Organization Recognizes Bible’s Leadership and Community Involvement

KaTom CEO Patricia Bible shares a laugh with fellow East Tennessee Business Hall of Fame inductees Denark Construction President Frank Rothermel, left, and
University of Tennessee Medical Center CEO Joseph Landsman following the May 6 event. (Photo credit: Taylor Martin Photography)

Patricia Bible, CEO of KaTom Restaurant Supply, was inducted into the East Tennessee Business Hall of Fame last month.

Bible cofounded KaTom with her husband Tim in their home's garage in the early 1980s. She has been solely at the company’s helm since her husband’s passing in 2001. During that time, KaTom has experienced a period of phenomenal expansion that netted the company 12 consecutive years running on Inc. magazine's list of the fastest-growing companies in America.

This success proved durable through the last year as the company was one of only a few in its industry to grow through the pandemic. Its 26-percent sales increase in 2020 pushed it to No. 6 on Foodservice Equipment & Supplies' list of the largest restaurant supply dealers.

“I am so humbled to receive this honor,” Bible said of being included in the hall. “We had no idea what we were creating when we started stockpiling kitchen equipment in our garage almost 40 years ago. Through it all, we held onto our customer focus and worked to give back to the communities in East Tennessee that provide so much support to us.”

KaTom has also been an innovator in the space, known for being among the first to take its catalog online, selling everything from forks to walk-in coolers through its KaTom.com e-commerce platform, which is a major driver of its continued growth. It's gone from employing just a few dozen people to topping 200 in the last decade alone as it moved into a new headquarters and expanded that facility a half-dozen times.

East Tennessee Business Hall of Fame inductees include Ruby Tuesday and Blackberry Farm founder Samuel “Sandy” Beall III, former Tennessee Gov. Bill and First Lady Crissy Haslam, and superstar Dolly Parton. The hall, a program of Junior Achievement of East Tennessee, recognizes “individuals who have made a significant and positive impact” on the region through business excellence, visionary and innovative leadership, and community involvement.

“We are excited to honor Patricia Bible this year because she has such an inspirational story,” Junior Achievement of East Tennessee President Callie Archer said. “She has proven she is resilient in both her personal life as well as in business, and the entire region benefits from her success. She is receiving this honor because she embodies not only the business excellence criteria, but she really is an inspirational and enthusiastic leader. You can tell she is more concerned about what she is contributing to others – her family, those at KaTom, and in the community at large – than what she is achieving personally.”