Business Briefs for Feb. 16, 2017

Representives of the city and multiple businesses were on hand to accept Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce’s awards. From left, they are Kathy Ellis, Lakeland Cleaners; Tom Skehan, Lakeland city planner; Melissa Norton, Somerset Apartments; Oliver Banks, Wellness Walk-In Clinic; Nancy Rose, Orangetheory Fitness; and Scott Benjamin, The Refuge Church. Not pictured: The UPS Store. Photo by Carolyn Bahm.
Representives of the city and multiple businesses were on hand to accept Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce’s awards. From left, they are Kathy Ellis, Lakeland Cleaners; Tom Skehan, Lakeland city planner; Melissa Norton, Somerset Apartments; Oliver Banks,
Wellness Walk-In Clinic; Nancy Rose, Orangetheory Fitness; and Scott Benjamin, The Refuge Church. Not pictured: The UPS Store. Photo by Carolyn Bahm.

LACC awards top businesses at banquet

On Jan. 25, the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce recognized top-performing businesses and other leaders who contribute to business success in the city. The chamber’s Annual Awards Banquet Luncheon was held at Club Windward in Lakeland. Honorees included:

  • Making It Happen: Tom Skehan, Lakeland city planner
  • Excellent Customer Service: Lakeland Cleaners
  • Excellent Customer Service: UPS Store
  • Most Improved Business: Somerset Apartments, for building updates
  • Community Involvement: Orange Theory
  • New Business of the Year: Wellness Clinic
  • Community Outreach: The Refuge Church

MAAR installs officers and board of directors

MEMPHIS—The Memphis Area Association of Realtors installed its new president, officers and directors at its annual inaugural gala Jan. 13 at the Graceland Guest House.

“This is always an exciting time as dedicated professionals step forward to fulfill leadership roles for the community and for MAAR,” said Melanie Blakeney, MAAR CEO. “We appreciate their enthusiasm for service.”

MAAR’s 2017 leadership includes:

  • President: Tommie Criswell of Crye-Leike Inc.
  • Vice President: Lee McWaters of McWaters & Associates
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Kent Anderson of Crye-Leike Inc.
  • President-Elect: Lauren Wiuff of Marx-Bensdorf Realtors

Members of the board of directors include:

Jeff Burress of Crye-Leike Inc.

  • Nancy Cunningham of Coldwell Banker Collins-Maury
  • Bryan Evans of NAI Saig Company
  • Kathryn Garland of Garland Company Real Estate
  • Brenda Hampton of Crye-Leike Inc.
  • Mark Jenkins of Commercial Advisors Asset Services
  • Cheryl Muhammad of Assured Real Estate Services
  • Bill Stewart of RE/MAX Real Estate Experts
  • Sally Summerlin of Summerlin & Associates LLC

MAAR, one of Tennessee’s largest local Realtor organizations, includes about 3,400 members with real estate expertise stretching throughout the greater Memphis area. The MAAR data system includes records of all property transactions in Shelby, Fayette and Tipton counties. The MLS includes listings in Shelby, Fayette, Tipton, Hardeman, Hardin, McNairy, and Lauderdale counties in Tennessee; DeSoto County in Mississippi; and Crittenden County in Arkansas. For more information, visit

Guaranty Trust opens West Tennessee office

Gwen Chambers
Gwen Chambers

ATOKA—The boom in local real estate sales has attracted a national leader in home loans to west Tennessee. In early January, Middle Tennessee-headquartered Guaranty Trust opened an office in Atoka to expand its statewide presence. Local mortgage professional Gwen Chambers is the branch manager.

Guaranty Trust’s newest sales office will provide the company’s signature fast mortgage processing services to homebuyers throughout the state’s westernmost counties, including high-growth areas such as southern Tipton County, Millington and Bartlett, said CEO Retta Gardner.

“The local economy and homebuyer demographics match well with our loan products,” said Gardner. “We have been in this market for many years as a mortgage wholesaler, so it’s exciting to now be directly serving the homebuyers here.”

