Meet the Team
Mascot and Canine Blogger
The star of our billboards, company vehicles, and other advertising, Olive is inspired by Black Olive, a Labrador Retriever mix adopted from the Blount County Animal Center. Black Olive kept regular office hours at Russell & Abbott for many years, taking frequent naps on the navy blue couch near the main entrance. She is currently enjoying retirement with her owner.
Blogger Olive loves being the face and voice of our company. She loves blogging from home about heating and air topics. When she’s not blogging, Olive loves belly rubs, games of fetch, and sampling human food.
Comfort Advisor Coordinator
Bart Black hails from Nebraska, but now he calls Louisville home. He and wife Chillene moved to Tennessee to be near the Smoky Mountains, where they love to fish, camp, boat, and hike.
Bart is naturally organized and pays strict attention to detail. He brings more than 30 years of retail customer service experience and 15 years of management experience to his role at Russell & Abbott.
“I enjoy working with a team that’s committed to providing the best service possible each day,” he says.
Shannon Bryant brings more than 15 years of journalism, public relations, and marketing experience to the Russell & Abbott team. Originally from Plainview, Tennessee, Shannon gained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Maryville College in 1999 and moved back to Maryville 20 years later with her tween son.
“We love it here,” she says. “Maryville is a great place to live, and Russell & Abbott is a great place to work. This group is fun and family-oriented. It’s like having 16 big brothers!”
On the weekends, Shannon enjoys medieval re-enactment with the Society for Creative Anachronism, where she specializes in traditional archery.
Valari Burts keeps the books balanced here at Russell & Abbott. With 25 years of experience in office administration, she’s got the chops to make that happen. Valari first moved to Blount County in 1997, and all three of her children are William Blount High School graduates She is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church. She has previously volunteered in her church youth ministry, as a worship and music leader, and as a leader for Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts.
Valari likes cooking, traveling, and just spending time around a campfire, singing and laughing with family and friends, or sitting around the table playing boardgames or cards. She says she’s grateful to be part of the Russell & Abbott team, “which truly works together to make sure the customer is always taken care of.”
A Knoxville native, Sam Hartness says he has always liked the various construction trades and providing great customer service. Sam has many years of experience in those fields, plus plenty of management experience.
“This job brings so many skills into one place, plus there is something new each day,” he says. “I enjoy the team and the willingness of everyone to work together.”
Sam and wife Mary have two children. They attend Sevier Heights Church, and Sam volunteers with the host team at the church. Sam enjoys spending time with his family and being outdoors.
Tim Holler is originally from Des Plaines, Illinois. He and wife Ariana moved to Knoxville in 2015. He has two years of HVAC installation experience and three years of HVAC service experience. He has EPA Universal and EPA Vehicle certifications and attended Fortis Institute Vocational School.
Tim says he loves the team atmosphere at Russll & Abbott, especially morning gatherings. “It makes my start to the day a great one,” he says.
Tim enjoys off-roading and tabletop gaming with friends on the weekends.
Will Hughes is the kind of team member that co-workers say they can count on to always lend a hand. Will has been with the Russell & Abbott team for two years, and he has an innate talent for all things mechanical.
“I enjoy seeing homeowners excited about the results of our work,” he says.
Will is married to Ashley, and they are raising a daughter. Outside of work, Will enjoys blacksmithing, football, and fishing. He is an avid Tennessee Volunteers fan.
As President of Russell & Abbott, Chris Hurley wears a lot of hats. He oversees all aspects of the business and helps ensure that we design the perfect comfort solutions for our customers. But Chris is also key to our amazing company culture of integrity, empowerment, and mutual support.
"Being able to provide a working environment where every employee is empowered to help customers with their heating and cooling issues is pretty special," he says. "It is also a real privilege to continue the great legacy that was begun by Mr. Russell and Mr. Abbott of giving our neighbors value, respect and excellent service."
Chris has two adult daughters, and he has called Maryville home since 2003. He’s a member of First United Methodist Church of Maryville, where he is active in mission work. He is also active in several civic clubs and serves on the board of several nonprofit organizations, and he is committed to helping others, both at home and around the world.
Adam Kelly moved to East Tennessee because of his love for the Smoky Mountains and his enthusiasm for camping. But before he did, he looked at area HVAC companies online and decided he wanted to work for Russell & Abbott. We’re happy he chose us!
Adam was born in North Carolina, and his family moved around a lot before settling in Georgia. He served six years active duty in the U.S. Army, including tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After he left the service, he completed HVAC school and went to work for a heating and cooling company near Charleston, South Carolina.
Adam enjoys troubleshooting and learning new skills, which makes him a great service technician. He is an animal lover, and he loves meeting customers’ pets. He is also passionate about cars. Adam is involved in RallyCross Racing with the SCCA—Sports Car Club of America.
Lead Service Technician and Trainer
Chris Kelso is a Blount County native and is very proud to say that he has lived here all his life. He also has more than two decades of experience in the heating and cooling industry. He is certified by the EPA to handle refrigerants, and he’s got a real knack for fixing HVAC systems.
Chris says Russell & Abbott is perfect for him because he enjoys working with people who share his positive outlook. He also likes making a difference for customers and helping them feel more comfortable in their homes.
