TAEBC founding board member, Dan Hurst of Strata-G, sells company to employees

Dan Hurst, CEO and Founder of Knoxville-based Strata-G, has sold his company to two of his longtime vice presidents. Elliott Barnett will assume the position of CEO, and John Patterson will serve as president. Strata-G is a valued member of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, while Hurst is a founding board member.

“These guys that have been with us 15 years are natural leaders, they know our business, they’ve built and are committed to our culture,” Hurst told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “We just had to figure out the right financial mechanism and details of business to make it work, and we did. I think we’ve done it in a way that we’re proud of each other for and thankful a lot for.”

Hurst founded the small business with senior engineer Darrell Daugherty in 2002. The engineering firm now has 250 employees and is ranked as the largest veteran-owned business in East Tennessee by the Knoxville News Sentinel‘s Book of Lists. Last year, Strata-G was named the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Dream Big Small Business of the Year

This sale has been a couple years in the making and will allow Hurst to focus most of his time on long-term strategy and outreach, while Daugherty will still serve as lead engineer until a new successor is appointed. 

“Succession is a fun word,” Hurst said. “We’re all succeeding together, and we’re doing it by them not kicking us over the hill; that’s in our benefit and theirs. The fact that we’ve got a path that lets all that ‘juice’ stay in the company, I think, is useful.”

TAEBC awarded Hurst the annual Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award during the Annual Meeting on March 5, 2020, at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub. The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

“As a founding board member of TAEBC, Dan Hurst embodies the qualities of a servant leader,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “His dedication and commitment to building a new organization that represents an entire industry that makes Tennessee a better state in which to live, work and play is truly admirable. That same vision and devotion have enabled Dan to lead and grow a successful business in East Tennessee that embraces energy innovation, environmental stewardship and sustainability.”

To learn more about Strata-G and its commitment to pursuing advanced energy projects that improve Tennessee’s communities, contribute to the state’s advanced energy economy, and ensure the wellbeing of Tennesseans, click here.

Strata-G honored by U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a Dream Big Awards Finalist

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced Knoxville-based Strata-G as one of three finalists for its annual Dream Big Awards. The Awards, presented by MetLife, celebrate the achievements of small businesses and honor their contributions to America’s economic growth.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Their grit, determination, and generosity give real meaning to the term free enterprise. When small businesses thrive, our communities prosper, and that’s good for everyone,” said Tom Sullivan, U.S. Chamber vice president of small business policy. “The U.S. Chamber is proud to honor small businesses who inspire themselves and others to dream big through their actions, contributions, and leadership.”

“We are honored by our selection as one of three Dream Big Award finalists,” said Strata-G President, Dan Hurst. “It’s a testament to our professional staff of more than 200 scientists, engineers, health and safety experts, and project managers who practice our core values of integrity, service, and quality each day. We appreciate the U.S. Chamber’s recognition.”

Award winners will be announced at the Dream Big Awards Gala on Wednesday, October 16, in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Strata-G is a team of engineers, scientists, safety professionals and project managers dedicated to the responsible care of client-entrusted resources in the environmental, energy, defense, utilities and infrastructure sectors.

Energy Mentor Network Spotlight: Dan Hurst

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is continuing its series of feature stories highlighting the mentors behind the Energy Mentor Network program offering industry specific expertise.

The Energy Mentor Network‘s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. This gives Tennessee yet another advantage in grabbing its more than fair share of the $1.4 trillion global advanced energy market.

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

In broad strokes, the Energy Mentor Network pairs mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions.

The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups. After completing the program, startups will have an investable pitch deck, a rock solid business model and a plan to establish more traction. These tools will position Tennessee’s entrepreneurs to raise capital, request other funds like SBIR grants, and scale their company.

This week TAEBC is highlighting Dan Hurst, president and founder of Strata-G, LLC. Dan has more than thirty years of environmental, energy and entrepreneurial experience, and he has led several startup service businesses. He has provided technical consulting and managed people and projects in the areas of environmental, safety, nuclear, and utility services for numerous federal, public utility, and commercial clients.

Under Dan’s leadership, Strata-G has grown to almost 200 professionals and has been recognized with four small-business-of-the-year awards, two Pinnacle Award finalist nominations for business excellence by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, and the Innovation Valley Navigator Award for community service.

Dan has an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from the MIT Sloan School of Business and a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Tennessee, where he serves on the Board of Advisors for Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is the 2007 recipient of the Biosystems Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2012 TN Veterans Business Bravo-Zulu Award, and the 2015 East TN Economic Council Muddy Boot Award. Dan is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and received commendations as a Division Officer and Instructor in the Naval Nuclear Power Program. Dan currently chairs the boards of the West Knox Utility District and Knox Area Rescue Ministries.

TAEBC is continuing to accept mentors for the Energy Mentor Program. If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit the “For Mentors” section of the Energy Mentor Network portion of TAEBC’s website.

