“Hickory Smoked Construction” Hits a Home-Run at Burger Bash Supporting the Butterfly Fund and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital

The Butterfly Fund of the East Tennessee Foundation is a valuable organization that brings awareness for more research for childhood cancer while also supporting treatment and services dedicated to defeating this disease. In partnership with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, the Butterfly Dash and Bash on August 12 raised funds through a 5k, 10k, fun walk and Burger Bash.

BurgerHickory Construction’s Burger Bash team, “Hickory Smoked Construction,” was pleased to participate in the Burger Bash as team members donated their burger-making, culinary skills to the cause. The team made a “Hickory Home-Run Slider” that included diced jalapenos and was topped with cheese, tomato and a Hickory-tree-shaped pickle with a side of smoked mac ‘n cheese.

Lead by team captain Tyler Fest, The Hickory Smoked Construction crew included Burke Pinnell, Ben Pinnell, Harold and Nettie Spencer, Emily Pritt, Chris Duncan and Mike Salley.

The “Hickory Smoked Construction” burger placed third in People’s Choice and fourth for Best Overall Burger. This was quite an accomplishment as the team was up against area restaurants with burger expertise.

“The Burger Bash was a fun way to support a wonderful organization and cause,” said Ben Pinnell. “The Butterfly Fund and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital raise valuable funds through this event in the fight against childhood cancers. Our team is honored to support this cause.”

In Honor of Veterans Day, Hickory Construction Recognizes Military Veterans on Staff

November 11 is a significant date as the country observes Veterans Day, a celebration to honor America’s military veterans who valiantly served their country and were willing to sacrifice for the common good. Hickory Construction is proud to have veterans amongst its team members.

“We value the contributions our team members make to the company, but we also have tremendous gratitude for those who served our country,” said Hickory Construction Chairman Burke Pinnell, who is a veteran. “We’re honored to employ military veterans at Hickory, and look to recognize them as we observe Veterans Day.”

Current military veterans at Hickory include:

Last year on Veterans Day, the newly constructed Blount County War Dead Memorial Plaza was unveiled during an annual Veterans Day ceremony. Hickory oversaw construction of the new memorial that now incorporates a plaza with walkways connecting all four monuments on the courthouse lawn and a bench to sit and reflect. These commemorative walkways, named The Veterans Walk of Honor, are lined with bricks engraved with the names of honored men and women who have served the country.

Hickory Construction President Ben Pinnell Selected to Join Leadership Knoxville Flagship Program

Leadership Knoxville recently announced Hickory Construction’s Ben Pinnell as one of its program’s 2018 class members, selected as one of approximately 50 participants from hundreds of applicants.

In East Tennessee, Leadership Knoxville connects a diverse network of leaders to build a stronger community through leadership programs, community workshops and events designed to inspire and challenge people at all levels of leadership development.

During Pinnell’s 12 years of employment at Hickory Construction, he has led numerous successful projects. He currently serves as company president.

His philanthropic projects have included overseeing Hickory’s involvement in Knoxville’s 2012 Extreme Makeover Home Edition, volunteering for the YWCA of Knoxville and helping boost the Blount Partnership member-affiliation campaign. Pinnell serves on the board of directors of several organizations including the Children’s Center of Knoxville, the Boy Scouts of America Smoky Mountain Council and the Board of Education Advisory Council for Architecture & Construction.

Pinnell was a Knoxville Business Journal 40 Under 40 recipient in 2012, and was named YWCA CO-Volunteer of the Year in 2016.

Leadership Knoxville’s 10-month experience allows participants to fully explore local government, education, economic development and the arts through hands-on site visits and immersive training. Participants emerge better prepared to serve more effectively in various leadership capacities across the region.

More information on Leadership Knoxville can be found at http://www.leadershipknoxville.com.

Hickory Construction Recognizes Careers in Construction Month; Seeks Skilled Workers to Meet Demand

As the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recognizes Careers in Construction Month, home builders across the country are seeking skilled workers as the market continues to grow.

According to the NAHB analysis of the federal government’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, the number of open construction sector jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis rose to 232,000 in July.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for construction jobs to continue to climb as the number of construction industry jobs is projected to grow by 12.9 percent by 2024.

Hickory Construction, an East Tennessee-based general contractor, continues to seek quality personnel amid the industry’s urgent demand for workforce.

“We’re thankful for our industrywide and company growth – but with that growth, the effort to recruit skilled workforce has remained intense,” said Hickory Construction President Ben Pinnell. “Motivated individuals with any number of professional interests and skill sets can seek a rewarding career path in construction.”

In response to the thriving market, companies like Hickory are exploring innovative ways to add qualified personnel in ways that positively impact the community.

