and background as well as answer a lot of questions.
“The finalists that were chosen are exemplary in the way they run their business and the judges saw that,” Seaver said. “Everyone is a winner. This is a celebration.”
During the gala, a 60-second video on each finalist narrated by Hallerin Hilton Hill was shown. Each finalist was presented with a mahogany plaque.
Jay Bush, spokesman for Bush’s Baked Beans and grandson of its founder, emceed the event.
The keynote speaker was Joseph H. Astrachan, director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. He holds the Wachovia Eminent Scholar Chair of Family Business and is professor of leadership and professional development.
Seaver said he couldn’t have been more pleased with the group’s first gala.
“We had projected about 20 tables to be sold. We sold 40, double what we thought,” he said.
The Family Business Institute, a nonprofit created in 2004 to provide education to family businesses, is based in Knoxville, with its largest chapter here and another in Chattanooga. It recently started a new Smoky Mountain chapter from Gatlinburg to Morristown. In total, it has more than 50 members.
Seaver said there is a good reason why the Family Business Institute exists. “Most family-owned businesses don’t make it to the second generation,” he said. “Statistics show 70 percent of businesses are family-owned and 30 percent make it to the second generation,” he said. “People who are part of family-owned businesses need to be acknowledged and celebrated for what they do.”
Seaver said that often times there is a lot of internal strife in a family-owned business because it’s family. Sometimes parents aren’t treating kids well, and the kids aren’t treating parents well, he said.
Seaver said these dynamics problems get injected into the atmosphere at the business and cause trouble. The institute works to help companies deal with these issues through workshops, meetings and other events. “As an organization we bring in powerful speakers to speak to those pointed issues that are keeping family businesses from going forward,” he said.
(News Sentinel business reporter Carly Harrington contributed to this report.)