There are so many great entrepreneurs in Memphis, and their stories need to be told. Entrepreneurial Insights is a bi-weekly podcast sponsored by Century Wealth Management and the Society of Entrepreneurs. In each episode, Jay Healy and Pearson Crutcher sit down with accomplished business owners and entrepreneurs from Memphis, as they share insights and narratives from their journey to success.
Johnny Pitts (S5E3)
Are you in the top 20% or the top 2%? Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance Managing Partner Johnny Pitts, a Higginbotham Partner and founder of CityCURRENT, explores how you can rise into the top 2% in all of your endeavors. As a born and raised Memphian, Johnny is very passionate about enriching, engaging, and impacting the community. We hope that you enjoy this conversation about Johnny’s entrepreneurial journey and passion for “powering the good”.
David Wedaman (S5E2)
David Wedaman is the Founder and Former CEO at Re Transportation. He attended The University of Memphis.
In 2002, David Wedaman and a handful of employees started ReTrans. ReTrans is an intermodal marketing company that moves freight throughout the United States, with it’s primary focus on intermodal transportation.
David’s charitable work includes, but is not limited to: Board of Directors of Lifeblood Foundation; Advisory Board for Catholic High; Past Chairman of the Intermodal Association of North America; Past Board member of Youth Villages; Board of Directors for CMUST, Catholic Memphis Urban School Trust (the Financial Board that manages the foundation which was established to fund the Jubilee Schools and the Board of Directors for the BlueStreak Scholarship Fund which is a more “grass roots” fundraising group which funds scholarships of the Jubilee Schools.
Susan Stephenson (S5E1)
Susan Stephenson is a passionate Memphian, proud mom of four, and grandmother of 12 perfect grandchildren. This is her 44th year in banking—the last 25 years at independent bank (i-bank) the company her partner and she founded in 1998. She serves on several local boards, including the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, and New Memphis Institute, and is the current President of the Society of Entrepreneurs.
A Panel Presentation On Protecting Your Brand
The Society of Entrepreneurs and Epicenter Memphis recently presented “Protecting Your Brand”, a panel on harnessing your skills to bring the best product to your customer while also knowing when to say no to protect the integrity of your brand. This panel features Susan Stephenson of Independent Bank, Shannon Briggs of Campfire Collective, Lisa Toro of City & State, Bartholomew Jones of Cxffeeblack, and our moderator Mike Bruns, retired Founder of Comtrak Logistics. We hope that you will enjoy this podcast featuring this very informative presentation.
Susan Stephenson is a passionate Memphian, proud mom of four and grandmother of 12 perfect grandchildren. This is her 44th year in banking—the last 25 years at independent bank (i-bank) the company her partner and she founded in 1998. She serves on several local boards, including the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, New Memphis Institute, and is the current President of the Society of Entrepreneurs.
Shannon Briggs is the founder and head trailblazer for Campfire Collective, a Memphis-based agency that specializes in igniting marketing and public relations campaigns for community-based organizations. Shannon serves on the board of the DeNeuville Learning Center for Women, Shelby County Drug Court Foundation, and East Buntyn ArtWalk. She is a graduate of Leadership Memphis and is an active member of the Greater Memphis Chamber ambassador program, The Society of Entrepreneurs Insights Group, and PRSA Memphis. Additionally, she was named the "2022 PR Executive of the Year" by PRSA Memphis and is a member of the 2023 Memphis Business Journal's 40 Under 40 class.
With over 20 years of experience and expertise in brand development and digital marketing, Lisa Toro has helped numerous organizations and businesses, including her own, craft their unique brand identities. Her expertise lies in developing comprehensive strategies that go beyond aesthetics and logos, delving deep into the essence of a brand and its authentic expression.
In addition to her professional achievements, Lisa is deeply committed to giving back to her community. She actively mentors aspiring entrepreneurs, helping them develop their skills and nurturing the next generation of small businesses. Her dedication to fostering growth and empowering others has earned her respect and admiration from fellow business owners and mentees alike.
Bartholomew Jones is an educator, emcee, avid coffee nerd, and native Memphian. He is also the co-founder of cxffeeblack, a renowned thought leader in matters regarding the African origins and diasporic future of coffee, and a key creative disruptor within the specialty coffee industry.
Bartholomew Jones, along with his wife Renata, intended to reinstate the origin, purpose, and integrity of cxffee through the knowledge of its Black history and being a part of its Black future, creating Cxffeeblack. As the movement, Cxffeblack, continues to press forward to educate community about the history of cxffee through the lens of Blackness; it also seeks to inspire the uniqueness, authenticity, and future of Black people.
Links to items mentioned in the interview:
City and State
Society of Entrepreneurs
From his earliest recollections Chris Bird was always interested in business, commerce and sales-from operating drink stands by the neighborhood tennis court to advertising his lawn mowing business on white match book cases with a rubber stamp with his contact information. In college, Chris even started 1520 Enterprises Unlimited to loan money to friends who were short on funds pending payday or mom and dad’s deposit. Although unincorporated and unlicensed that business was very similar to today’s payday and title loan businesses.
