ETSU College of Business and Technology inducts Hall of Fame members


JOHNSON CITY (October 30, 2014) — The East Tennessee State University College of Business and Technology inducted the following members into its Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Oct. 30, at Millennium Centre.

Tennessee’s U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander was a special guest.

The Lifetime Achievement in Business Award is presented to alumni of the College of Business and Technology who have recorded significant accomplishments in business or public service, and have demonstrated exemplary service to the community and a commitment to the college and university.

Darrell Cole, a native of Russell County, Va., earned his M.B.A. degree at East Tennessee State University in 1993.

He was hired in 1976 by United Supply Co., a small start-up company in need of young employees.  Through judicious acquisitions and mergers, the start-up has become the largest provider of products and services to energy-related businesses in North America.

Today, Cole is president and chief executive officer of Bristol-based United Distribution Group, a distribution services company focused on the gas, oil and mining industries, with over 2,100 manufacturing partners and 170,000 line items. The company has subsidiaries in 81 locations, with 850 employees throughout North America.  

Judy Morrell Flynn graduated from ETSU in 1973 with a degree in business education. In 1981, she returned to her home town of Knoxville, began working in the court system, and married her late husband, Frank L. Flynn, Jr., a partner in the law firm of Pryor, Flynn, Priest and Harber.

Now, 33 years later, she is still working as a judicial administrative assistant in Circuit Court Division I for Knox County and the 6th Judicial District of Tennessee.

Randal R. Greene graduated with a B.B.A. from East Tennessee State University in 1984 and entered a career in banking and eventually became regional president of State of Franklin Bank, a division of Jefferson Federal Bank in Johnson City.

In the fall of 2011, he turned his attention to Virginia, becoming president and chief executive officer of the Bank of Lancaster and of Bay Banks of Virginia, and he also serves on the banks’ boards of directors. In addition, he is vice chairman and director of Bay Trust Company.

During his first year with the Virginia banks, revenue and expense reduction initiatives exceeded $2.5 million. The company has also aggressively improved asset quality. The improvement in the bank’s earnings positioned the bank to complete a $9.4 million private placement of its common stock.

The Excellence in Business Award is presented to individuals whose work has brought distinction to the College of Business and Technology. Although they do not need to be ETSU graduates, recipients must have significant accomplishments in business or technology, exemplary service to the community, and a demonstrated commitment to the College of Business and Technology and East Tennessee State University.  

Lt. Col. Daniel Bishop is well known on campus as the chair of the ETSU Department of Military Science from 2012-2014.

In 1996, Bishop graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara and was commissioned through that school’s ROTC program.   

He served as Tank Platoon Leader and Company Executive in Friedberg, Germany from 1997-2000, and then transitioned to the Military Intelligence Corps, assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, and was deployed as a company commander to Baghdad, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II from 2004-2005.

In 2007, he was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C., where he assumed increasing responsibilities in the Joint Operations Command, including overseeing human intelligence, counterintelligence and detention operations. During this time he was deployed to Iraq multiple times.

Bishop’s next assignment was his service leading the Army ROTC program at ETSU. He has since taken command of the 308th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Meade, Maryland, responsible for Army counterintelligence across the continental United States.

Tammy Hawes graduated in 1983 from East Tennessee State University as one of the first female computer science majors at the school.

Eventually, she became vice president of Smith Seckman Reid engineering firm, and, in 2011, she was deeply involved in spinning off a new software product to Primex Wireless, built using the platform.

Sensing the time was right to start her own business, Hawes founded Virsys 12 as a consulting firm and worked from her kitchen table. By January 2013, Hawes had acquired a team of eight certified Salesforce consultants, a partner, and a suite of offices in the health care corridor of Maryland Farms in Brentwood, just outside Nashville.

In late 2013, Virsys 12 was awarded the NEXT Award as Startup Company of the Year, presented by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, in recognition of the company’s triple-digit growth. Over the past year, Virsys12 has grown another 100 percent. In addition, Virsys12 was nominated this year for the Nashville Business Journal’s “Best in Business Award,” while Hawes was nominated as a 2014 “Woman of Influence.”

Clem Wilkes, Jr. received his bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University in 1975. He is co-manager of Citizens Investment Services, a subsidiary of Citizens Bank, with over 30 years of experience as an investment manager and financial advisor.

In 1985, Wilkes and a partner established the first office in Tennessee of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., then known as Robert Thomas Securities, Inc. The firm offered full-service investment services to clients on a discount basis.

The business prospered, rivaling businesses in larger cities in level of production and number of financial advisors. In 1999, the partners sold the business to Citizens Bank, but they continue to serve clients while also managing the investment platform for Citizens Bank, clearing through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.

The Business Horizon Award is presented to graduates of the ETSU College of Business and Technology who are establishing noteworthy careers and displaying significant accomplishments in business as well as a commitment to the college and the university.

Kanishka Biddanda started his college education at the University of Tennessee, but after two years, he decided he needed a change and came to East Tennessee State University, with the new Advanced Visualization Laboratory, while keeping his company going.

After graduation in 2001, he and a partner began an ad agency and made a list of 15 clients they would like to sign—a goal they reached in nine months. Eventually, the client list became so large that Biddanda pared it back to a “boutique” agency with 20 clients.

In addition, Biddanda and two partners began assisting with the revitalization of downtown Kingsport by renovating buildings from the early 1900s and founding two restaurants. One was Bone Fire Smokehouse, a barbecue restaurant with a gourmet twist, and the other was Kingsport Grocery Company, featuring 210 craft beers.

Biddanda recently stepped down as executive director of AccelNow, one of nine business accelerators established across the state by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. He is now moving to Nashville, without a plan, for once, to see what, among the many opportunities in that city, he would like to pursue next.

Casey Hammontree received a B.B.A. degree in finance from East Tennessee State University in 1998. In 2004, he earned his Master of Business Administration degree at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 2005, he joined Tenth Street Capital at its inception and became a partner in 2007. He is responsible for deal sourcing, underwriting and portfolio management. To date, the company has raised $350 million across six private equity funds.

In addition, Hammontree is a founding partner of Solas BioVentures, a biotechnology and medical device venture capital fund.

Peter Raber earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Emory and Henry College in 2003. He added a Master of Business Administration degree from East Tennessee State University in 2006, by taking classes at night.

Raber began his career when he was 10 years old by helping out around his father’s office after his father established Aldebaran Financial in 1991. He worked for the company every summer locally, or as an intern in Charleston, W.Va., with one of the primary service providers. He began as a full-time employee immediately after his graduation from Emory and Henry and is now senior vice president of operations and chief compliance officer.

For further information, contact the ETSU College of Business and Technology at 423-439-5300.

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