Chambers brings 19 years of experience in banking and finance to her new position at the Atoka office. She is joined by loan processor Stacey Davis. Prior to joining Guaranty Trust, the two were associates in the mortgage department of a local bank.

The Atoka office is at 139 Wesley Reed Drive, Suite D. For information about the company’s home loan products and services, contact Chambers at (901) 840-1272 or Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday–Friday and other hours by appointment.

Saint Francis-Memphis to offer prostate MRI biopsy

MEMPHIS—A recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association reports promising results from a more targeted way to biopsy the prostate. The Urology Cancer Center at Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis is the first and currently the only in the Memphis area to offer this specialized type of biopsy, called MRI fusion biopsy.

The study indicates that images from MRI fusion biopsy can help improve biopsy results and significantly reduce the number of men undergoing unnecessary biopsies. The study also reports that the MRI fusion biopsy is twice as likely to identify cancer as traditional techniques.

For more information on MRI fusion biopsy at Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis, call (901) 765-1059. To learn more about Saint Francis Hospital, visit

Loan pool to fund buying of low-cost homes in Memphis

MEMPHIS—Pinnacle Financial Partners and Memphis nonprofit The Works Inc. have formed a new partnership to enable low- and moderate-income individuals and families to enter into homeownership for the first time. Pinnacle is funding a loan pool of $500,000 intended to help with the purchase of low-cost homes that may otherwise go unoccupied.

The Works Inc. will originate the loans in this new program while Pinnacle services them. The Works Inc. will also work with the applicants to provide credit counseling and serve as an ongoing resource for mortgage clients.

The loan pool will fund home loans below $50,000, which is typically the minimum amount for most mortgage lenders. These loans will encourage re-use and redevelopment of existing homes in Memphis, which helps to combat blight and preserve neighborhoods.

Because of the low cost of these homes, many potential buyers find it difficult to secure loans despite having acceptable credit and the ability to pay. With loans from Pinnacle and The Works Inc., families who might not have ever considered homeownership can secure stable and affordable housing.

The initial $500,000 investment is intended to serve as a pilot, with the potential for growth in the future depending on its success and market demand.

For more information on Pinnacle, visit For more information on The Works Inc., visit

New hires and promotions

♦ Sylvia Glass has joined the Germantown office of Weichert Realtors-Benchmark at 9047 Poplar Avenue Suite 102. For more information about Weichert, visit

Debbie Stephens
Debbie Stephens

♦ Debbie E. Stephens of Memphis has become affiliated with Crye-Leike’s branch office at 6525 Quail Hollow Drive, Memphis. As a Realtor and affiliate broker, Stephens serves the real estate needs of buyers and sellers in and around Shelby, Tipton and Fayette counties. She specializes in residential real estate with a focus on helping first-time home buyers, seniors, and those looking to purchase rural properties. Previously, she worked in the transportation industry. She retired from FedEx Express after almost 30 years, where she served as its senior human resources and development specialist. She is a member of the National Association of Realtors, Tennessee Association of Realtors and the Memphis Area Association of Realtors. She also holds the At Home with Diversity (AHWD) designation, which has given her training that will help her better meet the needs of diverse clients. Stephens may be reached at (901) 351-6860 or

♦ Memphis Veterinary Specialists has added a second dermatologist to its team, Dr. Nicole Eckholm, a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD). She is a 2006 graduate of the University of California’s School of Veterinary Medicine and holds a master’s degree in microbiology from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Penn.

After receiving her doctorate, Eckholm worked in general veterinary practice and shelter medicine in the Washington, D.C., area for three years and then completed a post-doctoral residency in veterinary dermatology at the University of California’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Eckholm first practiced veterinary dermatology in the San Francisco Bay area before moving to Memphis. She takes a special interest in infectious skin disease, allergies, and auto-immune disease.

Memphis Veterinary Specialists is a referral-based practice, working with primary care veterinarians to provide services not typically found outside veterinary teaching hospitals. A referral from one’s primary care veterinarian is generally required to obtain an appointment. MVS is at 555 Trinity Creek Cove, in Cordova. For more information, visit or call (901) 624-9002.