Pike indulges ‘museum bug’ as director of Pink Palace

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 20, 2013

Steve Pike, director of museums for the Pink Palace Family of Museums, calls himself a generalist, happy to have his hands in all things theoretical and material. It’s a label that envelopes his interests, his career choices, and going back to his liberal arts education at Marian University in Indianapolis.

Born and raised in Evansville, Ind., he majored in literature with a master’s degree in the field from Temple University in Philadelphia. His first job was teaching at the university before moving into the world of academic publishing, working in marketing and public relations for Temple University Press followed by Princeton University Press.

His shift into the realm of museums began with a job in Washington in the marketing department of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a large, multidisciplinary science association publishing books and magazines.

He got to know people in the building across the street – the National Trust for Historic Preservation – and when they looked to hire their first vice president for development and communications, Pike put his hat in the ring and got the job.

“That’s how I got into museums. It was a wonderful opportunity,” he said. “At that time, the trust had 18 historic house museums around the country.”

From the national trust, he went to work for the membership program of the Smithsonian Institution.

“I guess you could say I got the ‘museum bug’ at the national trust, and then it really became a fatal affliction when I went to the Smithsonian,” he said.

It was while in Washington that he decided he wanted to try running a museum and became director at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. It’s a research museum and quite hidden in the small town of Martinsville, making it difficult to raise money . . . (read more)


Sleepovers offer reprieve for weary parents

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

Dec. 19, 2013

Sleepovers offer parents full reprieve

For those who aren’t raising a “spirited” child, there is no way to understand the power of a simple phone call or text to change the course of a day, if not an entire weekend.

“Can little Susie spend the night?”

It’s the sleepover, that magical night of furlough. It’s as though the governor has called with a full pardon and the noose of parenthood has been lifted from our exhausted necks. The sleepover is what allows us to unbuckle and move about the cabin at will.

My daughter’s name isn’t even “Susie,” but I’m willing to let her go with whomever this is on the other end of the line if it means I can eat dinner out without so much as a glance at the children’s menu, if I can watch prime-time television without interruption, if I can read through an entire chapter of a book without a single footnote of exasperation.

I see all of this as possibility when my wife reads the text and then holds it out to me like the winning lottery ticket, the glow from the phone warm and welcome on my face.

“Who is Susie?” I ask.

“Tonight, our daughter is Susie.”

And we’re off to the races. Or to Overton Square for a cocktail at the newest bar. Or to the opening reception at an art gallery. What do people without such a child do? Movie? Dinner and drinks? Or maybe just sit in my house and listen to so much silence all around me, stream a movie without the buffering of need that presents itself every 10 minutes. Who knew the volume on a television could go down?

What about simultaneous sleepovers with all four children? Let’s not even get my hopes up. The three children left behind are inconsequential in the spirited sense, anyway. Mostly self-sufficient, they can reach the food and operate a microwave with minimal trouble. They’re content with their own books, their own television shows and, truth be told, with the silence granted by those other unselfish parents.

It’s reciprocal on our part as well. We’ve bestowed such child-free nights on others with a simple text requesting their own little Susie’s presence. It is an awesome power to be able to resuscitate another couple’s life and imagine the economic stimulation we’re injecting into the local entertainment economy.

My wife’s phone is scarcely back in her purse before tires screech in the driveway and an urgent knock sounds at the door. We open it to find someone else’s sweet and spirited child on the front porch, a toothbrush dangling from a cord around her neck and pillow under her arm. The parents are already in line for popcorn at the nearest Malco theater.

We don’t blame them; everyone needs a break. It’s hard and tiring work being a parent. And it’s good to be the compassionate governor for a night. We’ll get our turn again in a week. Two weeks? Please?

You never know when the call may come; it’s like a shooting star or a celebrity sighting. It shouldn’t be taken for granted because it could be revoked at any time. Until it comes again, I’ll be reading little Susie a book, singing her a song, telling her a story or . . . was that my phone?

Permanent link to The Commercial Appeal


Dickerson to carry tradition of service as Young Lawyers Division president

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 19, 2013

Jake Dickerson, associate with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, is the incoming 2014 president for the Young Lawyers Division of the Memphis Bar Association.

The division arranges and hosts continuing legal education seminars, networking events, pro bono opportunities and fundraisers such as the annual golf tournament benefiting the Porter Goodwill Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis. MBA members 36 years or younger, or within their first three years of practice, are automatically members of the division.

Dickerson grew up in Memphis and received a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Mississippi. He worked as an admissions recruiter for the school for a year after graduation before entering the law school there.

The idea of a career in law came early in elementary school and was influenced by his grandfather, Tucker Dickerson, an attorney and general sessions judge in Coffee County, Tenn.

