Navigating Uncharted Territory

Burt Odom, President and CEO of EMJ Corporation, shares some thoughts about navigating uncharted territory.

Burt Odom

I think it goes without saying, but we’re all feeling a little uneasy right now. That is understandable.

I want you to know that we are monitoring the situation with the Coronavirus and how it affects the health and safety of our people, and our projects. I’m thankful for the leadership I’m seeing as we adjust to the situation.

As we navigate this issue, I want to share some thoughts that are top of mind:

This too shall pass. The following days and weeks will be inconvenient, but a lot of smart people are taking measures to lessen the impact of this virus.

This is the time to serve people. To EMJ this includes our clients, but more broadly, your communities in general. Find some people around you in need and help them. And please, whatever you do, don’t stockpile toilet paper.

This is the time to be gritty. Being gritty means we are courageous and of strong character. Remember, challenges provide the fire which tempers the steel.

We are in uncharted territory and uncertain about what will happen in the coming days. But, I’m reminded of this quote from St. Joan of Arc, “Go forward bravely. Fear nothing. Trust in God, all will be well.” Onward!

Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Burt Odom is President and CEO of EMJ Corporation.


EMJ’s 10 most-read blogs of 2017

EMJ published more than 80 stories on in 2017. In celebration of the new year, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most-read blogs of the year. Check out these popular stories, and visit our What’s New page for more news.

1. Great construction superintendent
While this blog was published in late 2016, it continues to  be discovered and read online. Pulling in more than 1,100 readers in 2017 through Google searches alone, this blog remains a fixture among EMJ’s most-read blogs.

5 qualities of a great construction superintendent

2. Branch Technology & a 3D-printed house
Published just a few weeks ago, this popular story already ranks number two in readership. As construction of this groundbreaking project gets underway in 2018, this is sure to remain a hot topic.

EMJ, Branch to build the world’s first 3D-printed house

3. EMJ ranks #69 among Top Contractors
Engineering News-Record ranked EMJ #69 among its Top 400 Contractors in 2017, and the news traveled fast across social media and our website.

EMJ ranks #69 on ENR’s list of Top 400 Contractors

4. Outstanding employee performance
Our blog recognizing the top performing EMJ employees of 2016 has been read far and wide by proud families, friends, colleagues and many more.

Employees awarded Jolley for Outstanding Performance

5. Market City Center opens
The opening of Market City Center, a 10-story, mixed-use development in downtown Chattanooga, Tenn., garnered a lot of interest on our website. The project was the tallest building to be built in Chattanooga in several years, and the efficient and well executed project was a big story in the scenic city.

Market City Center opens in Chattanooga

6. Burt Odom on servant leadership
Tying in to our company purpose, to be people serving people, EMJ CEO and President Burt Odom discussed leadership with CityScope Magazine, expressing what he believes it takes to be a great leader and how a company develops leaders.

Burt Odom: ‘Great leaders are servant leaders’

7. Ruby Falls expansion
EMJ began work on an expansion of Ruby Falls, a popular tourist attraction in Chattanooga in Spring of 2017. Since then the team has been slowly excavating rock from the side of Lookout Mountain, Tenn., to make way for the additional facilities. It’s no surprise this blog has been well read, considering the uniqueness of this project.

EMJ to begin construction on Ruby Falls expansion

8. What to look for in a construction job
EMJ’s recruiting team worked with our writers to develop this fun blog, outlining what those seeking a job in the construction field should look for in their next employer.

6 things to look for in a construction company

9. The debut of EMJ Special Projects
Accent Construction was rebranded as EMJ Special Projects in late Spring of 2017. This news traveled fast and received a lot of attention online and on social media.

Accent Construction is now EMJ Special Projects

10. Guiding construction technology
Jonathan Deming, EMJ Director of Construction Technology and BIM, was featured on the blog in May. Emerging technologies in the construction industry and how they are applied on the job were a hot topic throughout the industry in 2017 and will continue to be in 2018 as more construction companies adopt these innovative tools.

Guiding teams into the future with construction technology

We hope you enjoyed our look back at 2017. These top 10 blogs are only a glimpse of the content published this past year. Click on What’s New at the top of the page to view more.

Burt Odom named Chief Executive Officer



Burt Odom, President of EMJ Corporation, has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer in addition to his current role. Jay Jolley, EMJ’s current CEO, will shift to the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors.

This transition is part of EMJ’s strategic approach to executive succession, which is designed to develop strong leaders that will ensure continued success for the corporation.

As President and CEO, Odom will be responsible for the overall success of EMJ and the family of companies. He will work with executive leadership, as well as the Board of Directors, to establish and execute the overall strategic vision of the organization.

“Throughout his career, Burt has proven himself to be a strategic visionary and servant leader,” said Jay Jolley. “He has the perfect combination of knowledge, operational experience and personal integrity to lead EMJ and the family of companies.”

Odom began his construction career in 1983 when he served under Edgar M. Jolley, after graduating from Auburn University. During his more than 30 years of experience, Odom has held various positions—most notably, as the Executive Vice President of EMJ’s Dallas office and the Chief Operating Officer before being appointed President of EMJ in 2010.

Jay Jolley, the son of Edgar M. Jolley, began his career at EMJ in 1983 as a project manager after graduating from Tennessee Tech University. Jay served EMJ in various roles including as its Executive Vice President and President before becoming CEO in 2010.

“Jay’s creative energy, strong work ethic and hands-on approach have left an indelible mark on EMJ,” said Burt Odom. “He boldly led EMJ during a time of diversification and growth. I am excited to work with him as he continues to help guide and inspire the company for many years to come.”

Odom will remain in the Dallas office but will continue traveling to and working in the family of companies’ corporate office in Chattanooga, Tenn.


For more information or media inquiries, please contact Dottie McCallen at or 423.490.3289.