For instance, during Hickory’s 40th anniversary celebration in May, the company announced “Hickory-Built Careers in Construction”, a $40,000 investment of scholarships – including the start of a permanent endowment – at Pellissippi State Community College’s Engineering Technology program. This program includes numerous construction-related course offerings among its associates degree options, as well as certificate programs such as “Construction Business Principles.”

Hickory-Built Careers in Construction” will provide $10,000 in funding to Pellissippi State over each of the next four years – with $4,000 per year invested in immediate scholarships and $6,000 per year set aside to build a permanent endowment.

Funds invested in the Hickory Construction Scholarship Endowment will be matched one-for-one by the United States Department of Education Title III Challenge Grant. This special grant opportunity will build capacity for scholarships for years to come.

Hickory’s scholarship adds money on top of the Tennessee Promise Scholarship for tuition-free attendance at a community college or technical college to assist with the cost of books and supplies not covered by Tennessee Promise – which can add up to hundreds per semester.

“Our industry is facing some challenges in its ability to recruit a large enough workforce, and we wanted to do something about it,” Pinnell said. “Hickory Construction’s scholarship helps students afford college and obtain the skills needed to be successful in the construction industry while also positively impacting a recognized workforce need in East Tennessee.”

Students or prospective students living in Blount or Knox counties interested in scholarship support will need to apply directly to Pellissippi State, which will oversee all recipient selections. The first round of scholarships will be granted in January for the spring 2018 semester.

For more information on a career with Hickory Construction, or to view and apply for open positions, visit www.hickoryconstruction.com/careers_landing/.


Whether building a new home or office, trust between the client and contractor plays a key role in project performance and outcomes.

In the International Journal of Business and Social Science study, Trust: The Missing Link in Construction, University of North Florida Professor Robert Soares, PhD, explores the lack of trust in construction firms. Soares finds this distrust often leads to unsuccessful completion of projects.

As Alcoa-based general contractor Hickory Construction celebrates 40 years of serving clients this year, the company has a keen understanding of trust and relationships—so much so that its motto is “Building trust on performance.”

Hickory Construction Chairman Burke Pinnell has spent decades leading the company and finds a reputation of trustworthiness is critical to sustaining a presence in the industry, particularly when working in local communities or regional areas, where trust issues can undermine brands quickly and with long-term effects.

Hickory finds these three tips help build trust, with advice that’s applicable to companies and managers in any industry:

  1. Demonstrate integrity by keeping your word. Simply, “Do what you say you are going to do”

In a 2014 study by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, researchers found that exceeding a promise isn’t viewed any more highly than keeping a promise. They concluded that promises can be hard to keep, and promise makers should spend their time wisely and make an effort to keep them.

When communicating with clients, deliver on what is communicated to the client. If the client doesn’t believe a company will keep its word, there will be an element of distrust and defensiveness that can hinder the construction process.

  1. Convey competence through a high level of expertise.

A large part of reputation and trust is the ability to provide expertise. Significant experience, impeccable craftsmanship, attention to detail and professionalism convey competence. Companies with strong training programs reinforce their employees’ ability to build knowledge over time – and to reflect that knowledge in their customer interactions.

In the Forbes article How to Build High-Trust Relationships, writer Margie Warrell describes competence as an element necessary in building trust. Companies that possess competence are more likely to exceed expectations and have better performance.

  1. Show reliability by being consistent.

Inconsistency erodes trust. Hickory Construction often has repeat clients who had a positive experience their first time in working with Hickory, and as a result, they know they can rely on the company to provide solid service and performance from project to project. Keeping quality standards and work ethic the same on every project also demonstrate reliability.

Stowers Corporate Expands Headquarters; Adds Training Facility

In 1963, Stowers Corporate opened its Knoxville facility on Rutledge Pike to serve its growing business. Now, over 50 years later, the company is still growing—and continues adding on to its corporate facilities.

An East Tennessee Cat® dealer providing sales, rentals, parts and service for Cat® machines, engines and generators, Stowers Corporate is nearing the completion of Phase Two of its Knoxville facility.

The company is working with general contractor Hickory Construction on the 16,350-square-foot, two-story expansion. This expanded space includes a training facility, new office space, large conference rooms and meeting space, two kitchens and restrooms.

The project broke ground in January 2017 and is set to be completed and have staff move in on August 12, 2017.

Hickory is close to beginning Phase Three of construction, starting in September. This phase is a complete interior renovation of the parts department and sales and support areas. The total area of the new renovations will result in a square footage of 19,000 square feet.

During Phase Three, Hickory Construction will update the life safety systems, electrical systems, HVAC systems and will change the interior layout of the space to provide a better customer and employee environment with increased efficiencies. The first stage of this phase will be completed within 12 weeks.

Both phases are designed by architecture firm Blankenship & Partners.

