By Samuel X. Cicci

Trinette Johnson-Williams’ passion for building stretches back to when she was just seven years old. The Canton, Mississippi, native —  inspired by an episode of Little Rascals — decided to build a go-kart. From there, she didn’t look back; that endeavor kickstarted a long-held interest in creating things from scratch. Now, Johnson-Williams has utilized her innate creativity to start her own business.

TJ Builds stands out as one of very few women and black-owned businesses in the local construction industry. “I want to use TJ Builds as a medium to help forge new paths for women in the construction industry and as a starting point for developing a support network for other entrepreneurs,” Johnson-Williams says.

Her goal is backed up by an impressive resume that includes experience with GLE Associates, FedEx, and Grinder Haizlip Construction. Despite working in a male-dominated field, Johnson Williams didn’t have any doubts about being able to succeed in the industry and continues to provide quality services to clients.

No project is too much for Johnson-Williams; on a list of services on her website, she recounts the first time she was asked to build a custom closet. “My first custom closet client started our relationship with a simple question: ‘Can you do a closet?’ Well, why not?” TJ Builds designs, constructs, and installs custom small and large-scale woodwork projects like furniture and closets. In addition, Johnson-Williams uses her extensive construction experience to help those with less knowledge of the field by offering site management and owner representation for various projects.

Visit for more information.


– Memphis-area nonprofit Epicenter has raised $40 million to support entrepreneurs in the region, bolstered by an initial grant commitment of $10 million by FedEx Corp.

Intended to incentivize other local donors to also invest in programs and partners that serve entrepreneurs and small business owners, FedEx Corp. committed to a $10 million Challenge Grant to Epicenter dependent on a $30 million match. The $40 million in local investment from philanthropic foundations, economic development organizations, corporations, financial institutions, and individuals is being used in a number of ways, including to pilot and scale innovative entrepreneurial programming, provide capital resources directly to entrepreneurs, support local partner organizations that serve entrepreneurs, and add industry experts and infrastructure that support the local entrepreneurial community and culture.

Local fundraising efforts are being leveraged to attract additional funding from outside of the region. Epicenter’s ultimate goal is to raise $100 million to fuel a 10-year strategy that is already generating resources in and access to capital, talent, local customers, and technology commercialization.

“The momentum created by the FedEx Challenge Grant has activated critical financial support from philanthropic leaders, legacy founders, and other corporate partners for local entrepreneurs through Epicenter,” said David Waddell, Epicenter board chair; president, CEO, and chief investment strategist at Waddell and Associates; and columnist for Inside Memphis Business. “These contributions set the tone for our ambitious economic development goals and broadcasts to entrepreneurs and investors here and outside of the region that Memphis is investible.”

– Amazon is hiring to fill more than 1,500 full-time and part-time positions at their distribution center and sortation center, both in Southeast Memphis. Open positions at the sortation center can be found online while open positions at the receive center will be listed starting October 2. Interested candidates can apply online at

The Memphis Distribution Center has 800-plus full-time positions open with hiring beginning October 2. The Memphis Sortation Center has 700-plus part-time positions open.

Candidates must be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent to be considered. All candidates should apply online where they will indicate a shift preference and select an appointment time to attend an upcoming hiring event and orientation. Shift schedules will vary. Veterans and military spouses are encouraged to apply.

Amazon associates receive competitive wages and comprehensive benefits. Full-time associates benefits include healthcare from day one, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave, 401(k) and company stock awards. Amazon also offers hourly employees its Career Choice program that pre-pays 95 percent of the cost of tuition for employees to pursue courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.


– Bridge Builders vice president Dana Wilson will be the next president and chief executive officer of BRIDGES, the Memphis youth leadership development organization. Wilson, a past winner of an Inside Memphis Business’ Innovation Award, will succeed current president and CEO Cynthia Ham. Read more in Wayne Risher’s story in the Daily Memphian here.

– Memphis ranked No. 10 on a list that examined the 268 largest U.S. cities to determine where $1 million would go the farthest during retirement. Read Mary Cashiola’s story in the Memphis Business Journal here.


Inside Memphis Business magazine honors the very best in local innovation over the past year with an awards breakfast and a launch event for our October/November issue.

Our judges did not have an easy time of it with so many worthy efforts going on in town. The honorees for 2018 include: Van Turner of Memphis Greenspace, Gebre Waddell of Sound Credit, Michael Dyer, PhD, and Alberto Pappo, MD with the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Childhood Solid Tumor Network, and Brian Booker with One Step Initiative & Global Pathways to Success.

Join us for our Innovation Awards breakfast next Thursday, October 4th, at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn on Central Avenue in Memphis. Tickets are $20 each, and include breakfast and coffee. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. with a buffet breakfast, and our program will begin promptly at 8:15 a.m.

The event is co-hosted by the University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business and Economics. Sponsors are Orion Federal Credit Union, Novatech, and Travelennium.

You can purchase tickets 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.

– Trezevant announced three additions to its team: Don Selheimer (chief financial officer), Terri Palmore (director of nursing), and Linda Redden (controller).

– Two A2H principals have moved into senior leadership roles: Logan E. Meeks(president) and Pat Harcourt (chief executive officer).

– ANF Architects hired Christopher Stone as an architect and promoted Leigh Barker to project manager. The firm was also awarded First Place in the 2018 Vision Design Awards for Educational Design.

– The Construction Lawyers Society of America recognized Stites & Harbison, PLLC with the 2018 CLSA Law Firm Award.

– Hollywood Feed has added same-day delivery service in Memphis.

– John V. Cox, an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, was awarded a $600,000 grant for further research into chlamydia pathogenesis.


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: Lisa Krupicka. Member of Burch, Porter & Johnson, PLLC. Practice concentrates on employment litigation and business advising. Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Named to The Best Lawyers in America (2017 Memphis Management Employment Lawyer of the Year), “Top 100 Lawyers in Tennessee” in Mid-South Super Lawyers. Named to Chambers USA’s America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Former board member, Memphis Bar Association; former chair of Labor & Employment Section. Board and Executive Committee member, National Civil Rights Museum.

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.