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VOL. 132 | NO. 236 | Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Clarion's Heathcott Named NAWBO Women Business Owner of the Year

By Kate Simone

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Kim Heathcott

Kim Heathcott, founder and CEO of Clarion Security, recently was named the National Association of Women Business Owners’ 2017 Women Business Owner of the Year. The award, one of NAWBO’s highest honors, recognizes an entrepreneur who excels at strategy, operations, finances and problem solving; overcomes adversity; and gives back to her community.
Heathcott, who founded Clarion in 2010 with one customer, has grown to 600 employees and around 90 customers.

Hometown: Memphis

Experience: Bachelor of economics, Vanderbilt; MBA at SMU; 18-year career in lending at banks and commercial finance companies

NAWBO recently named you its 2017 Women Business Owner of the Year out of its nearly 5,000 members. What does this honor mean to you, both in a personal context and as a reflection of the Memphis business community? Personally, it's gratifying to be recognized by a premier national women's organization whose mission is to propel women entrepreneurs to greater success. I want to continue to do my part to give back to the organization by continuing to co-lead the NAWBO Memphis women's business accelerator as a way to invest in and help grow other women-owned businesses. As far as the Memphis business community, the city, chamber and many other organizations have really come together to encourage and help support and grow women, local and minority entrepreneurs. I have certainly benefited from that spirit and feel encouraged by the entrepreneurial ecosystem that is currently in place.

How has NAWBO impacted you as you’ve advanced your business? Having this "tribe," if you will, of women who encourage and support another's business success has helped propel my success and given me the camaraderie and support through a busy season of hard work. NAWBO Memphis has impacted me personally by enabling me to build strong relationships with other women business owners as well as connect me with other means to grow and scale my business throughout Memphis.

With Clarion in the national spotlight, what do you hope other women business owners can take from your story? Only 3 percent of women-owned businesses generate $1 million or more in revenues. I am hopeful that other women can be encouraged by my revenue growth and story and break through those numbers to continue to advance the growth of all women-owned businesses.

What talent do you wish you had? I wish I were more artistic! Every time someone asks me to produce an ad or visual marketing piece about Clarion Security, I struggle bringing in creative imagery to the project. I guess I’ve been working around numbers too long!

Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? My mother has had the greatest influence on me. She’s a true testament of hard work and perseverance in the face of challenges by reinventing herself and her career along the way.

What was the impetus for starting Clarion Security? My husband and I had some exposure to the industry with the business venture he was previously involved in. While conducting market research, we found Memphis is a top five security market because of the distribution and logistics companies we have here, so there was a lot of opportunity. As we got to understand the business, we felt like there was an opening for us to approach it in an innovative and fresh way.

How did you grow your business into what it is today? We started small, building the trust and confidence of our customers. When we had opportunities come our way, we leveraged those until we had the capacity and breadth of workforce to be able to take on larger jobs. Breaking into the market would be a challenge because the area was so saturated, so we had to come in with some strong differentiators from day one. We focused on bringing technological solutions into our security solutions, opted for a more sustainable approach, and really tried to build the company around the respect of the officers.

What’s next for Clarion? Are you focusing on certain areas of immediate growth? We are looking at how we can be more of a turnkey provider for our customers and deliver a more comprehensive security solution referred to as “integrated guarding.” Having the alarm and camera systems work in tandem with our guards is a more efficient way to secure an area and is more cost-effective for our clients. We’re also looking at ways drones can be used to protect our clients’ property and assets.

And what are your projections/goals for the company, say, five years from now? We would like to expand our market into Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas, as well as further into Tennessee. Our goal is to be top of mind for delivering the most innovative and integrated guarding solutions for our clients.

Along with being a successful business owner, you’re a wife and mother. Can you share any tips for others trying to find work-life balance? Spoiler alert: Work-life balance is hard to come by! For now, I’ve accepted that things like gardening, home organization and hobbies have to take a backseat. This allows me to focus on growing my company and raising my children. One day I’ll revisit those activities that I’ve had to say goodbye to for now, just not anytime soon, and I’m OK with that.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? My greatest accomplishment has to be raising my two well-rounded and mature children, Jack, 19, and Laura, 17. I feel like the past few years have been a whirlwind, but my husband and I have worked hard to ensure the kids know they are and always will be our first priority.

What do you most enjoy about your work? I enjoy the continual challenge of creating and reinventing my company and stretching my management capacities in handling such a large workforce. There are so many opportunities to learn and grow when you’re running a business.

If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? Match your personality and interests to various jobs, and don’t worry if you don’t find your ultimate passion and dream job right away. I didn’t start a company until I was 43! I invested in a lot of skill building and different career positions to get me where I am today.

Shea Moskovitz & McGhee attorney Leigh-Taylor White has been named a fellow of the Memphis Bar Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Memphis Bar Association. Fellows are elected in recognition of their commitment and service to the legal profession as well as the administration of justice and adherence to the highest standards of ethics and conduct. White concentrates her practice in the areas of divorce, child custody/parenting, alimony, child support, adoption, parentage/paternity and prenuptial agreements.

Leigh-Taylor White

Jessica Buttermore has joined the University of Memphis Design Collaborative as a new research associate.

Jamie Williams has joined Vaco Memphis as an executive recruiter in its supply chain and logistics division. In her new role, Williams will recruit and place engineering, supply chain and transportation professionals throughout the Mid-South. She most recently served as a transportation engineer in AutoZone’s distribution center and supply chain division, where she managed a private fleet of more than 350 trucks across nine distribution centers.

Jamie Williams

The Fisher Phillips Workplace Safety and Health Law blog has been ranked No. 18 on Feedspot’s Top 75 Health and Safety Blogs list. The ranking is based on Google reputation and search rankings, influence and popularity on social media platforms, quality and consistency of posts, and Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review.

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