8 Chattanooga Companies to Watch in 2023

 

By Chelsea Risley

Chattanooga is known for its thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs who support and challenge each other to greater heights. From beverage industry artisans to natural stone industry disruptors, there’s a place for everyone. Follow these eight companies as they grow and flourish in 2023.

Atlas Organics

Photos Courtesy of Atlas Organics

Composting to Reverse Climate Change

 

United in a pursuit to make a positive impact on the environment, Gary Nihart and Joseph McMillin came together to create a service to regenerate their local soil in South Carolina. Nihart brought experience operating compost facilities and McMillin brought his experience collecting and hauling recyclables from his company, Junk Matters, and created Atlas Organics. The company collects both commercial and residential organic waste, processes it, and then delivers high-quality finished compost to help build and support a sustainable, healthy environment for everyone.

Piles of compost from Atlas Organics

Why It’s a Company to Watch: 

Nihart and McMillin have personally worked in every aspect of the company, from collecting organic waste to operating the machinery at the composting site. They built their commercial client base to include the corporate, education, healthcare, hospitality, and industrial sectors while empowering local residents to make a difference through diverting food waste. Atlas Organics’ commitment to reversing climate change by regenerating the soil and supporting healthy ecosystems has led them to provide high-quality compost to clients in more than a dozen states across the United States, including Tennessee.

 

2022 in Review:

Gary Nihart and Joseph McMillin

Gary Nihart and Joseph McMillin

Last year, Atlas Organics expanded into the West and Florida and continued deepening its relationships in Tennessee in many ways, including joining the Tennessee Composting Council as well as strengthening its relationship with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The company also continued supporting their work with Compost House at Crabtree Farms in Chattanooga, where they partner to collect waste from local residential and commercial clients, including the Chattanooga Lookouts, and offer monthly subscriptions for residential compost deliveries.

 

Outlook for 2023:

Atlas Organics was first introduced to Chattanooga through a request for compost, and once they dug deeper, they realized that Chattanooga is a city interested in increasing its sustainable business practices. This makes it a great home for their newest facility, which will empower Chattanoogans to make a greater environmental impact with easy composting. Toward the end of 2022, Atlas Organics leased a three-acre tract for a new food and yard waste composting facility near downtown Chattanooga, so 2023 will be focused on building that site. In addition to this growth, Atlas Organics will be integrating with their parent company, Generate Upcycle, to offer an even more diverse range of technologies for circular waste solutions.

 

Cha Cha Masala Chai

Photos Courtesy of Cha Cha Masala Chai

Concentrating on Bold Flavors

 

Antonio and Onteaya Tate love exploring new places and fell in love with the bold flavors of chai while traveling. When they returned home and began planning the menu for their new coffee shop, The Green Bean Coffee Co., they realized there was an opportunity to create a product unlike anything used in other coffee shops around town – a chai concentrate with unique flavors.

Why It’s a Company to Watch:

The husband and wife team developed their perfectly balanced chai concentrate recipe and secured a spot in Proof Incubator’s Consumer Packaged Goods Accelerator Program. From there, they started serving Cha Cha Masala Chai in their own coffee shop and have now expanded availability to other local shops. Due to the super concentrated nature of the product, the bold chai flavors can be added to more than just lattes. The Tates recommend adding it to cocktails, sauces for wings and meatballs, and sweet breakfast treats like waffles and oatmeal.

 

2022 in Review:

Antonio Tate Founder of Cha Cha Masala Chai concentrate.

Antonio Tate

 

The duo launched their second coffee shop in Chattanooga, which will serve as the flagship location for Cha Cha Masala Chai. The product is being served in several other local coffee shops and cafes, including The Daily Ration, Allgood’s Used Books and Coffee, and both Plant Candy Collective locations. In addition to being available for wholesale, in 2022, Cha Cha Masala Chai expanded to two retail bottle sizes, a 16 oz. and a half gallon option, available in their online store.

 

Outlook for 2023:

Onteaya Tate Founder of Cha Cha Masala Chai concentrate.