“We’re thrilled to work with Stowers Corporate on the expansion of their facility,” said Hickory Construction Vice President of Commercial Operations Chris Duncan. “Building trust on performance creates client relationships like we have with the Stowers family, and we’ve enjoyed seeing their company expand their operations over the years.”

Stowers Corporate President and CEO Wes Stowers finds that Hickory holds true to its reputation as a respected and reliable general contractor, as Stowers has worked with the company on multiple projects.

“We’re very pleased with Hickory’s high-quality work,” said Stowers. “Hickory performs excellent work while remaining on-schedule and within budget. We’re excited for the completion of our expanded facility.”

Hickory Construction Continues Blount County Classroom Sponsorship

As summer vacation comes to an end and students return to school, teachers are hard at work preparing their classrooms.

In an effort to ensure the best learning environments possible for their students, many teachers pay out of pocket for classroom supplies.

The Education Market Association found that virtually all teachers wind up paying for supplies, and on average spend $500 for the year. For teachers of lower-income districts, the burden can be even higher.

With community help, this burden can be defrayed.

One such community member was Hickory Construction, who had recently begun sponsoring teacher Christina Kluever’s classroom. Kluever had arrived at her room the morning of December 11, 2015 to discover the vandalism and her personal iPads she used for her instruction and students were stolen.  In 2015, the Blount County community rallied behind Porter Elementary teachers with a show of generosity following the ransacking and vandalizing of several classrooms, asking what they could do to help.

When this incident happened, Hickory Construction decided to donate iPads for Kluever’s classroom to replace those that were stolen.

This year, Hickory Construction continues their support of Blount County Schools and Kluever’s classroom with the donation of a check to cover supplies for her and her students.

Kluever, as a wife of a long-time Hickory employee is a part of the Hickory family. Recently, Mrs. Kluever transitioned to a new school and now teaches fourth grade English language arts and social studies at Rockford Elementary.

“Without the school sponsorship, these funds would be coming out of my pocket,” said Kluever. “The donation helps a lot.”  The funds help cover supplies, classroom activities, and help create a more dynamic atmosphere for Kluever’s students.

Hickory Construction finds supporting Blount County schools and education to be an important endeavor, and sees the donation as a way to support the community.

A check was presented to Kluever and Rockford Elementary School Principal Chad Tipton on July 21 by Hickory Construction VP of Marketing John McMillan.

“We are happy to help our community’s teachers and students. We hope we are enhancing their learning environment,” said McMillan.

“We hope members of the community will see what we are doing and do the same”. McMillan continues. “By sponsoring classrooms and donating to teachers, students have more resources. Funds that help cover supplies like comfortable chairs, books and technological enhancements can improve a child’s learning capabilities. We want to make a difference. At Hickory we build buildings, but we also build people. We hope our investment in the community and education leads to a better, stronger workforce and that starts in classrooms like Ms. Kluever’s.”

President’s Memorial Garden Completed at Johnson University

Johnson University has served East Tennessee for over 100 years. Recently, the university announced the completion of its Memorial Garden.

Started in January of this year, the university enlisted Alcoa-based general contractor Hickory Construction to complete the revitalization of the Garden.

The improvements include additional walkways, stairways, site lighting, a patio, a new area for future presidents and a columbarium. The school’s historic “Prayer Oak” has been made more accessible and visible, as well.

In its nearly 125-year history, the university has had only six presidents, and of the six, four are buried in the Memorial Garden, which is located across from the Old Main Building.

Hickory Construction’s Ron Dorsey served as project manager for the Memorial Garden.

“We’re flattered Johnson University selected Hickory Construction for this special project,” said Dorsey. “The Garden not only adds a beautiful element to the campus, but it’s a wonderful way for students to remember the presidents who served and gave their time to the college.”

“The completed Memorial Garden is a valuable asset to our university” said Johnson University Director of Operations Kevin O’Brien. “Our presidents are highly regarded and respected. We look forward to having the Memorial Garden as a place of reflection and remembrance.”

The Restoration House Announces June 29 Groundbreaking Event

The Restoration House (TRH), an organization supporting single-mother families and their children through supportive transitional housing, ally teams, and family advocacy, will soon be able to support significantly more families, helping them break harmful cycles and regain hope and a future.

After two years of planning and fundraising, the organization announced the groundbreaking for Phase Two of The Village, a restorative community that will ultimately include 24 units and a community center for the low-income, single-mother families. It will enable TRH to impact 140 to 160 single mothers and 280 to 320 children over the next 10 years.

The groundbreaking celebration will be held Thursday, June 29 at 10:00 a.m. at The Village site located at 2205 Village Place Way in Knoxville. Guests are encouraged to attend to learn about the vision and take a tour. Light refreshments will also be available.