After college, at this grandfather’s urging, Chris studied for and passed the life insurance licensing exam. With the desire to be his own boss driving him, he left that business and started a series of businesses-Microcomputer Consulting Associates, consulting and custom software design; Lido Development, LLC-buying, improving, developing and selling real property and Spec-Tech architectural consulting. (Notable local projects included Peabody Place, Target House and FedExForum)
In 1999, Chris was asked to consider purchasing Delta Door and Hardware Co. by its owners and spent a year inside the company working towards that goal. In 2000, at a meeting of Memphis Rotary, John Dillard told Chris he wanted to retire. Chris formed an agreement with John Dillard, Jr that he would form a new corporation that in two years would purchase the assets of the existing Dillard Door & Specialty Co. Chris took $75K in savings and a personal note from JD to capitalize the new corporation Dillard Door & Security, Inc. At the time of purchase, the company had 12 employees and was doing about 2 million in revenue. In 5 years the company had grown to about 50 employees and 6 million in revenue. In 2008, the security portion of the business had become large enough that they started a separate company Dillard Security Services, LLC to better handle the needs of the security business.
While the recession years took its toll on new construction related businesses, the security and service sector of our business continued to thrive and produce more than 8mil in revenue and both are climbing.
In 2013, due to the increased amount of business done with law enforcement entities, a Federal Firearms License was procured to offer firearms, as well as other security services, to law enforcement contacts. DSS Firearms, LLC is now almost a stand-alone business.
In 2018, Dillard Door acquired Tri-State Glass, a 60 year old, family owned business that had a large portion of its revenue from Dillard. This is coming full circle because when John Dillard, Sr. started his business in 1947 it was called Southern Glass and evolved from just glass to what Dillard Door & Security, Inc. is today.
Chris Bird is actively involved in various church and community organizations including the Memphis Rotary Club Board, Regional One Health Foundation Board of Directors, Calvary Episcopal Church Vestry, Door and Hardware Institute, the Construction Specifications Institute, Morrison Architectural Scholarship Fund at UofM, Memphis Heritage Board, NFIB State Leadership Council and Crime Stoppers. Links to items mentioned in the interview:
Dillard Door and Security, Inc.
Memphis Rotary Club
Mid-South Employer Resource Network
Live at the Garden
Auto Zone Liberty Bowl
Society of Entrepreneurs
The Rotary "4-Way Test" has become an important fixture in Rotary- guiding Rotarians in their personal lives as well as in their professional lives.
It asks the following four questions: "Of the things we think, say or do:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"
Frank Cianciola (S4E6)
Frank J. Cianciola serves as Founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Banc3 Holdings, Inc. He began his financial services career at Union Planters in 1973 and from 1984-1992 he held a variety of executive positions with Commerce Union Bank (C&S Sovran). From 1992-1995, Cianciola served as CFO of The Memphis Group, Inc., a $60 million aerospace company. In 1995, he became CEO of Victory Bank and Trust, followed by his role as Founder, CEO and Chairman of Renasant Bank. Frank served on the publicly held Renasant (RNST) Bank’s Board from 2004 – 2009. Most recently, he served as Chairman and Vice Chairman of Metropolitan Bank.
Cianciola holds a Master of Science degree in Finance from The University of Memphis. He is a graduate of The Graduate School of International Banking (University of Virginia), The Graduate School of Commercial Lending (University of Oklahoma) and The Effective Executive Program (The Wharton School). Frank Cianciola has been Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Economics at the University of Memphis.
Cianciola is a past President of the Economic Club of Memphis; Regent at the Barrett School of Banking; served on the Leadership Council for Youth Villages and was the 2015 Chairperson for the Signature Chefs Annual fundraiser for the March of Dimes. Frank Cianciola is also involved with the Wolf River Conservancy, Church of the Holy Apostles and is a graduate of Leadership Memphis.
Links to items mentioned in the interview:
Economic Club of Memphis
University of Memphis
Society of Entrepreneurs
I’m really enjoying this podcast and learning more about my adopted city and the people who have dedicated their lives to making it a better place, whether through providing excellent workplace environments, spearheading charitable organizations, or simply supporting the causes that exist to make Memphis a stronger and more inviting place to live. One question Pearson and Jay ask all of their entrepreneur guests is if they believe there are certain traits they and their fellow entrepreneurs have in common. What none of them have said, but I have certainly noticed: they are all talented speakers and storytellers. These interviews are not only enlightening, they’re super interesting to listen to. Keep up the good work!
Enjoyed the podcast
I’m not a business person, but am a Memphian. I think Duncan Williams sets the bar high for other businesses in Memphis through his and his company’s strong commitment to the community. Loved hearing about his great admiration for his mom and her dedication to the company after the loss of her husband. Did not know D-W, Inc. was a minority owned biz- fun fact to learn through this podcast. Thanks to the Society of Entrepreneurs for getting this story out. Can’t wait to hear the next podcast!
I really enjoyed Duncan, Pearson, and Jay! This was informative and entertaining. I look forward to hearing more from Memphis’ entrepreneurs.