Onteaya Tate

With the momentum gained from winning CO.LAB’s 2022 “Will This Float?” competition, Cha Cha Masala Chai intends to expand the e-commerce aspect of the business to offer easier access for consumers and streamline the wholesale process for local businesses. They hope to soon offer their products on the shelves of larger stores like Whole Foods, Pruett’s Market, and Target. In addition to appreciating Chattanooga for its entrepreneurial ecosystem, the Tates say it’s also perfectly situated for growing their network to nearby markets such as Knoxville, Nashville, and Atlanta.

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Institutional Compliance Solutions

Photos Courtesy of Institutional Compliance Solutions

Individualizing Counsel for Complex Issues

 

When Courtney Bullard, founder and CEO of Institutional Compliance Solutions, served as in-house counsel for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, she witnessed firsthand the complex issues facing schools and institutions when it comes to responding to and addressing sexual misconduct. She found a gap in practical and legal advice for these situations and was inspired to found ICS in order to provide unique services, including investigations, training, and legal advice.

 

Why It’s a Company to Watch: 

Though ICS is a local company, it has national impact with clients in 47 states. Despite impressive growth since the company’s start, it remains committed to its mission of integrity and respect in providing practical and transparent advice to clients. ICS “measures success on impact, not on revenue,” Bullard explains. ICS also boasts individualized services to each client. Since they work with the private sector, large school districts, state institutions, churches, and everything in between on matters involving sexual misconduct, each organization requires different approaches to creating safer environments.

 

2022 in Review:

Courtney Bullard from Institutional Compliance Solutions is in Chattanoogas companies to watch

Courtney Bullard

According to Bullard, ICS has grown revenue by 600% in three years. Among the main accomplishments of the last year is an official certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Last year also marked the continued success of Title IX University, an online training platform that allows school administrators to take legally mandated Title IX training. Through Title IX U, schools also have access to virtual events, compliance aids, and other resources.

 

Outlook for 2023:

ICS aims to continue growing services for Chattanooga-area private and public schools as well as for the private sector, specifically in the areas of discrimination and workplace misconduct. This year will also see the creation of a new training center to host education on consent and preventing sexual harassment, primarily for high school seniors and college freshmen, though the center will be available to Title IX and human resource teams as well.

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StoneLoads

Photos Courtesy of StoneLoads

Revolutionizing a Stone-Age System

 

StoneLoads was born out of need – Patrick Wells, co-founder and CEO of StoneLoads, is also the CEO of Majestic Stone, a natural stone quarry and fabrication company. In the course of growing Majestic Stone, Wells realized he needed a better way to navigate the industry. With the help of his team – John Bryant, Natalie Roy Martin, and David Martin – he built StoneLoads, an online marketplace of natural stone products where buyers can easily make purchases and sellers can easily update their inventories.

 

Why It’s a Company to Watch: 

As the only platform of its kind, StoneLoads definitely disrupts the status quo in the natural stone industry. It can be difficult to convince folks that the old-school processes are outdated and there are more convenient ways to do business, but StoneLoads is having great success, with transactions taking place as soon as the site launched. The aim for this platform isn’t to eliminate the need for interpersonal relationships, but rather to streamline the process and make it easier for industry professionals to connect.

 

Owner holding a stone from StoneLoads.

2022 in Review:

After the official launch, the focus shifted to growing the marketplace with more products and suppliers. In December, StoneLoads introduced a feature that makes the process even easier with instant freight quotes and the ability to book a delivery when ordering truckloads of stone. StoneLoads services are utilized by both national landscape companies and local small businesses. “It’s wonderful to see my peer quarry owners selling, in a single transaction, more product than they sometimes would in a day,” Wells says. “It’s clear to see that what we’ve built is a game-changer.”

 

Outlook for 2023:

This year will be spent incorporating the feedback StoneLoads has received so far to continue making the platform more intuitive and an easy, everyday tool for professionals industry-wide. The original StoneLoads launch was just after the typical busy landscape and hardscape season, so Wells is confident that 2023 will exceed expectations now that they have the platform running at full capacity in time for their first true busy season.