It’s a Wrap: TAEBC Completes Filming of Advanced Energy Video Series

TAEBC has been busy the past two months, traveling across the region to film the organization’s first video series. Thanks to the sponsorship of TAEBC Charter members, Silicon Ranch Corporation, Oak Ridge National Lab and Strata-G, three videos were filmed in April and May.

Dan Hurst

Strata-G President Dan Hurst, a TAEBC video sponsor, on set at Maryville College.

The videos take an up close look at the advanced energy sector. Titled “This is Advanced Energy,” “Inside Advanced Energy” and “Innovations in Advanced Energy,” the series features interviews with TAEBC member organizations along with action footage of production, research and development.

TAEBC kicked off filming with an interview at TAEBC Charter member, PYA. Past President Tom Ballard provided insight on what makes Tennessee rich in advanced energy resources and why the industry is a leading economic driver for the state.

TAEBC spent a day at Oak Ridge National Lab, capturing scientific and development aspects of advanced energy and how a concept moves from the idea phase to research to production. ORNL will be the focus of the third video in the series, “Innovations in Advanced Energy.”

While in Middle Tennessee, TAEBC filmed with TAEBC member, Bridgestone, learning about the company’s commitment to energy efficiency in tire production. TAEBC also spent time with TAEBC member, Schneider Electric, taking an in-depth look at microgrid development. TAEBC wrapped up its Nashville area tour at Silicon Ranch Corporation headquarters, hearing about solar advancements in Tennessee.

Matt Kisber

Behind the scenes filming at Silicon Ranch in Nashville. Silicon Ranch is a TAEBC video sponsor.

We traveled to Vonore and visited with TAEBC member, Genera Energy, taking a closer look at biomass processing and switchgrass production. Strata-G hosted TAEBC at the site of one of its energy efficient buildings on the Maryville College campus and also took the camera along for a trip to its natural gas fueling stations in Sevier County.

Other members participating in the production include TAEBC members, Clean Line Energy and PHG Energy, who supplied footage to be included in the video series.

Thank you to all members for making the filming possible. TAEBC will provide sneak peeks and first looks throughout the year in the newsletter and on all social media channels. Photos and video clips are available on the Flickr and YouTube accounts.

The videos are anticipated to be ready for preview in early fall. A launch party is planned for all members and participants. It’s an exciting time to be a TAEBC member. Watch the e-news for more updates and information including a save the date preview invite.

Guest Blog: TAEBC board president Tom Ballard answers, “What is TAEBC?”

Tom Ballard

Tom Ballard

By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, and President of the Board of Directors, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

The name of our organization – Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council – is a mouthful, and our acronym – TAEBC – does not roll off the tongue easily.

Nevertheless, no one would question the important role that this new, statewide not-for-profit organization plays in advancing the interests of a burgeoning and important contributor to the Volunteer State’s economy.

From Renewable Algal Energy in Johnson City to the Memphis Bioworks Foundation about 550 miles to the west, Tennessee is home to a vast array of established commercial entities, research organizations, and start-ups focused on technologies that contribute to our nation’s energy independence.

TAEBC takes a broad definitional view of the term “advanced energy.” As such, we are pleased to include as members and partners global players like Alstom (nuclear energy) and Schneider Electric (energy management), technology start-ups like Silicon Ranch Corporation (solar) and Top Five Corporation (composites), top research organizations like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and energy consulting firms like Strata-G.

As Tennessee’s only organization focused solely on companies in the advanced energy space, TAEBC has established a strong track record in its formative two years.

  • We worked with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Pathway Lending to produce Tennessee’s Advanced Energy Asset Inventory, the first document of its kind dedicated to promoting the use of advanced energy technologies and assisting the development of Tennessee businesses in the emerging advanced energy sector.
  • We held three listening sessions – one each in Chattanooga, Knoxville and LaVergne – that drew more than 150 participants. During two of these sessions, we facilitated vibrant feedback sessions with top administrators from the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • We have partnered with the Energy Foundation to capitalize on that organization’s strong network and draw on its history of “best practices.”

In the months ahead, we will be hosting additional listening sessions, including West Tennessee, as we focus on understanding how to best serve this important industry sector.

You don’t have to be directly in advanced energy to be a member of TAEBC; certainly my employer is not. PYA does believe that technology advancements are critical to our state’s economy. If you share similar views, I invite you to join our organization and become an advanced energy evangelist. It’s as simple as clicking here.

Pershing Yoakley & Associates is the nation’s 10th largest privately held healthcare consulting company. Headquartered in Knoxville, PYA also has offices in Atlanta, Kansas City, Nashville, and Tampa. Tom Ballard is Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives for PYA and also Chief Operating Officer of PYA Analytics, LLC. The author has retired twice – from the University of Tennessee as Vice President for Public and Governmental Relations and from Oak Ridge National Laboratory as Director of Partnerships.