Alumni Spotlight: Shannon Sapp ’94

Shannon Sapp is President and CEO of Merit Construction in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Shannon Sapp '94

Shannon Sapp graduated from the McWhorter School of Building Science (BSCI) in 1994 and started working at Merit Construction in Knoxville, Tennessee, just two years later. Fast forward 27 years and Sapp is now President & CEO at Merit, having worked his way up through the company in various positions like Project Manager, Estimator and Chief Operating Officer. “Looking back, there are a lot of people along the way who prepared me for this role,” he stated. “It’s an honor to be here, and I have a lot of appreciation for the people who worked alongside me in my career and helped me to get here.”

As President & CEO of Merit, Sapp currently oversees the operations of the company and its more than 85 employees.  While most of his focus is on the overall company operations, he does maintain involvement in the business development, pre-construction and project management aspects of the company’s work. “It’s fun to be a part of the bid day energy,” he said. “I’m regularly out on our job sites, meeting with clients and helping our project teams get what they need to be successful.”

Over the years, Sapp has been involved with a wide variety of projects, from medical and educational to commercial and retail. Merit has built three proton therapy centers in Knoxville, Nashville and Orlando. These cutting-edge healthcare facilities require specialized construction, and Sapp says Merit developed that expertise when a long-time customer approached them with a project. “At the time, there weren’t very many proton therapy centers in the U.S., so there weren’t many people who had that experience. Figuring out how to build something that specialized meant working with some really brilliant people. It’s fun to be able to build unique projects like that.”

When he’s not managing operations at Merit, Sapp is very active with Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and was elected to serve as Chair of AGC’s Building Division for 2022-23. Shannon currently serves on the boards of the AGC Education and Research Foundation, the AGC of Tennessee and the Knoxville AGC. He is a past president of the Knoxville AGC and also served as Chair of AGC’s National Steering Committee for the Construction Leadership Council. He is grateful to have been involved with AGC both from a professional and a personal standpoint. “The AGC advocates for our industry, promotes programs like Auburn’s and stands behind the students and the faculty with scholarships and learning opportunities,” he stated. “One of the best things that’s come out of my involvement are the relationships with my peers in the industry. Some of my best friends have been people I’ve met through the AGC.”

Sapp makes a point to meet with Auburn students every year at AGC’s annual convention. He encourages them to remain involved with AGC after graduation and advises them to get out in the field and gain experience through internships. “The most important lesson I learned at Auburn was the importance of internships. BSCI has really ramped up its internship program, and I think that’s invaluable for the students. Internships connect the dots and bring to life those lessons learned in the classroom.”

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