To complete the new phase of The Village, TRH is once again partnering with Alcoa-based general contractor Hickory Construction. This phase will add up-to 18 new units across three buildings which include 12 two-bedroom units, 2 three-bedroom units and 4 four-bedroom units. Each unit will have a living area, dining area, kitchen and laundry closet. Units range from 1,042 square feet to 1,500 square feet.

“We’re excited to begin Phase Two of The Village with The Restoration House,” said Hickory Construction COB Burke Pinnell. “This is a valuable project for the community that will enable TRH to serve significantly more single-mother families in need of the services and housing TRH provides. We look forward to breaking ground on this project.”

Single-mother families live at The Restoration House for up-to two years, and pay 30% of their income toward rent and utilities. During this time, each mother focuses on career development and a path to self-reliance. All mothers are continually engaged in financial literacy training, financial coaching and, through Home Federal Bank, are able to participate in a 3:1 matched savings program with an Individual Development Account. The Restoration House also partners with community resources for job training, counseling, life skills, physical fitness, child enrichment activities and other services.

The Restoration House received a national spotlight in 2012 when the ABC reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” selected their West Knoxville location for a major renovation. Following this renovation, founders Daniel and Mandy Watson sought to continue their vision and address the growing number of single mothers in need of help.

“The dream of The Village is continuing to expand,” said Daniel Watson, who also serves as Executive Director. “We’re thrilled that we’ll be able to help so many more single mother families change their future while experiencing restoration in their core relationships. The families at The Restoration House inspire us each and every day with their grit, determination, and unending love for one another.”

For more information on the groundbreaking event and to register to attend, visit trhgroundbreaking.eventbrite.com. To learn more and get involved with The Restoration House, visit therestorationhouse.net.

Hickory Construction Offers Tips on How to Make Workplaces Safer in Recognition of National Safety Month

When it comes to construction work, the most important tool is safety.

This is what Hickory Construction believes, an East Tennessee-based general contractor who recently celebrated 40 years in commercial and residential building. Their motto is “building trust on performance,” and a significant part of their performance is ensuring safety.

This month, the construction industry celebrates National Safety Month, taking place every June. Hickory and other builders use this time to reflect on company policies aimed at protecting their workers.

“We recently celebrated our 40th anniversary which is something we’re proud of,” said John McMillan, company vice president and chair of Hickory’s Safety Committee. “But we’re also proud of our safety record as we create safe working environments for our team. Safety is our priority.”

Construction work is often considered a dangerous industry. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that one in ten construction workers are injured each year. While this is a somber figure statistics are improving.

OSHA has noted that employers have had dramatic improvement on workplace safety. Worker deaths in America are down on average by over 86 percent from 1970 to 2015. Worker injuries and illnesses are down from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.0 per 100 in 2015.

While safety should be a main priority for employers, Hickory Construction points out ways team members within an organization can also work to ensure safety in the workplace and provides a few tips on how individuals can all have a hand in safer workplaces:

Learn about all potential hazards in your workplace.

Employers have the responsibility to protect workers against health and safety hazards at work, but the best way to protect yourself is to recognize and prevent hazards from happening. Pay attention to things around you and always be on the lookout for potential hazards.

Make sure you understand safety procedures.

One of the best ways to stay safe is to understand and be aware of safety measures and procedures your organization has in place. For example, employers are required to protect workers from falling objects by requiring hard hats be worn during certain projects. It’s important to know when specific safety procedures are required.

Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an essential way to prevent injuries. Be aware of instances where PPE is necessary. Items like eye protection, gloves, footwear and hardhats can keep serious injuries from happening.

Think before you act.

Simple actions like keeping hallways or stairways clear of trip hazards can make a big difference, or looking both ways before pulling into traffic.

Report safety hazards on the construction site or in the work place.

If you do see something that is unsafe or hazardous, be sure to report it. It can prevent potential injuries.

Report accidents, near misses and any other safety-related incidents so that corrective action can be taken.

Have you had a close call in the workplace? Don’t hesitate to report it. It can prevent it from happening again—and possibly with a worse outcome.

Participate in safety training, meetings, safety committees and other safety-related activities.

Education is a key element in safety. If your workplace offers training and meetings on safety, make sure you attend.

Cooperate in accident investigations so that causes can be found and further accidents prevented.

If an accident does happen in the workplace, it’s helpful to cooperate in the investigation to keep similar accidents from happening in the future.

Remember that safety is never “someone else’s job.”

If everyone takes safety seriously in the workplace, it will create a safer work environment for everyone.

Following these and other safety protocols will help team members enjoy fewer injuries, according to Pinnell.

For more information about National Safety Month, visit the National Safety Council’s website, www.nsc.org. To learn more about Hickory Construction, visit www.hickoryconstruction.com.

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