Axle Logistics Continues Explosive Growth (and Construction)

Construction Site on the 900 Block of North Central, Axle Logistics, Knoxville, April 2024
Construction Site on the 900 Block of North Central, Axle Logistics, Knoxville, April 2024

The first time I wrote about Axle Logistics, in September 2019 (you’ll find the full back-story there), owners and co-founders Drew Johnson and Jon Clay were rightfully proud of the growth their company had experienced and they planned an ambitious expansion into the Hull Dobbs Building at 835 North Central Street. The company had grown to 86 employees in seven years, a growth trajectory of which they were rightfully proud.

They projected to have about 130 employees by they time they moved into that building and “have plans to grow to around 265 employees within five years.” It’s been less than five years and they’ve bought the adjacent block where they are rapidly constructing a second building to house their rapidly growing workforce. And how are they doing on that 265 employees? As of last month they now employ over 600 people with an average pay of $117,000.

Construction Site on the 900 Block of North Central, Axle Logistics, Knoxville, April 2024
Construction Site on the 900 Block of North Central, Axle Logistics, Knoxville, April 2024
Construction Site on the 900 Block of North Central, Axle Logistics, Knoxville, April 2024

Mr. Johnson said, “We’ve been blessed with a great group of people and are grateful to be on this trajectory of growth.” Mr. Clay added, “Our new building, now under construction next door to our existing headquarters, will enable us to eventually have some 1200 employees,” and he pointed to the economic impact on the area of that many employees at that salary average.

The company received a PILOT from Knoxville and Knox County based partly on their pledge to create 263 jobs within five years, a goal they obviously far exceeded. Mayor Kincannon said of the milestone, “When local government and the private sector collaborate, good things happen.” She added that the company has invested $40 million into the headquarters and the emerging additional building. County Mayor Jacobs added, “Axle Logistics is the kind of company we want to see in Knox County. It’s homegrown, it creates great jobs, (and) it uses technology to help succeed.”

Construction Site on the 900 Block of North Central, Axle Logistics, Knoxville, April 2024
Construction Site on the 900 Block of North Central, Axle Logistics, Knoxville, April 2024

A logistics company, its focus is “providing safe, reliable, advanced logistics services. That includes truckload, less than truckload (LTL), intermodal, and warehousing to customers throughout the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico.” A number of their employees are temporarily housed several blocks away on Magnolia Avenue. The new 85,000 square foot facility is designed to take them into their next phase. “The new headquarters project is being managed by Conversion Properties, was designed by Design Innovation Architects and is being built by Merit Construction.”

As I’ve done periodically throughout construction, I’ve included current photographs of the project. As with all projects, it took a bit of time to start its climb, but now it is climbing rapidly. It’s another step in the transformation of North Knoxville and, particularly, the Central Street corridor. It would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago.

Also as I’ve done the previous two days, there will be a second post later today which will look at the stadium construction which, if you haven’t seen it lately, will surprise you a bit. Or at least it surprised me. Watch for that around mid-afternoon.