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Oak Ridge, TN: Where Success Breeds Success

These 6 award-winning businesses, organizations and leaders continue to excel, thanks to an excellent business climate and supportive community.

By Val Hunt Beerbower on July 14, 2022

The Houndry team and their four-legged friends in Oak Ridge, TN
The Houndry

The Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce’s annual ExtraORdinary Awards honors local businesses in the community, recognizing their work in advancing innovation and the customer experience in their respective fields.

The fact that other Chamber member businesses vote on the winners means neighbors, peers and fellow professionals recognize the talent teeming all around the supportive business community in Oak Ridge. Here are a few highlights from this year’s winners:

Entrepreneur of the Year: The Houndry

The Houndry started in 2016 as a dog day care business, and by 2018, the company grew into a larger facility accommodating more than 60 dogs daily.

Now, Amanda Lovegrove and Leah Hunter have expanded from their dog day care to a new and innovative dog adventure company. The Houndry owners recently broke ground on their latest venture: a local dog park and beer garden called The Backyard. It will offer craft beers focusing on woman-owned and local breweries and will have a beautiful water feature specifically for dogs designed by Willow Ridge Garden Center.

“We are so grateful to have started our business in this community,” Hunter says. “Aside from the hiking trails that have become a major part of our business, we always knew Oak Ridge was an ideal place for a dog venture. People here love their animals and they love their community, so we were able to easily find our niche and have grown well beyond our expectations for only being in business for five years.

Nonprofit of the Year: Free Medical Clinic (FMC)

Founded by John and Mary Lou Auxier, and driven by the compassion of neighbors, The Free Medical Clinic began in the heart of Appalachia. The clinic provides free medical care for low-income and uninsured residents of Roane, Anderson and Morgan counties, and the clinic has treated more than 50,000 patients since its founding in 2009.

Oak Ridge Pharmacy in Tennessee
Shellie Fellers

Small Business of the Year: Oak Ridge Pharmacy

Oak Ridge Pharmacy is an independent, family-owned business at the center of the new Main Street development. It is a full-service pharmacy offering immunizations, monthly compliance packaging and a variety of over-the-counter and wound care supplies.

Saad Aqqad, a transplant from Knoxville, opened the pharmacy in 2019, and within four months, the local establishment won over the hearts of the community, earning the “Best of the Best” designation in a local newspaper.

“We focus on not only being a place to do your pharmacy business in Oak Ridge, but also a place where you feel like you are part of a family,” he says.

Community Impact Award: Methodist Medical Center (MMC)

MMC of Oak Ridge is a 301-bed hospital that serves more than 200,000 citizens throughout the region. The Community Impact Award is presented to a for-profit business that makes a profound impact on the greater Oak Ridge community, and MMC was recognized for its charity care that exceeds $9 million per year as well as operating three hospitality houses to provide free lodging for patients and their guests.

Debra and Chip Dooley of Life Safety Inspections in Oak Ridge, TN
Life Safety Inspections

Business of the Year: Life Safety Inspections (LSI)

In business for more than 13 years, LSI is the only company in East Tennessee that is state recognized for all brands of extinguishers and restaurant systems and certified for heavy vehicle suppression systems.

Having spent some time as a manager for a local alarm company, Chip Dooley decided the time was right and the business climate in Oak Ridge was ready for his big idea. Today, LSI has expanded into restaurant hood suppression and mining vehicle suppression systems, all while retaining the company’s original 300-client roster.

“Oak Ridge is truly the best-kept secret, as we have all the conveniences of a big town but with a small-town feel,” he says.

Young Professional of the Year: Naomi Asher

It’s no secret that Naomi Asher, executive director of United Way of Anderson County, is a highly motivated, rising leader. She serves as president-elect of the United Way of Tennessee, chairperson for Explore Oak Ridge and ambassador for the Oak Ridge Chamber, among other roles.

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