Episode 6: Schools & Innovation: Ted Alling

About the Episode

Host Monty Bruell sits down with Ted Alling, serial founder of successful companies and a driving force in the innovation economy in Chattanooga, TN. Concerned about education in their community, Alling and his wife Kelly have been working with community partners to start a male charter school, Chattanooga Preparatory School. He gives us an inside look at school innovation and the thinking behind it.

Check out this episode!

Inside Episode 6

Ted Alling has always wanted to dance to the beat of his own drum. After graduating from Samford University, Ted went to work for third-party logistics leader C.H. Robinson, but soon tired of the large company’s conformity and restrictive environment. He thought that he could see a better, more efficient way of meeting growing customer demand and soon left his job to compete with his former employer.

While at Samford, Ted had become best friends with fraternity brothers Allan Davis and Barry Large. These three entrepreneurs put their heads together and formed Access America Transport. Fortunately, Barry’s family’s business, Key-James Brick, became Access America’s landlord and first customer. Additionally, the trio was able to leverage Key-James’ banking relationships to secure traditional lines of credit. Then they were off to the races!

Flash forward from this beginning in 2002 all the way to 2014, when Access America was acquired by Chicago-based Coyote Logistics in a deal for cash and Coyote stock. As luck would have it, barely a year later, Coyote Logistics was acquired by international logistics giant UPS. So, Ted, Barry, and Allan were able to get a “twofer” on their exit from access America Transport.

To his credit, Ted (still in his 30s) knew that neither starting nor selling Access America would be his most significant accomplishment. Ted and his wife Kelly wanted to make a positive difference in their community. They spent a few years doing some soul-searching and exploring options. Ted and Kelly finally decided that the best thing they could do would be to impact the lives of young, primarily minority boys living in disadvantaged socio-economic conditions. So, they set out on a path to start Chattanooga Preparatory School.

Slated to open in the fall of 2018, Chattanooga Prep will be a charter public school with an initial class of 60 sixth-grade boys. Located next door to Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA), Chattanooga Prep is being modeled on its sister school and hopes to replicate its success with boys.


Despite being a public school, Ted, Kelly, and other philanthropically-minded individuals are contributing substantial private resources to creating Chattanooga Prep. The vision for the school is that it will achieve excellence by international standards and will be a model that can be replicated by other communities.

Inside StudioNext, Ted Alling and I discuss his ideas about education, achievement gaps, and how he and his team plan to create the next generation of leaders, one Chattanooga Prep student at a time. Ted and Kelly are scouring the planet, meeting with educators, innovators, and others. I can hardly wait for Chattanooga Prep’s first period bell to ring!


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