Chris is a single father of two children and is engaged to Megan. Hunting, fishing, and dirt track racing are his favorite ways to spend time. He is a member of Outreach Church. Chris says he enjoys working with a team that he considers to be professionals in the industry. He adds that he is motivated to make a positive difference in the comfort of his customers.
Bruce is a fun, dependable and patient member of our office staff. His career has included management, marketing and sales across a variety of industries.
Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bruce is married to Russell & Abbott Business Operations Administrator Melissa Meck. Together, they have five children, three dogs, and a cat. The family attends Sevier Heights Church. This dedicated Steelers fan attended Seminole State College of Florida and volunteers with Honor Air and Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries.
What does he enjoy most about working at Russell & Abbott? “Being part of not just a team, but a family,” Bruce says. “A family that works towards a common goal of taking care of each other, our customers and our community.”
Melissa Meck loves crunching the numbers. Here at Russell & Abbott, Melissa keeps the office wheels turning. She was also the brain behind our migration to a new cloud-based office management software.
Melissa is from Knoxville and graduated from Carter High School. She is certified in Quickbooks and XERO. She has previous experience in bookkeeping, accounting and management. The thing she likes most about Russell & Abbot is that “people here really care about each other and our customers.”
Melissa is married to Russell & Abbott Service Coordinator Bruce Meck. They are raising five children, so they stay busy. They are active in Sevier Heights Church and their kids’ activities, including Girl Scouts and sports.
Originally from Philadelphia, Tennessee, Michelle Payne moved to Maryville after earning a bachelors degree in social work from East Tennessee State University. She has five years of experience in the life safety industry, along with experience in purchasing and sales.
Michelle is married to Scott, and they have two young sons. The family attends RIO 180 Church in Maryville. Michelle enjoys camping, going to the beach, and cheering on her favorite sports teams: the Vols, the Titans and the Braves.
Of working at Russell & Abbot, she says, “It’s great to work for a company that goes above and beyond to take care of their employees and customers.”
Brad Ramshur hails from Bastrop, Louisiana, but he’s lived in Maryville for two years. He and wife Heather have two children, both of whom attend Maryville City Schools. Brad’s parents and sister live in the area, too.
Brad has five years of experience in the HVAC industry doing service, repairs and maintenance. He holds an EPA Universal certification. In his spare time, Brad enjoys kayaking and traveling.
Mark Refro is new to the HVAC industry, but he has a natural talent for mechanics and electronics. Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Middle Tennessee State University with coursework in recording arts, audio engineering, communications and more. He also has several years of experience in audio/visual technology, both installation and as a “roadie” on tour.
“I love working with tools and building or making things, and I love helping members of the community who need help with their HVAC,” he says.
Mark is getting used to “stepdad life,” as his girlfriend has two young sons. He also enjoys playing drums, singing, gardening, and spending time in the great outdoors.
Cole Robertson is a Blount County native and a graduate of Alcoa High School. He holds an HVAC Tech certification from Georgia Northwestern, plus an EPA Universal Certification. Cole has eight years of experience in the heating and cooling industry.
Cole’s customers and co-workers always speak well of his work, as he performs every job with care and accuracy. One co-worker recently said about Cole, “He’s the kind of person who cares about the quality of his work, and it shows.”
Mike Sanz has extensive experience in customer service and sales. As our newest Comfort Advisor, Mike brings expertise he gained at Comfort Supply wholesale HVAC distributor and The Maryville Daily Times. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from East Tennessee State University. Mike says he enjoys consulting with customers to meet their unique needs.
“I like to ensure that we always exceed their expectations for home comfort,” he says.
Mike is married to Amy, and they have three young adult children. They attend Apostles Anglican Church, where Mike volunteers and does mission work. He enjoys golfing, boating, grilling out, and spending time outdoors.
Jamie Smith is a recent transplant from Cookeville, Tenn., with five years of HVAC experience spanning repair, maintenance and installation. He attended Fortis Institute and Lee Company University and holds several certifications, including EPA Universal, EPA 609 Technician, and 410A Safety.
Jamie and wife Lacey have two daughters. Jamie enjoys hunting, fishing and dancing, and he’s a fan of the UT Vols and Tennessee Titans. Of Russell & Abbott, he says the family atmosphere is what drew him to the company.
Skyler Stone is a Maryville native. If you think that his name is familiar, it’s because he is the grandson of the late Dean Stone, longtime editor and columnist for The Daily Times.
Skyler is planning for his future and hopes to make a long-term career in the heating and cooling industry. Skyler enjoys fishing and gardening in his spare time. Like most of the Russell & Abbott team, he believes in giving back to the community, so he also volunteers at the Blount County Animal Center.
Zach Wingate is originally from Albany, Georgia. This U.S. Marine Corps veteran has previous experience as a wind turbine technician and holds several certifications, including an HVAC/R Technical Certificate, EPA Universal, and R-410A.
Zach is married to Nicole, and they have three children. He’s an avid football fan. About Russell & Abbott, he says, “They make you feel like family from day one.”
Brandon Wise says he’s excited to learn the HVAC trade and to join the Russell & Abbott team. He lives in Knoxville with wife Tiffany and their two young children. There, Brandon raises beef cattle on a farm he manages. He enjoys hunting, fishing and watching the UT Vols with his family, and also teaching Sunday school at Loveland Baptist church.