Axle Logistics Develops Brown Appliance Site; Partners with Haslam Business Dept.

Rendering of the proposed building on the Brown Appliance site

(Today’s article is by guest author Heather Ryerson, photos also by Heather except for Brown Appliance)

We first told you about Axle Logistics in 2019 when they bought land in North Knoxville, began building Central Ave in 2020, and then again in 2021 when they opened that location just under 18 months ago. By the time they moved into their current building, the Hull Dobbs Building, they were already overcrowded and needed to quickly expand the basement development to create more open plan office space.

The company was recently named a Top Workplace Award winner by Knox News. The award is based entirely on employee feedback and the surveys are independently administered. This is on top of Inc. ranked in the top 5000 list of growing companies in 2022. This was the seventh inclusion on the list since its inception just 10 years ago.

Brown Appliance Building, Central Street, June 2021
Rendering of the proposed building on the Brown Appliance site
Rendering of the proposed building on the Brown Appliance site

In recent months, they’ve bought the neighboring block that currently occupies the former Brown Appliance building on the corner of Pruitt and Central. Design Innovation Architects and Denark Construction, who worked on the Hull Dobbs Building project, will also complete this project. I sat down with Ali Fraley, VP of Learning and Development, who has been with Axle for eight years and has been part of the company’s exponential growth. We talked about the plans for this project and more.

She said that while they don’t have a start date for construction, they have external accounts and know they plan to construct a five-story building that will house around 900 employees. It will include many of the employee-friendly amenities their current premises offer, but on a larger scale. The new build will feature a half-court basketball court with an overhead walking path, a sauna and a larger exercise area, with plans for an outdoor rooftop space with large office spaces and glass walls to demonstrate the transparency and openness they foster at Axle.

Axle Logistics, 835 North Central Street, Knoxville, November 2022
Axle Logistics, 835 North Central Street, Knoxville, November 2022
Axle Logistics, 835 North Central Street, Knoxville, November 2022

One obstacle they face with this upcoming project and this area of ​​Central Avenue is parking for these new employees. Axle is working with the city to determine how they can safely and affordably bring more parking to the area. They recognize this is impactful development and plan to continue to uphold their value of giving back and having a positive impact on the businesses around them.

I was intrigued by many things I saw as I toured the building and I might have thought about requesting an application when I saw the money tally that is currently set up as an incentive/reward for a lucky employee. There are other things they do to boost morale and recognize the hard work that employees put in every day. I personally loved the gongs on 2 of the floors. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet any myself as this privilege is reserved for employees to share and celebrate new partnerships and sales.

Axle Logistics, 835 North Central Street, Knoxville, November 2022
Axle Logistics, 835 North Central Street, Knoxville, November 2022

Other amenities you don’t see in an office building every day include a putting green, fire pit area, and game room, which are popular not only for blowing off steam but also as alternative places to conduct sales pitches and break some of the monotony of sitting down at a desk. The large aquarium on the ground floor and the water feature on the entry level are also soothing and peaceful ways to invigorate the spirit of the workplace. The day I walked in there was a grocer outside for the staff to enjoy and they brought in food trucks from around the area on a weekly basis to provide lunch while encouraging staff to cross the street on Fridays and den Support Central Filling Station food truck park.

Another exciting development is their partnership with Haslam College of Business at UT to create and maintain the Axle Logistics Performance Sales Lab. This partnership offers UT students the opportunity to earn 3 credit hours while learning about Axle Logistics’ business model and completing an internship that could become employment upon graduation. Axle sees the potential to keep the talent that UT is developing in the business department in our community, but also wants to give students the opportunity to gain hands-on logistics experience, whether it’s on-site or leveraging their careers to advance elsewhere.

Axel Logistics, 835 North Central Street, Knoxville, June 2021
Axle Logistics, 835 North Central Street, Knoxville, November 2022

While the Brown Appliance construction project is in progress, space is being found on Magnolia Ave to accommodate the growing workforce. Owned by John Macready and John Roethlisberger, the building is currently undergoing renovation and will house approximately 200 employees in 14,000 square feet. This allows them to add more staff to their team and bring back the accounting department that is currently off-site. Axle is thoughtfully developing the space with an open concept that fits the current building’s layout and hopes that when Axle moves out of the temporary location it will be attractive to another tenant.

Premier Construction is working on this project and DIA is the architect designing the space. They plan to have this space ready for employees by January 2023.



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