Participating Companies & Speakers

Students who participate in the 2019 Summer Business Experience will have the opportunity to meet members of the Rollins College of Business faculty and staff as well as business leaders from the Chattanooga area. 


Previous Participating Companies

 About PlayCore:

"We are inspired by the creativity and motivation of the communities we meet. By providing playground equipment, fan seating, water recreation products, and more - we help each of these communities realize their dream recreation space, and relish the excitement that is generated from those dreams being fulfilled. PlayCore helps build stronger communities around the world by advancing play through research, education, and partnerships. Our company infuses this learning into our complete family of brands."

About USXpress:

As America's 2nd largest privately owned truckload carrier, U.S. Xpress brings together an unbeatable team of experts who work together to keep America's freight moving down our nation's highways.

About EPB Fiber Optics

"EPB is one of America's largest publicly owned electric power providers. We're also the pioneering communications company that surprised the nation with the first Gigabit Internet speeds, crystal clear television and telephone service utilizing a community-wide fiber optic network. But most of all, we're here to serve Chattanooga with the neighbor-to-neighbor local service you've come to expect from us."

About BridgeInnovate

"We are a global team of business innovation consultants, analysts and strategists with a single focus: to help business leaders remove obstacles to growth, and so prosper. In a time of unrelenting change and increasing complexity, we help business executives build the muscles to produce seismic, sustainable change that will grow their companies and transform industries."

About Tuftco:

"Tuftco has over 250 associates working day-in and day-out to meet our customer needs whatever they are and wherever they are in the world. Tuftco has tremendous depth of experience in engineering for both the Tufting Machine Division and the Finishing Systems Company. Additionally, Tuftco employs a number of software engineers working to develop user friendly operating systems for various machine constructions. Having this engineering capability in-house allows Tuftco to provide more innovative solutions and quicker response times to customer needs. 

About Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.:

"Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, one of the world's leading automobile manufacturers and the largest carmaker in Europe. It operates a manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, TN and houses the U.S. operations of a worldwide family of distinguished and exciting brands including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen, as well as VW Credit, Inc."

About TN Aquarium:

"The Tennessee Aquarium envisions a world that values all aquatic environments. Our mission is to inspire wonder, appreciation and protection of water and all life that it sustains. Each day the Tennessee Aquarium connects visitors with the natural world through exhibitory and educational presentations. While we offer an entertaining experience, our guests genuinely appreciate the knowledge we impart, which helps them better understand creatures and habitats from around the world."

About the Chamber of Commerce INCubator:

"We are 127,000 square feet of startup support on Chattanooga's NorthShore - the largest business incubator in the state of Tennessee, and the third largest in the United States. 

We help entrepreneurs achieve success through a three-year, progressive development program that capitalizes on the synergy of the BDC's unique entrepreneurial ecosystem made up of about 50 startup businesses."

About the Edney Innovation Building:

"The Edney Innovation Center is the front door to Chattanooga's Innovation District. It's a connection point, support base, and catalyst for the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Edney is where startups come to accelerate, grow and thrive. Ideas are born here every day at community events and workshops hosted on the Fifth Floor."

About RMJ Tactical:

"RMJ Tactical manufactures full-tang tactical tools, built for use in the most extreme conditions where structural failure is not an option."


About McKee Foods:

"McKee Foods is best known for our line of Little Debbie brand snack cakes. Little Debbie® is America's leading snack cake brand because we provide consumers with quality products of excellent value."


Previous Speakers



Mayor Andy Berke, City of Chattanooga

During the Mayor's tenure, Chattanooga has seen a number of improvements in quality of life. Through a coordinated approach with the US attorney, the District Attorney, and law enforcement agencies, the City has seen a decrease in both property and violent crime. Since March of 2013, unemployment has dropped more than 2% and over 6,157 new jobs have come to the Chattanooga region. Not only is overall employment on the rise, foreclosure rates have decreased while Chattanooga had the third highest wage growth in the country for a mid-sized city in 2014.  

James McKissic, Director of Diversity, City of Chattanooga

James McKissic is the Director of the City of Chattanooga Office of Multicultural Affairs. His role for the City includes linking diverse businesses to City of Chattanooga contracting opportunities, tracking the City's supplier diversity and working to promote goodwill among the employees and citizenry of Chattanooga. He is a native of Cleveland, TN and has worked in the nonprofit and public sectors for more than 20 years. James holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a Master of Public Administration from the Robert F. Wagner School at New York University and an executive certificate from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Alan Cates, Attorney, Husch Blackwell

Alan is a member of Husch Blackwell's Financial Services & Capital Markets industry team, focusing his practice on investment management and private wealth matters. With decades of comprehensive legal experience, he has guided individuals and their businesses in estate planning and business succession planning. Additionally, Alan has represented individual and institutional executors and trustees in virtually all sorts of litigation matters, both as defense counsel and initiating action. He has also represented taxpayers in administrative proceedings and in courtrooms, and provided critical services to tax-exempt organizations. He also has served as "general counsel" to families and their businesses."

David Masters, ClearOptionsHR

We are a comprehensive human resource consulting company offering a wide range of services including leadership training, payroll services, background checks, drug testing, safety, outplacement, plant closing support, human resource audits and other services to companies and organizations in the for profit and nonprofit segments."

