John D. Tickle
2005 Honorary Alumni
Strong leadership is the ability to lead, make sound decisions and empower those around you. That ability has helped to make John D. Tickle one of the most well-known business leaders in our region. Tickle is president of Strongwell Corporation which is headquartered in Bristol, Virginia. Strongwell has a total of five plants located throughout the United States, and employs more than 1000 people. He and his family own 100 percent of the company, which is both the largest pultruder of composite structural components and the nation’s largest precaster of polymer concrete structures.
Tickle graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Industrial Engineering in 1965. Before entering UT, Tickle was an active student at East Tennessee State College, taking part in football, as a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and being elected to serve in the student senate. After receiving his degree Tickle went on to be an engineer with Owens Corning in Granville, Ohio, the general manager of Justin Enterprises in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a plant manager with Kruegar Metal Products in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 1972 he was offered the position of President of MMFG (now Strongwell) in Bristol, Tickle’s hometown, so he moved back home.
Tickle took control of the organization, refocused it, made a number of management changes, and it has been profitable in every year of his presidency. In 1993, Tickle with the help of one investor, was able to purchase the company. By 2000, Tickle and the members of his family concluded the buy-out of the outside investor making Strongwell a family business.
Tickle’s service and support of his community is not matched by many. One of his philanthropic accomplishments includes being president and a board member of the Sequoyah Council, Boy Scouts of America. Tickle was himself an Eagle Scout and was awarded the Silver Beaver Award. He has served as chairman of the United Way of Bristol, Bristol Life Saving Crew Campaign Chair, ETSU Foundation board member and served on the advisory board and chairman of the selection committee for ETSU’s Roan Scholars Program.
In 1994, Tickle received the “Outstanding Philanthropist” presented by the Mountain Empire Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. A year later he received the same organization’s “Outstanding Fund Raiser” award. He was honored by election to the Bristol Regional Medical Center’s Citizen Hall of Fame. He has received the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Torchbearer Award for Western Virginia. He was 2000 Laureate—Junior Achievement’s Business Hall of Fame.Tickle lives with his wife Ann Meadlock Tickle in Bristol. The couple has three children, John, Jeffrey and Cindy