The effects of a tumultuous 2020 were still evident in 2021. Now, the region’s business, political and civic leaders are helping bring their organizations into a new era. We hope this 13th edition of the In Charge list is not unlucky. Those on it embody what it means to be “in charge,” and it will be up to them to make sure the city and state continue their collective forward trajectory.
See the In Charge lists for other industries here.
Mike Apperson — President and CEO, Resource Label Group: Oversees label printing business that is regular acquirer of niche peers and now employs 1,450 people. Has backing of private equity firms First Atlantic and TPG Growth. Company acquired Dallas- and Seattle-based entities in late 2020.
Greg Bafalis — CEO, Aries Clean Technologies: Named in 2016 to lead firm. Has 30-plus years of leadership in clean technology and energy sector. Past work includes stints with Fortune 500 companies and launching PE-backed renewable energy company in Houston. Company landed in early 2018 collective $46.4 million of new and additional equity from two entities.
Clay Bright — CEO, Megasite Authority of West Tennessee: Former Brasfield & Gorrie leader was appointed transportation commissioner by Gov. Bill Lee. Now is responsible for shepherding one of the largest manufacturing projects in Tennessee history: Ford’s electric vehicle plant and affiliated battery plants.
Mark Chaffin — President and CEO, Mitsubishi Motors North America: Company vet was this year promoted to top job at company’s North American arm.
Steve Cook — Executive Managing Director and Co-Founder, LFM Capital: Oversees private equity investment entity that focuses, in part, on manufacturing entities. Ex-principal with TVV Capital and COO of MFG.com. Former Navy lieutenant who flew combat missions in support of Desert Shield.
James Curleigh — CEO and President, Gibson Brands: Former Levi’s exec has pushed mix of heritage and innovation for brand. Company in 2021 acquired amplifier brand Mesa/Boogie and, also that year, launched Gibson Records.
Reagan Farr — President and CEO, Silicon Ranch: Stepped up from COO in mid-2019 to take over from Matt Kisber. Former state revenue commissioner during administration of Phil Bredesen who has helped grow Silicon Ranch to 140-plus solar farms in 14 states. Company in November 2021 announced it will build, operate and own its first solar farm in Canada.
Philippe Fauchet — Dean, Vanderbilt University School of Engineering: Veteran academician also serves as VU professor of engineering. An expert in silicon photonics who holds numerous patents and once founded a successful startup. Helped land in 2019 a $20 million gift for engineering school from VU chair Bruce Evans.
Paolo Ferrari — President and CEO, Bridgestone Americas: Took over from Gordon Knapp in January 2020 after leading tire giant’s European operations since 2016. Former luxury retail exec who moved to the auto industry in 2012 to lead Pirelli North America.
TJ Higgins — Global Chief Sustainability Officer Bridgestone Corp.: Joined Bridgestone Americas in 2014 as president of the Consumer Integrated Tire Group. Has worked with Pfizer, Merck and Vlasic Foods.
Jeff Hollingshead — GM, Smyrna Ready Mix: Leads concrete company that acquired seven peers in four states.
Ted Klee — Senior Vice President, Schneider Electric: Vanderbilt graduate who in 1985 joined what was then Square D. Was named senior VP in 2009 and in 2019 shifted role to help companies with large internet clients.
Steve Marsh — Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, Nissan North America: Appointed in March of last year, taking over from Heath Holtz as leader of Nissan’s manufacturing operations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Has been with auto maker for more than 30 years.
Darin Matson — President and CEO at Rogers Group Inc.: Replaced the retiring Jerry Geraghty in 2016 and has been with company since 2004. Rogers provides crushed stone, sand and gravel for the road construction industry.
Jérémie Papin — Senior Vice President, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.: Nissan’s senior vice president of administration and finance since 2018 who in 2019 year took over leadership of auto maker’s North American unit. Assumed current role in April 2021.
Ikdeep Singh — Regional President, Mars Petcare, North America: Oversees strategy and execution for company, which employs about 4,000 people and has 22 facilities nationwide. Company announced in early 2021 it will invest $145 million to expand its manufacturing facility located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Parent company Mars Inc. plans to acquire NomNom for a reported approximately $400 million.
Brad Southern — CEO, Louisiana-Pacific: Replaced Curt Stevens in July 2017 as fifth CEO in company’s history. Joined LP in 1999 and led both siding and oriented strand board units before moving up to COO. Holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forest resources from the University of Georgia.
Sam Strang — President, Alley-Cassetty: Vanderbilt grad who was in 2011 named to lead brick, concrete block and mortar company founded in 1879. In late 2018 bought assets from local peer LoJac that grew regional plant network to 14.
Dean Wegner — Founder and CEO, Authentically American: Founded company in 2017 with goal of creating apparel-making jobs in the United States.
Jason Whitaker — CEO, Shoals Technologies Group: Joined maker of solar energy equipment parts in 2009 as CTO and was named CEO in early 2020. Company went public in early 2021 in red-hot IPO that valued it at more than $4 billion.
Uzi Yemin — Chairman, President and CEO, Delek US Holdings: Has led energy conglomerate since mid-2004, overseeing numerous acquisitions of pipeline and logistics assets. Began in 2021 facing calls for big governance and strategy changes from CVR Energy, a Carl Icahn-controlled company that, at the time, owned 15 percent of Delek.
Michael Youngs — Plant Director, GM Spring Hill: Third-generation General Motors employee who took over in Maury County in 2019. Has worked at six GM sites over 27 years with auto giant, whose local operation employs about 3,700 people. GM execs in October 2020 said they will invest $2 billion to add an electric vehicle production line to plant.