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Wood + Wolfe

Photos Courtesy of Wood + Wolfe

Welding Jewelry and Changing Culture

Permanent jewelry isn’t new, but it has risen in popularity in recent years. Katie Wood, a corporate attorney, and Jill Wolfe, a certified welder, noticed permanent jewelry offerings popping up in larger cities and saw their window to start a business closer to home. Wood + Wolfe was born out of a perfect professional match – Wolfe handles the technical welding skills and Wood handles the legal and financial end of the business. The company focuses on events, popups, and parties, where they offer bracelets and necklaces welded together on-site – no clasp needed.

 

Why It’s a Company to Watch: 

After opening in the summer of last year, Wood + Wolfe brought in over $100,000 in sales in their first four months of business alone. In addition to the aim of providing affordable permanent jewelry and a fun, out-of-the-ordinary experience, Wood + Wolfe champions inclusivity – as Wood says, “It’s just a silly little jewelry company, but sometimes it can be a lot more.” They strive to be a part of changing culture for the better by creating spaces that are welcoming for everyone and represent people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

 

Jill Wolfe and Katie Wood sitting on the front porch of their company Wood + Wolfe.

Jill Wolfe and Katie Wood

2022 in Review:

A highlight of the last year was the team’s first professional branding shoot for which they hand-selected photographers, videographers, and models in order to portray their message of inclusivity. Wood + Wolfe boasts multiple viral social media posts and had the opportunity to work with some of the founders’ favorite influencers. They also were vendors at several major festivals and began hiring independent contractors and service providers to extend their reach.

 

Outlook for 2023:

This year the startup will be focusing on sustainable growth, which means finding both advisors and investors while maintaining the quality of goods and services they already provide. Wood + Wolfe anticipates doubling their annual sales in 2023 and aims to further grow their local business to events like Riverbend and Moon River Festival, as well as expand into other cities beyond their current bases of Chattanooga, Nashville, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Maven Table

Photos Courtesy of Maven Table

Mixing It Up With Balsamic and Bitters

The founders of Maven Table had a desire for high-quality, healthy cocktail mixers, and as one founder, Rachel Wanamaker, put it, they were inspired to make the products they wanted to see on shelves. They began by purchasing and rebranding Olive Chattanooga and created their signature balsamic vinegar cocktail (and mocktail) mixers. Each mixer is designed to be added to a particular liquor and plain seltzer water for an approachable cocktail that doesn’t require many ingredients, with the intention of making it easy to entertain at a moment’s notice.

 

Why It’s a Company to Watch:

 Although the company is relatively new, they’ve tapped into a unique area of the ever-growing drink industry. Maven Table’s products can be found locally at Sophie’s, nationally at Bloomingdale’s, and at partnered boutiques throughout the country. What really sets them apart from other cocktail mixers is their clean, all-natural ingredients – they exclusively use infused balsamic vinegars, and the bitters are made using modern herbalist techniques.

 

Maven table owners sitting on stairs with their cocktail mixers.2022 in Review:

Last year, Maven Table streamlined its product line by eliminating olive oil and focusing on mixers. They also began a new partnership with The Bitter Bottle, a local small-batch bitters company owned by Kaleena Goldsworthy-Warnock, with bitters uniquely created for the discerning palates of food and beverage industry professionals. The partners’ goal is to expand their product offering and strengthen their overall brand as a quality cocktail ingredient company that makes crafting cocktails at home affordable and accessible.

 

Outlook for 2023:

Wanamaker and Goldsworthy-Warnock are excited to begin offering new canned ready-to-drink options for health-conscious consumers in 2023. They also plan to spend this year expanding their product lines and continue growing into new markets, regionally and nationally. They’re in a good position to do this since Chattanooga is a strategic place to grow a business – both Wanamaker and Goldsworthy-Warnock love the city for all its offerings, not the least of which is the community of innovative and inspirational entrepreneurs.

