In Charge '14: Manufacturing

As is our annual tradition, the Post team presents In Charge, a compendium of Middle Tennessee’s top business, political and civic leaders. The 450-plus women and men on our list — our fifth annual — make a positive impact not just on their individual sectors, but on the city in general. These folks are the best of the best — and always “in charge.”



1. Ronnie Barrett — Founder, Barrett Firearms: Recognized globally within his industry as an expert in large-caliber rifle design and manufacturing. Well known for his 50 caliber rifles for civilian use. Murfreesboro-based company’s M82A1 has been purchased by more than 40 military organizations worldwide.

2. Mark Cleveland — CEO, Swiftwick: Founded maker of moisture-wicking and blister-reducing socks with cult following. Oregon native has made inroads into NHL as well as endurance sports and is looking to develop socks with other niche uses. Also owns Brentwood remote-control craft story Hobby Express.

3. Christopher Conway — Chairman, President and CEO, Clarcor: Oversees Franklin-based water and air filtration company. Company announced last November it will buy the air filtration business of General Electric Co.’s Power and Water division for $265 million. Company is estimated to do $1.22 billion in sales this year.

4. Gary Garfield — President and CEO, Bridgestone Americas: Named CEO and president of the tire manufacturer in March 2010. Joined the company in 1991 and most recently served as its VP and general counsel. Holds a juris doctorate.

5. Henry Juszkiewicz — CEO, Gibson Guitar: Co-owner of iconic Gibson brand that has become a company of instruments, stringed and keyed. Had a calm 2013 when federal prosecutors in August 2012 brought a criminal case against Gibson after the latter acknowledged its importing of exotic woods violated environmental laws.

6. Christine Karbowiak — Chief Administrative Officer, Bridgestone Americas: Promoted to CAO in 2010 from her role as EVP of community and corporate relations, adding environmental affairs, internal audit, safety and corporate security to her duties. Bridgestone’s first woman board member. Joined company in 1992.

7. Gordon Knapp — COO of Bridgestone Americas and Chairman, CEO and President of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations: Recently replaced Eduardo Minardi, who is relocating to Brussels, Belgium, to assume his role as Bridgestone Europe executive chair full time. Offers international experience, having worked at Kimberly Clark and Pfizer.

8. Ken Knight — Complex Manager, GM Spring Hill Manufacturing: Relocated to Nashville in November 2011 to lead the 6.9-million-square-foot, 2,000-employee operation, which includes two engine production facilities, stamping and plastics component plants, and finished vehicle assembly of the Chevrolet Equinox. Joined General Motors in 1993 as a lean manufacturing advisor.

9. Randy Knight — VP of Manufacturing, Nissan North Americas: Joined Nissan in 1983 as a production technician. Named to position last November. Previously served as director of material handling and production control. Has held a number of company leadership positions in manufacturing and supply chain management.

10. John Martin — Senior VP of Manufacturing, Nissan North Americas: Irishman who held a similar role for Nissan in Europe. Was a supply chain VP in North America from 2007 to 2009.

11. Craig Philip — CEO, Ingram Barge Co.: A veteran of the marine, rail and intermodal industries. Has held adjunct faculty positions at Princeton and Vanderbilt. Arrived at Ingram in 1982, left in 1987 and rejoined in 1991. Named president in 1994 and CEO in 1999.

12. Ajita Rajendra — President and CEO, A.O. Smith Corp.: Named president and chief executive officer of A.O. Smith Corp. on Jan. 1, 2013, becoming the ninth CEO in the company’s history. Company has enjoyed quarterly gross profits of at least $179.3 million since then.

13. Layle ‘Kip’ Smith — CEO, Noranda Aluminum Holding: Has led Franklin-based manufacturer since March 2008. Company’s Missouri plant accounts for 15 percent of all U.S. aluminum output. Company stock has struggled since January 2011 as global aluminum prices have remained low and company has undertaken cost-cutting moves.

14. Curtis Stevens — CEO, Louisiana-Pacific: Replaced the retired Rick Frost in May 2012. Served as company’s chief operating officer and executive vice president from December 2011 to May 2012. Joined LP, which has manufacturing plants across the United States, Canada and South America, in 1997.

15. Bill Sweatman — President and CEO, Marangoni Tread North America: Company in 2011 invested $7.5 million to construct a plant in Madison to produce Unitread. In September 2011, the company celebrated the manufacture of its two millionth Ring Tread and, last November, announced it would add a third shift to Unitread precure tread manufacturing due to demand.

16. DeWitt C. Thompson V — President, Thompson Machinery: Helms successful regional Caterpillar dealer with operations in Tennessee and Mississippi. Shareholder of SouthComm, parent of Nashville Post magazine.

17. Tera Vazquez — Co-Founder and President, Guy Brown Products: In June 2011, became CEO of minority-owned Guy Brown. The Peruvian native in 1999 helped launch the Brentwood-based company, which reported 2010 revenues of approximately $190 million. Was president of the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce from November 2008 until January 2012.

18. Uzi Yemin — President and CEO,Delek US Holdings: Former CFO of Israel-based Delek fuel unit who took the helm at U.S. arm and parent of Mapco in 2004. Oversaw company’s 2006 IPO. Awarded last December with a 4 percent membership increase in Delek Logistics GP.