Rose Decosimo, Accounting, Elliott Davis Decosimo

Rose provides assurance services to public companies, not-for-profit organizations and privately held businesses in industries including financial services, hospitality and manufacturing. Rose serves clients ranging from small privately held businesses to organizations with total assets in excess of a billion dollars. As a result of more than 20 years' experience, Rose can effectively communicate with a public company audit committee as well as a small business owner. Having served on numerous not-for-profit organization boards, Rose holds an in-depth knowledge of non-profit operations. She uses this experience to develop significant expertise in the area of auditing non-profit entities. She has been a frequent speaker on not-for-profit accounting updates, board governance and women's roles in philanthropy. Rose served on the Assurance Services Special Interest Group Committee of Moore Stephens North America.

Robin Derryberry, Derryberry PR

Robin is a native Chattanoogan, seventh generation Tennesseean and proud alumna of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she received her Undergraduate and Master's Degrees. Robin's diverse career path has developed into quite an assortment of hats that she's worn over the years: court administrator, campaign manager, partner, community volunteer, and small business owner.

Robin's success in political strategy is used daily at the firm to assist clients who face challenges in the business world. She's done a little bit of everything: from turning a city council vote from a unanimous defeat to a unanimous victory, to rebranding the Ocoee Region for the USDA Forest Service, to writing an obituary...for a chimp."

Kim White, CEO, River City Company

A Chattanooga native, who moved away for over 20 years, Kim will tell you she is amazed at how far the city has come since she left. What's even more remarkable is the fact that for the past 6 years, she has gotten to put her passion into practice leading an organization responsible for so many of the positive changes in Downtown Chattanooga.

Before coming to River City Company in 2009, Kim served as president and CEO of the Corker Group as well as Luken Holdings, managing and leasing over 2 million square feet of real estate. Prior to returning to Chattanooga, she had a successful 16 year career with Fortune 500 Company, ALLTEL Communications.

Ray Ryan, President & Portfolio Manager, Patten and Patten Investments

Raymond V. Ryan is the President and a Portfolio Manager of Patten and Patten Investments. Prior to joining the firm in 1999, he worked in several areas of the capital markets, including investment banking for SunTrust Equitable Securities Corporation in Nashville, TN. Prior to his tenure with SunTrust Equitable, Mr. Ryan worked in capital markets, including institutional fixed-income sales and trading, for Lehman Brothers. He is a CFA Charter holder and has served as an instructor with a leading CFA preparatory organization. He is a member of the American Economic Association and is a past President of the CFA Society of Chattanooga. Mr. Ryan is a member of the Advisory Board for the UT Chattanooga College of Business and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Finance. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Trustees for The Bright School and The Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy.

Josh Kapellusch, CEO/Founder, Mach Fuels

Mach Fuels was born from a passion to serve society while working in the automotive industry. Influenced by my Grandfather Bill Winch, a life-time entrepreneur, I founded Mach Fuels to capitalize on innovative technology and emerging market opportunities. My duties include rapid growth planning, lean-business operations, market development, quality management, and entrepreneurial innovation.

Our team builds the future of automotive refueling by designing, building, and operating world-class natural gas and propane fuel stations. Mach Fuels converts vehicles into hybrids to use these low cost, clean, and American fuels for a sustainable future. We deliver the first ever complete alternative fuel solutions.

Shelley Prevost, Partner & Director of Happiness, Lamp Post Group

With clients ranging from ambitious young tech firms to half a billion dollar transportation juggernauts, Lamp Post Group accelerates growth by doing all the things you wish you could.

It's not affordable to hire all the expertise you need to plan, manage and scale. But through Lamp Post Group you can tap into the power of shared resources. In the Lamp Post family, you will join a thriving community of entrepreneurs and mentors tackling the same challenges as you. From human resources to accounting and finance, information technology to credit and collections, Lamp Post fills the gaps so that you don't lose the big vision.

And when the needs arise, Lamp Post's venture capital incubator can lead you to the next level through capital investment, executive mentorship and strategic planning. It's all here, let us help you grow.

Mike Bradshaw, Executive Director, CoLab

CO.LAB is a non-profit supporting Chattanooga's robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our work has been widely recognized as one of the drivers of the city's economic renaissance, including developing the first commercial applications leveraging Chattanooga's unique metro-wide, ultra-high speed, low latency 10 gigabit fiber networ. We initiated programs to draw advanced manufacturing entrepreneurs to the city's modern infrastructure and deep manufacturing legacy, including the first 3D Printing-oriented business accelerator ever produced in 2014. Several amazing companies were started in Chattanooga and are thriving in 2017.

Michael Henry, Data Analytics, The Johnson Group

"At The Johnson Group, we specialize in teaming up with brands that are facing Giant challenges in their categories, from giant competitors to giant industry shakeups. We launch smart, unexpected ideas that stand out in the marketplace and beat the odds."

Merri Mai Williamson, Founder and Chairperson, Application Researchers

"Application Researchers started investigating job applicants in 1994. Our pre-employment screenings check applicant's criminal, civil and federal records as well as previous employment, education, credit and motor vehicle records. As a professional background investigation company coupled with extensive human resource experience, Application Researchers knows what to look for in your potential applicants and, more importantly, where to find it. We use our expertise to uncover the common ways applicants hide information to avoid detection."

Chris Sislo, Wealth Advisor, HHM Wealth Management

"At HHM Wealth, we apply more than 100 years of combined wealth management experience to your future. Our dedicated team of advisors analyzes past and present trends. They use that knowledge to design a customized plan to assist you in making more informed decisions for your future wealth."