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All In: Jim Maddox and the Chamber's Chairman's Circle Fight to Make Memphis a Better Place

The following is a feature in our Memphis Crossroads digital magazine. Click here to view the full magazine.

Dinner conversation sometimes sways to the problems of Memphis and when it does, Jim Maddox has an answer: “We’re working this.”

Maddox and his brother, Rod, own and operate Tri-State Truck Center, Inc. For the last two-and-a-half years, Jim has been a member of the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle. It’s with that group that Maddox gets to work on some of the biggest issues facing this city.    

“It’s easy to get discouraged when you read about all the crime or the schools or just any of the problems we have,” Maddox said. “But when you see that we have all these really, really smart people that have come together who are trying to fix all these things, it gives you a lot of hope.”

Maddox joined the Chairman’s Circle just after it was formed in November 2012. The group’s mission statement is succinct, perfectly to the point: “Making Memphis Great.” To do that, the group seeks “transformational change” in the city by allowing its members — more than 100 of the city’s top business leaders — to engage on city issues with civic partners and government leaders. 

Maddox was wary of joining the group in the beginning. The fees were a “major roadblock” for his company. But his friend Duncan Williams, president of the Duncan Williams financial services firm, kept the pressure on him. Williams finally invited Maddox to a meeting of the Chairman’s Circle. He was “blown away.”

 “When you look at the people in the business community of Memphis — the FedEx’s, the AutoZone’s, the Duncan Williams, the Wilsons, the Dunavants — you go down the list, and every one of them was sitting in that room,” Maddox said. “Every one of them thought it was important enough for them to take off work and to be there. 

“I was sitting there watching it and thought, ‘I might have to sacrifice somewhere on the money because this is something we need to be a part of.’”

And he and Tri-State Truck Center has been. In fact, Duncan Williams called Maddox an “engaged leader” and said he’s thankful Maddox joined the Chairman’s Circle.

“He cares for this city and wants to see it be as successful as it can be,” Williams said. “Jim’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves and pitch in to move mountains for Memphis.”

The Chairman’s Circle is well known for its Moon Missions. Among them are goals for creating 1,000 entrepreneurs here in seven years; creating more green space; training Memphians for jobs in advanced manufacturing; ensuring quality education opportunities for all Memphis children from birth to pre-Kindergarten; cleaning up the city; and creating a strategic, long-range plan for Memphis.

Over at Tri-State Trucking’s headquarters at the corner of E.H. Crump and Danny Thomas, rows of brand new Mack trucks shine in the sun. Maddox’s grandfather founded the company in 1945. Then his son, Maddox’s father, ran it for about 20 years. Maddox and his brother now carry the torch and hope to pass it along to their children in the future. 

The company has nine locations in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri with about 400 employees. Maddox said the company sells, services and leases trucks, “basically the same thing as a car dealership but for heavy duty trucks.” Memphis and logistics make his a good business, he said.

“This is the crossroads of this country,” Maddox said. “Everything eventually is going to be moved by truck. You can talk about rail or barge or anything else but when it gets to the terminal, somebody still has to pick it up with a truck and move it to the final location. 

“At the end of the day, somebody has to be here in Memphis or Tupelo or wherever to care of that piece of equipment.”

When asked if joining the Chairman’s Circle was good for his business, Maddox said his involvement isn’t really about that.

“When I’m out at dinner with my friends and they’re trying to get all depressed about this or that, I say, ‘guys we’re working on this’,” Maddox said, “You got to try. You can’t just throw up your hands, or you need to leave. None of these people (in the Chairman’s Circle) are leaving. They’re all in and I think that’s a great place to be.” 

Photo by: Troy Glasgow
Story by: Toby Sells
Posted: 8/11/2015 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Chairman's, Chamber, Circle, Crossroads, Greater, Jim, Maddox, Memphis



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THE M BLOG
The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 (cmeek@memphischamber.com) or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (jfish@memphischamber.com).

 

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