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Mountain View Low Vision Services

Photos Courtesy of Mountain View Low Vision Services

Increasing Access to Practical Tools for Vision Loss

 

Cheryl Saucier, owner of Mountain View Low Vision Service (MVLVS), has been in the vision rehabilitation field for over 30 years. As a low vision therapist, she has recognized that there is “little awareness about the spectrum of vision loss and its impacts on daily life,” Saucier explains. In a nutshell, her mission for MVLVS is access and awareness – connecting people with vision loss with resources, services, and high-quality curated products to lessen the impact of low vision on their lives.

 

Why It’s a Company to Watch: 

Though MVLVS launched just before the pandemic halted normal operations, Saucier was able to pivot and even doubled the company’s gross sales in 2020. Part of this success is due to Saucier’s unique approach to assistive technology sales that comes from her clinical background and emphasis on rehabilitative outcomes. To this end, MVLVS partners with the occupational therapy program at UTC as well as Comprehensive In-Home Therapy to train occupational therapists in helping someone with vision loss test out and use the devices that work best for them.

 

Mountain View Low Vision Services owner Cheryl saucier.

Cheryl Saucier

2022 in Review:

After solid growth throughout the pandemic, MVLVS opened a brick-and-mortar store and spent last year focusing on the best ways to use the space, including holding training sessions for occupational therapists and other industry professionals in addition to the clients who will be using the devices. One of the biggest highlights of the year was becoming a top five finalist in Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union’s Idea Leap Grant competition.

 

Outlook for 2023:

Saucier’s goal for this year is to increase sales by growing the company’s network. She plans to use the Idea Leap funds to create a library of video content for training occupational therapists. If there are more highly trained occupational therapists in the area, there will be more access to rehabilitative care for those with vision loss and then more exposure to the products MVLVS offers. Saucier is also aiming to expand the company’s presence in the surrounding Southern states.

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Bumgarner Construction

Photos Courtesy of Bumgarner Construction

Tackling the Biggest Installations in Sports

 

LSU sign installed by Bumgarner Construciton.

 

When the housing market crashed in 2008, home builder Gary Bumgarner, owner of Bumgarner Construction, found himself in a difficult situation. According to Bumgarner, his next endeavor sort of fell into his lap: “Someone asked me if I could build a jumbotron, and since I didn’t have a lot of other work going on, I said yes.” Building skills transferred well to this new undertaking, so his crew retooled and re-educated themselves and got to work. Their first large-scale project, a jumbotron at Louisiana State University, remains Bumgarner’s favorite because of the satisfaction of seeing how far his company has come since its start.

 

Why It’s a Company to Watch: 

What sets Bumgarner Construction apart from its competitors is its attention to detail. The crew – and the foreman in particular – is very detail-oriented and ensures that the company stays focused on fulfilling clients’ wishes from start to finish. Bumgarner prefers to consider his relationship with his clients a partnership rather than a job since they’re working together toward the same goal, usually for an extended amount of time that it takes to complete a project.

 

Steve Warren, Gary Bumgarner, and Richard Porter of BumGarner Construction and a Football game.

Steve Warren, Gary Bumgarner, and Richard Porter

2022 in Review:

In 2021, the company completed the massive jumbotron at the Los Angeles Rams’ SoFi Stadium in time for 2022’s Super Bowl 56, which, according to Bumgarner, “was the biggest project on the planet for sports.” After winning the contract in 2017, it took months of labor with crews working 12- to 15-hour days to complete – all while navigating around the stadium schedule. With that impressive accomplishment under their belts, they moved on to Michigan State for a basketball arena installation.

 

Outlook for 2023:

This year will see the crew continuing their partnership with Michigan State with a new installation for Spartan Stadium, home of the school’s football program, as well as working on a new project for the Chattanooga Airport. Bumgarner Construction will also be focusing its energy on building new partnerships and landing contracts closer to the South since that’s somewhat of a rarity for a core team that calls Chattanooga home. Bumgarner has his sights set on winning a bid for a project for the Tennessee Titans.

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