“I remember playing with his gavel from when he was a judge when I would go to his house, so I think it was because of him that this was always the career path,” Dickerson said.

After graduation in 2007, he clerked for Judge Jon McCalla, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. He had worked as a summer associate with Baker Donelson during law school and, after finishing his clerkship in August 2008, signed on with the firm.

What area of law to focus on “was a great mystery,” he said. “I knew getting to law school was always in the plan, but beyond that I was pretty ignorant about the options.”

He came to enjoy the general business side of law, and his focus now is on business litigation, representing financial institutions and medical malpractice defense . . . (read more)


APS’ goal: Giving region’s businesses what they need

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 14, 2013

APS Facility Maintenance was founded by Lorenzo Myrick as a janitorial staffing company in 1998.

With 50 employees at the time, the vision was a simple one with the Memphis area as a customer base.

“We never thought of going national, but just staying local,” said company vice president Melissa Myrick.

Lorenzo and Melissa Myrick are president and vice president of APS Facility Maintenance, a company that has grown since being founded in 1998.

(Photo: Andrew J. Breig)

Begun as Amnesty Professional Services, it took a national tragedy – and the subsequent market interruptions and economic tremors – to cause APS to refocus its efforts and expand its scope and mission.

“When 9/11 hit, it almost put us out of business and that’s when we turned to facility maintenance,” Myrick said. “Staffing is not necessarily a need, but keeping your building clean is a need so we went into the mind-set of providing what people need rather than what they want.”

And that need appears to be rampant as the company has grown over the past 15 years to 180 employees working in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Facility maintenance and janitorial providers must be certified in any state they work in, and APS has a wide range of certifications from the state-mandated to that of a minority-owned company with the Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council, the Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum and the Governor’s Office of Diversity Business Enterprise. In addition, they are an 8A certified company authorized to bid on federal projects.

To further fill that need, APS does more than “keeping your building clean” and handles commercial lawn and landscaping services, as well as light construction. “Companies like one-stop-shops,” says Myrick as she ticks off services such as pressure washing, lawn care, window washing, carpet cleaning and water damage restoration, and parking lot striping . . . (read more)


Call to nursing led Burnett to form staffing agency

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 13, 2013

Denise Burnett entered Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., to major in journalism and minor in political science with dreams of joining the Fourth Estate.

It was between semesters, while on a six-week mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya, that her plan and way of life would change thanks to two chaperones, both of whom were nurses.

“In talking with them and getting to know them, I was fascinated,” said Burnett, who joined the nurses on a tour of a hospital where she was able to look in on a surgery. “I was hooked. … I came back and I said, ‘OK, I know what I’m supposed to do.’”

She switched to St. John’s School of Nursing in Springfield and has never looked back.

Originally from California, Burnett moved to Memphis during her high school years with her pastor father, later relocating to the Midwest before college. After nursing school, her husband at the time moved around with his career and Burnett was a nurse in Springfield and Kansas, eventually being transferred to Memphis in 1982.

As a nurse in Memphis, she has worked in almost every hospital. It was in 1988, while working in a temporary capacity in surgery at Saint Francis Hospital, that she met fellow nurse Carol Paterson. The plan for a staffing agency for nurses began to form between the two.

“She said, ‘We can do this, we could have an agency just for surgery because nobody understands it and we could do it better,’” Burnett said.

They started O.R. Nurses Inc. that year, with local contracts from smaller surgery centers as well as Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and Baptist Memorial Hospital. The partners required five years experience from their nurses and went into the hospitals to help train.

“We felt like we were an elite group out there, which we were,” Burnett said.

Paterson died of ovarian cancer within the first two years and, with her friend’s memory and vision, Burnett says she “put it into overdrive and kept moving forward.”

“When you have a patient in surgery, you’re really the patient advocate. It’s a team effort, but at the end of that surgery, when they close the surgical site and you take the patient to the recovery room, you know that whatever it was that had to be done you made a difference, you’ve been able to assist and you’ve helped that patient to the next step of recovery.”

–Denise Burnett

Before establishing their own operating rooms, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital conducted its surgeries at St. Joseph’s Hospital. When that facility closed in the late 1990s, O.R. Nurses helped St. Jude open their own operating rooms . . . (read more)


Marine deployments to Iraq lead Baker to law career

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 12, 2013

At the end of his first semester of college, Josh Baker of Martin Tate Morrow & Marston PC traded in the bright orange of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for the desert khaki of the United States Marine Corps.

The semester of school was a promise to his parents back home in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where Baker grew up.

