By Samuel X. Cicci

The combination of innovation and active contributions to the community has been good for ER2.

The tech recycling company found a niche in dealing with older technology pushed aside by the shiny new things constantly coming onto the market.

ER2 recycles businesses’ old IT equipment by refurbishing it and then making it available for online resale at an affordable price. Its efforts garnered acclaim at The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) awards held in Boston earlier this month. ICIC recognized ER2 for its growth rate of more than 333 percent from 2013-2017, making it the 26th fastest growing urban business in the United States. Its revenue in 2017 was recorded at $9.3 million. When ranking businesses, the ICIC takes into consideration multiple factors, including innovative business practices, job creation in urban areas, and leaders who are entrepreneurial role models.

CEO Chris Ko and managing partner Rick Krug founded ER2 in 2011, and the business employs 70 workers in its locations in Memphis and Mesa, Arizona. Its treatment of employees kept the awards rolling in this year, with ER2 also receiving the Chevron Dorothy A. Terrell Community Impact Award. The award recognized ER2’s Memphis facility for its commitment to creating a work environment that promotes both personal and professional development of its employees.

For more on ER2, see the story that ran in Inside Memphis Business last year here.


– The cost of many products used in construction climbed 7.4 percent over the past year due to double digit increases in commonly-used construction materials, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new Labor Department data. Association officials noted that the cost increases come as many construction firms are already grappling with shortages of skilled craftsmen essential for projects but have limited ability to increase prices for their services. “The new construction materials cost data likely under-reports actual price increases, since federal officials collected most of their data in the first half of the month, before new tariffs affecting many construction materials started,” said the association’s chief economist, Ken Simonson. “Contractors are paying more for the materials they use and workers they employ but aren’t able to pass most of those new costs on to their clients.”

– MagnifyMoney released a report that ranks 50 of the biggest metro areas according to their ratio of student debt to mortgages. Its findings showed that 11 percent of Memphis residents carry higher balances on their student loans than their homes — placing Memphis at No. 4. The survey showed that residents in the Rust Belt and the South regions account for more than 10 percent of borrowers whose student loans exceed mortgages. Some of the metro areas, including Memphis, have some of the cheapest real estate, and therefore the lowest mortgages, in the country.


– An energy firm wants MLGW to ditch TVA. The potential benefits are big as are the risks. Read the Memphis Business Journal’s account here.

Tom Jones’ Smart City Memphis has a detailed look at the possibilities here.

– Levitt Shell executive director Anne Pitts is stepping down after 10 years at the end of 2018. In 2015, Pitts received an Innovation Award from Inside Memphis Business. A search committee is looking for a new leader. Read Elle Perry’s story in the Daily Memphian here.

– A vacant building next to the National Civil Rights Museum will come down and be replaced by the Museum Lofts, a 68-unit apartment building. Read Desiree Stennett’s story in The Commercial Appeal here.


Inside Memphis Business magazine has long been running the Hot Sheet feature of promotions and achievements in local business. We’re now running it in our weekly TipSheet email blast to keep the info more current.

– Special Events Magazine recognized LEO Events as a “Top 50 Event Company” for the third year in a row.

– Lehman-Roberts Co. promoted Steve Lee to trucking manager for its northern operations. Its sister company, Memphis Stone & Gravel Co., promoted Star Lewis to aggregate sales associate.

– David Lenoir has joined CRA Partners and the Senior Crime Prevention Foundation as chairman, CEO, and president.

– Francesca-Fang Liao, a professor in the department of pharmacology at UTHSC, received a $2.6 million grant to continue studying the link between metabolic syndromes and dementia. As of 2018, the Alzheimer’s Association says that 5.7 Americans live with dementia.

– Fogelman Properties expanded its team with the addition of Lori Marada as senior vice president of shared services.


Inside Memphis Business magazine publishes a list of local Power Players every year. These are the movers and shakers in more than 30 categories who get things done in their respective fields. IMB’s April issue has the complete list. We also publish individual categories in other issues throughout the year, and we feature individual Power Players in our weekly Tip Sheet.

This week’s Power Player is Justin Entzminger, executive director, Innovate Memphis. B.A., English, Georgetown University, M.B.A., Entrepreneurship, Massey School of Business, Belmont University. Advisory Committee, Data Governance for City of Memphis. Strategy Advisor, Music Export Memphis. Advisory Committee, Center for Applied Earth Sciences and Engineering Research, U of M. Member, Smart Cities Collaborative, Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Cohort.

For the complete list of Inside Memphis Business Power Players, go here.


Every year, Inside Memphis Business magazine honors four CEOs who have proven to be exemplary in their fields, leading their companies to success on local, regional, national, and international stages.

Nominations for the 2019 CEO of the Year awards are open. Memphis is graced with tremendously talented, inspiring executives in charge of their companies and organizations, and we want to hear from you about the best in the business. Email your nomination to [email protected]com and include the CEO’s resume and a description of why he or she should get the award: vision, achievements, business philosophy, employee relations, management style, special qualities.

We give out four awards in categories according to the number of employees in the companies: 1-50, 50-200, 200-1,000, and 1,000 and up, so include that information as well. The deadline for CEO of the Year is November 16, 2018. When the nominations are in, an impartial panel will consider the nominees and pick one for each category. Each will be notified and interviewed for the February/March 2019 issue of IMB — and each will appear on the cover of the magazine. A breakfast in late January will honor the four CEOs.