James W. Reel

James W. Reel
2002 Outstanding Alumni


A sense of adventure and entrepreneurial spirit that first developed during his time at East Tennessee State University has been the guiding force in James W. Reel's life. His extreme work ethic and dedication to his craft has catapulted Reel to the forefront of the business world. While in college, Reel was very active in campus groups including Lambda Chi Alpha, Alpha Phi Omega, and Gamma Theta Epsilon fraternities. Reel was a charter member and officer in the ETSC Geology Club. Besides having fun in extracurricular activities, Reel found a fun way to work while he was in school. He was hired at WJHL-TV 11 to work afternoons and evenings as a projectionist. The station was also airing a children's program in which they hired Reel to play a cowboy/puppeteer named "Dallas."

A few years after graduation, Reel decided to tackle another one of his dreams . . . to become an attorney. He was accepted at the Woodrow Wilson College of Law, where he earned his degree in 1976. He founded his first business, Insurance Publishing and Computers, Inc., in 1980 in Norcross, Ga. The business started as a publishing company but seeing the future was in computers, Reel, bold enough to take a chance, changed the focus of the business. Reel designed software for insurance representatives to use in the field for needs analysis and interest sensitive product illustration programs in English, French and Spanish. This software has been used throughout the United States, Canada, and South America. He installed his system to over 70,000 computers in the field and is known as the "Father of the hand-held computer" in the insurance industry. He sold this company in 1983, and co-founded ICM Corporation in 1985. Reel started with two employees (including himself) and the first year did a little over $100,000 in revenues. The company has grown to 90 employees and over $150 million in revenues.

Never to become stagnant in his business opportunities, Reel later expanded his vertical markets from the insurance industry to include portable computer technologies to aid telecos, utilities, gas, service industries and law enforcement.

Last year, ICM implemented over 33,000 computer packages installed in teleco service vehicles, which was the largest rollout of this type in the world. For a small company, this was quite a feat. In 1991, Inc. 500 ranked International Computer Marketing Corporation #32 as one of the fastest growing companies. In 2000, Var 500 ranked ICM as the 8th fastest growing company in the nation.

Reel's business activities include the National Advisory Board for Zenith Data Systems, participating in the National CEO Industry "Technology Barometer" panel for PricewaterhouseCoopers. He was the Chairman for the State of Georgia for the American Society of Pension Actuaries and a registered representative for NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers).

While climbing the corporate ladder, Reel has not forgotten his alma mater or his community. He has served as the ETSU National Alumni Association's president and was a member of the board for eight years. He was the co-founder of ETSU's Committee of 1000, a million dollar scholarship endowment. He is a member of the ETSU Foundation, participates on the College of Business Advisory Board, Distinguished President's Trust Silver Society, lectured to ETSU students last year during the "Alumni Return to the Classroom" program held during Homecoming and is serving on the ETSU's Roan Scholars Leadership Program Selection Committee.

His civic and social activities include chairing the Lions Club Eye Bank committee, being a member in the Jaycees, a Neighborhood Commissioner for the Boy Scouts of America, and a board member for the local Rescue Squad. Reel worked with the deaf community in the Episcopal Church and was a Lay Reader and Sunday school teacher. He was also a charter member and officer for a local Toastmasters Club.

Reel and his wife Anne (Class of 1966), have one daughter, Susanne. The couple own homes in Atlanta and Jonesborough, in addition to a farm in Virginia.