“They wanted to make sure that that’s (joining the Marines) what I wanted to do,” he said. “Out of respect for them, I said, ‘OK, I’ll go do a semester of college and see if it’s something I still want to do.’”

But serving his country was a dream, and he enlisted in December 2003. It was a dream that would find him deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, immediately following his six months of training. He served there for a year in an artillery battery, seeing the siege of that key city in Operation Phantom Fury, as well as the city’s elections.

“The Marines had made a push that April into Fallujah and then pulled back. … We were there in November for a large buildup; we were a part of that group that essentially took the city,” he said. “It was extremely busy and a very violent deployment – really a very contentious time in the war.”

Upon his return, he took up a far lighter backpack full of textbooks and returned to school, only to be called up again as a reservist in 2008 and sent to the rural town of Rutbah, Iraq. That deployment, he said, was like “night and day.”

“It was much more about interaction and support of the Iraqi people. We focused a lot on infrastructure, on relations with the local government, so it was a real contrast with the 2004 deployment in Fallujah.”

He finished up school at UT in 2009 with degrees in political science and business administration, and worked for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in Washington. While in Iraq, Baker had witnessed two extremes – total lawlessness at one end and the effects of martial law at the other – and would be pulled toward the legal field as a career because of it . . . (read more)


Stites & Harbison brings patent expertise to Bioworks

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 11, 2013

In an effort to enhance expertise in patent cases among U.S. district judges, the 10-year Patent Pilot Program went into effect assigning patent cases to 14 federal district courts in 2011. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee was one of those courts chosen.

Seizing upon this opportunity and to expand on their 240 attorneys in 10 offices in five states, the law offices of Stites & Harbison PLLC has opened in the Bioworks Foundation building in the University of Tennessee-Baptist Research Park in the Medical District. Founded in 1832, it is one of the oldest and largest firms in the Southeast.

“We have existing clients that are either here or do business here, so it was kind of a natural spot to expand for us,” said attorney Richard Myers of the move into Memphis.

The first patent infringement lawsuits in the Western District courts were filed in February 2012 by Stites & Harbison on behalf of client Multilayer Stretch Cling Film Holdings Inc., the maker of the cling film wrapped around goods to keep them secure during shipping.

In addition to the local clients and the Patent Pilot Program was the advantage of attorney Cong “Connie” Ding, “a great combination of our strengths,” said Myers, who is based in Nashville. While “the goal is clearly to have a full-service office,” he continues, right now Ding is the only onsite attorney.

Ding, who has been with the firm for about nine months, had been with Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC, but her background goes much deeper and is an asset to the patent work done by Stites & Harbison. She was a medical doctor at Beijing Xiyuan Hospital in Beijing, China, and moved to the United States and Michigan State University for the Molecular Biology Master’s Program. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital brought her to Memphis as a researcher . . . (read more)


Soulful synergy

The Memphis News cover story

Dec. 7, 2013

Museum, music academy, school creating sweet sounds in Soulville

What happened at the corner of McLemore Avenue and College Street in the 1960s is nothing short of extraordinary.

Students rehearse at Stax Music Academy, a key component in the Soulsville revival.

(Photo: Andrew J. Breig)

At the crossroads of segregated neighborhoods in South Memphis, two white business partners would open the doors wide to whites and blacks alike, who congregated to write and record songs that would set off a soul explosion heard around the world.

What’s happening at that same corner today is too great for Deanie Parker – a Stax Records songwriter, performer and its first African-American salaried employee in 1964 – to squeeze into a single, simple word.

“There are so many great things about what we’ve been able to do in Soulsville, USA,” she said.

The “great things” Parker speaks of are initiatives and revitalization and a vision that has sprung from the site of the old Capitol Records building that would become Satellite Records before Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton joined their names to bring the world Stax Records.

The Ewarton Foundation, a moniker formed from the remaining letters of the founders’ names, was founded in 1998 with a $3 million challenge grant from the Plough Foundation matched by the city of Memphis, Shelby County and the federal government, and a $3 million donation from an anonymous donor.

The mission of the foundation, renamed Soulsville Foundation in 2005, is “to preserve, promote, and celebrate the many unique cultural assets of the Soulsville, USA, neighborhood in Memphis, while supporting the development of new educational and community-building opportunities.”

To that end, there are three components within the Foundation – the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Stax Music Academy and the Soulsville Charter School.

“Soulsville has been a catalyst for community redevelopment and it’s a source of pride for the residents of this neighborhood,” said Mark Wender, CEO of the Soulsville Foundation.

The buttoned-up former bank executive seems an unlikely leader for what might be the funkiest block in the city – and perhaps the world – but Jim Stewart was a banker as well, and Wender’s passion for the vision of the Foundation is limitless.

