Charles Atkins, Inc.
Creating Homes of Exceptional Quality
For Charles Atkins, winner of Cityview Magazine’s Best of the Best pick in three different categories, satisfaction doesn’t come from simply landing a job and doing it well, but rather from pursuing a larger purpose rooted in service.
Charles Atkins Construction is a custom home building company that has been based in Knoxville for 25 years. This year, the company won first place in “Contractor-New Construction”, “Contractor-Custom Homes over One Million”, and “Contractor-Custom Homes over $750,000”.
Atkins works daily to design and construct customer focused homes. He believes that subtlety, comfort, and creativity are key to the design of an elegant and timeless home that will serve as a welcoming space for living, entertaining, and relaxing.
Ethics and quality are at the heart of his work, he says, ideals that were instilled early in his life.
“I’ve always looked for a job where I’ve felt challenged and where I serve a purpose and serve a need,” says Atkins. “It was never about money. I found that where there are challenges, I’m engaged, and without those challenges, I’m disengaged.”
Atkins grew up with an artist for a mother, helping her prepare for and run holiday craft shows in three states before he was even a teen. Atkins learned that owning a business was about being constantly engaged as an owner and employer, and being willing to evolve with the needs of the customer.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from North Carolina State in 1991, he sought a meaningful path for employment. “It was interesting because I wasn’t excited about the next step,” says Atkins. “It seemed like some of the jobs didn’t have the challenge I wanted.” But his whole paradigm shifted, he says, when he teamed up with a local builder.
Atkins formed his own company just one year later.
As his mentor’s company was forced to file for bankruptcy, Atkins took over the developments that were still in the process of being built.
“Your definition of success can change when things go from wonderful to bad,” he says. “You see what you could have lost. You feel fortunate.”
At 25, he found himself with 15 years of work experience, but when age 30 rolled around, he was ready for a change. He decided to head overseas to the University of Cambridge to earn his MBA.
“It was probably one of my last chances to slow down,” he says. “I spent a year studying and consulting. It gave me a chance to sit back and reflect on who I was and who I wanted to be.”
After returning home, Atkins realized that he had spent his late 20s juggling too many things. He decided to commit to strong, specific relationships. He began his current company at the end of 2001 and kept the same amount of work, honored his obligations with the bank, and nurtured his relationships with subcontractors and home owners. “My relationships grew stronger,” he says. “It was about doing things the right way, not the easy way.”
Atkins’ life continues to be about the service he can provide to others. “Difficult times do not call you to disengage from life and problems,” he says. “That is really the time to engage.”