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.
Joell Baker is a Blount County native and was born and raised right here in Maryville, TN. He served four years as an Army Infantryman and brings previous HVAC install experience to Russell & Abbott.
Joell is a father of two girls and when he is not spending time with them, he enjoys cheering on the Seahawks, working out, hiking, and fishing. He likes working for Russell & Abbott because his coworkers feel more like family and he is working with the “best of the best”.
Bart Black hails from Nebraska, but now he calls Louisville home. He and wife Chilene 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.
Chilene Black is originally from Nebraska but now calls Louisville, TN home along with her husband Bart and cat Sassy. She and Bart moved to East Tennessee in 2019 to live near the things they love to do such as hiking, fishing, camping, and boating.
Of working at Russell & Abbott, she says that she “loves the team atmosphere at Russell and Abbott and how everyone is treated like family”.
Jeff Cooley is new to the area. Originally from St. Louis, he lived in Atlanta before coming to Knoxville to be closer to his parents and brother. Jeff has five years of experience as an HVAC technician, starting as a helper and working his way up.
When he’s not at work, Jeff enjoys rock climbing, hiking and camping. He’s also a sports fan, backing the UT Vols, Atlanta United and the St. Louis Cardinals. He says he likes the level of customer service Russell & Abbott provides, along with “the family atmosphere and how well they take care of their employees.”
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 three 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 and 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.
Chief Executive Officer
As Chief Executive Officer 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.
Nic Jones comes to us from his hometown of Seymour, TN. Nic has lived in the area his whole life and when not at work, he enjoys longboarding, playing video games, and reading. Of working at Russell & Abbott, he says, “I love learning the ins and outs of the trade and providing timely and accurate service to those in need.”
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.
Senior 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 father of two children and is married 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.
Steven Lawicka and his wife, Kristin, recently moved to East Tennessee to be closer to his parents. His previous experience includes the completion of the I-Tap Electrical Apprenticeship Program in 2019.
Steven is a father to a 2-year old and has a baby girl on the way. When he is not spending time as a husband and father, he enjoys designing graphics, playing video games, dirt bikes and old muscle cars. Steven is excited to be working for Russell & Abbott.
Julie Love is originally from Hopkinsville, KY. This US Navy veteran attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for two years and has previous experience as a CNA and Medical Assistant. She also holds several certifications including, CPR, Leadership, Risk Management, and Cyber Awareness.
Julie and Chris, her husband of 5 years, currently live in Knoxville. She is excited to be working for Russell & Abbott because she loves being a part of a supportive community and doing right by the customer.
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 President 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 Office Manager 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.
Edward Myers lives in Rockwood and has seven years of experience in the heating and cooling industry. He’s a graduate of Tennessee College of Applied Technology.
An off-grid survival enthusiast, Edward is married to Natasha. They have five children, all boys, and the family loves doing anything outdoors together. On his first day at Russell & Abbott, Edward said, “I can tell it’s going to be good!”
Logan Owenby is a hometown guy, a graduate of Maryville High School, and proud to live and work in Maryville today. He’s also a graduate of Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Knoxville. Logan holds several certifications, including OSHA 10 and Universal EPA.
Logan attends Madison Avenue Baptist Church and is married to Herchelene. He says he’s looking forward to coming to work and putting the customer first every day.
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.”
Duct Services Technician
Scott Payne is a Blount County native and has lived in this area his whole life. Scott has a Business Management Degree with prior experience in the Irrigation Services and Factory Production. Scott is married to our Bookkeeper, Michelle, and they have two young sons. As a family they attend the RIO 180 Church in Maryville and enjoy outdoor activities together. Scott is excited to be working for Russell & Abbott because he enjoys learning new skills and being part of a great team.
Augie is originally from Corona, California. Augie and his fiancé, Tessa, and their two kids, recently moved to East Tennessee.
Augie comes to us with previous experience as a reefer technician and in HVAC installation. He holds several certifications, including an EPA Universal Certification as well as a NATE Certification. He chose Russell & Abbott based on the company culture and is excited to get started.
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 a 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.
Kelly Stout has 10 years of customer service and 5 years of management experience, and she’s ready to put all of it to work for Russell & Abbott. Kelly grew up in Strawberry Plains and has a 10-year-old son. She enjoys volunteering at church, along with sports, hiking and swimming.
Kelly is excited to join Russell & Abbott because she enjoys helping customers and being part of a great team.
Kayla was born in Rochester, New York but was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. She is married to Chris and has a stepdaughter attending school in Knoxville. Kayla has 2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 fish, and enjoys being outdoors or traveling when not playing video games and watching movies.
Kayla comes to us with 6 years of customer service in the medical field. Of working for Russell & Abbott, she says, “Blessed to be a part of a company that makes you feel as if you’re part of a team and part of the family. Always happy with going above and beyond for the customers to provide the best customer service experience”.
Eric Welch is a Knoxville native with five years of HVAC experience in both installation and service. He says working out is his hobby. He also loves UT Vols football and baseball. He’s pledged to “give customers and Russell & Abbott my all.”
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.”
Robby Wright moved to Tennessee from Corpus Christi, Texas. He has 30 years of experience in the heating and cooling industry, starting as a shop helper and working his way up. He holds many certifications, including NATE, NCI and EPA.
Robby is married to Ashlyn, and they have a daughter, Robynn. Robby enjoys bowling, football and traveling. Of working with Russell & Abbott, he says, “I’m looking forward to helping customers and building good relationships.”