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music honors the city’s musical past.

(Photo: Andrew J. Breig)

Five acres in the neighborhood, including the site of the original Stax building, was purchased after the foundation’s initial funding. On that site was built a replica of the original theater that would become the museum. It acts as a “beacon,” as Robert Gordon, author of “Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion,” recently called it, and draws people from the world over to see the wall of vinyl records, instruments played by the MGs and others and Isaac Hayes’s gold-trimmed Cadillac.

Once there, says museum director Lisa Allen, the tourists, music enthusiasts and journalists invariably ask about the other buildings on the campus.

“We are the gateway to the rest of the organization,” Allen said. “I think it took the museum to get attention to this corner.”

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the museum sees approximately 50,000 visitors annually. With only three full-time employees and an annual operating budget of $800,000, it is a wholly self-sustaining entity within the Soulsville Foundation family. Revenue is generated through admission prices and rental events.

Two years prior to the opening of the museum, the Stax Music Academy began its programming in the cafeteria of nearby Stafford Elementary School. A dedicated facility on the Soulsville campus was opened in 2002.

Funded by the Plough Foundation, the program works with middle and high school students from throughout Memphis and Shelby County. Students must audition to enter the program each year and tuition is $1,000 per student, though 90 percent receive scholarships. It’s an after-school program as well as a five-week intensive summer program called the Summer Music Experience, where students work with their instruments while learning the science of recording and business side of music. The summer program culminates in a live performance at the Levitt Shell . . . (read more)


CTSI stays competitive by adapting to client needs

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 7, 2013

It might take a freight train to hold all of the services offered by CTSI-Global, the Memphis-based global supplier of supply chain management expertise and technology to the logistics industry.

With innovative technology and offices located worldwide, CTSI works with shippers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to manage their business through a database 150 terrabytes strong.

Those services include freight audit and payment, rate negotiations, logistics management, claims management, benchmarking and consulting.

Phillip Mashburn is senior vice president of information technology operations for CTSI-Global, a Memphis-based global supplier of supply chain management.

(Photo: Andrew J. Breig)

As an example, Technicolor has a facility in Southaven that distributes 10 million DVDs a year for clients such as Paramount, Disney and Universal, which are also clients of CTSI.

“So every time they have a new DVD rollout, on a Tuesday, we help facilitate the shipments through our TMS software; we track every shipment and then we process it, pay it and put it into a massive data warehouse for them,” said Ken Hazen, president and CEO of CTSI.

That data warehouse is backed up in a real-time offsite disaster recovery location in Atlanta, the same used by other giants such as Google, offering a greater level of protection for clients.

The key to success has been in staying ahead of the game. For CTSI, Hazen says, this means “being 18 months ahead of our clients and the industry on new software, new development, new technology. … It’s whoever can be the most innovative.”

Much of this innovation for CTSI began with the Y2K panic of the late 20th century, prompting a new system and the company reinventing itself. This involved Web-based TMS software that offered clients one of 10 modules for improving their operations, whether load consolidation, shipment execution or tracking of shipments, along with the core business of auditing and paying freight bills . . . (read more)


Lake to put logistics savvy to use for Memphis World Trade Club

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 7, 2013

Don Lake, vice president of international operations for Dunavant Logistics Group, will add another accomplishment to an already impressive and diverse logistics resume.

Lake has been named 2014 president for the Memphis World Trade Club, a group of professionals – whether they be shippers, bankers, lawyers or brokers – connected with the distribution and logistics industries.

“It’s a really neat mix of people,” Lake said. “It’s a means for the industry within Memphis to get together and listen to a good speaker talk about whatever the hot topic is at the time.”

Lake began on his career path nearly a quarter of a century ago quite by accident. The lifelong Memphian attended the University of Mississippi for a general business degree.

He had worked with a small cotton merchant in Memphis during the summers and holiday breaks and harbored dreams of trading the commodity. Upon his graduation in 1990, he went to work for the cotton merchandising firm DECA International and was immediately pulled into logistics to fill a need in that department.

“It was a smaller cotton company and I really got to have my hands in on everything,” Lake says about his time with DECA. “I did a little bit of trading, I bought some cotton and sold some cotton, but my main job was to get it from point A to point B, whether that was from Clarksdale, Miss., at the warehouse it was stored in to Belmont, N.C., to a domestic mill, or from Clarksdale to Bangladesh. I was the guy that had to figure out how to get it there efficiently and get it there on time.”

After nine years with DECA, the firm was closing down and, in need of a job, Lake called on longtime friends, the Dunavants, whose cotton trading company stretched back to 1928 and would become the first seller of U.S.-grown cotton to China in 1972 . . . (read more)