The How and The Why

After selling his company and searching for direction in retirement, Clay Dennis was handed a book by his longtime friend and risk advisor, John Ballinger. In this book Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well, Billy Graham wrote that simply retiring after a lifetime of God’s blessings, valuable experiences, and lessons should not be the goal of getting older. As “elders,” we have a responsibility to pass on our lessons learned for the benefit of others coming behind us. It was this book that inspired the formation of Part Time Business Partners.

After working together for nearly 15 years, Clay Dennis and John Ballinger clearly understood their responsibility to help others by mentoring, coaching and advising those in need of help in their businesses.


Leadership Experience: 50 years
Business Experience: 30 years
Leadership Development: 30 years
Risk Management: 25 years

What will be your Act 3?

Act 3, or chapter 3, is the time in life when all your hard work in business finally pays off and you get to turn the page to what comes next. For me, chapter 1 was the Navy and the jobs that led me to my own business. Chapter 2 was starting and growing my business and a family. Chapter 3 is how I plan on spending the next 10 to 15 after selling my business.

What will be your act 3? Where do you want to be? How much money will you have saved? How healthy will your relationships with your spouse and kids be? Will you have grown and sold your business or closed it down? The decisions you make in chapter 2 will determine the answers to all of these questions, so it’s important to have a plan for chapter 3 and work that plan. Trust me, you are going to blink and the time will be here.

My act 3 is to help those writing their chapter 2 end up where they really want to be. That’s what Part Time Business Partners is all about.

Clay Dennis

Part Time Business Partner
Happy Clients
Happy Employees
Millions of Dollars Managed

Clay Dennis

Founding Partner

Clay Dennis has been helping companies create better processes and accountability measures for more than a decade and specializes in helping companies implement change in a way that encourages and engages people.

Clay has facilitated highly successful financial and cultural turnarounds across a variety of industries and is a proven leader in implementing change, refocusing teams to common goals and restructuring company positions to best take advantage of individual strengths and weaknesses.

Prior to starting Part Time Business Partners, Clay served as President and CEO of Southern Hearth and Patio Inc. for 17 years where he was repeatedly recognized nationally within his industry, and even named “Small Business of the Year” by the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.

Clay has developed technical, marketing and safety programs for national educational foundations and served leadership board roles in his community including Rotary Club, The Boy Scouts of America and various veteran organizations. Clay himself is a U.S. Navy veteran of the first Gulf War, earning a letter of commendation during his service.

John Ballinger

Founding Partner

John Ballinger is founding partner at Part Time Business Partners, CEO at multiple risk management companies in Tennessee and a retired U.S. Army veteran, serving 21 years and achieving the rank of Warrant Officer.

John’s primary areas of expertise are risk assessment and mitigation, risk compliance issues and he serves as a legal and claims consultant for multiple corporations. He also advises companies on how to create succession planning for the owner’s business through vehicles like Employee Stock Ownership Plans.

Before starting Part Time Business Partners, John invested more than 20 years reviewing, establishing and implementing risk management programs for different companies throughout varying industries including airports, trucking and other transportation industries, as well as manufacturing, colleges and universities.

While helping his clients and maintaining chair positions at various companies, John now focuses his efforts advising business owners and managers on how to reduce their risk exposure and protect their investments, as well as creating and establishing a culture of personal growth using time tested and proven leadership fundamentals.

Douglas Ford Photo

Douglas Ford

Associate Partner

Douglas Ford has worked in a variety of leadership roles throughout his career. He graduated from Samford University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication. Starting as an Assignment Editor in Birmingham, AL, to becoming the Chief Marketing Officer of a text-based, telehealth company, Douglas has always found his success in helping others reach their potential.

Working with multiple community-based, nonprofits Douglas was able to help each organization reach new funding levels and grow community awareness of the organizations and their missions.

Douglas has also spent considerable time entrenched in the legislative process as a staff member in the South Carolina State Senate. He managed legislation through the committee process, guided the handling of the bill on the Senate floor, and eventually saw much of the legislation he shepherded become law.

Now, Douglas has teamed up with a group of like-minded executives, who have dedicated themselves to using their collective experiences to help build successful organizations.

Doug Cox

Doug Cox

Associate Partner

Doug Cox has been a licensed, practicing attorney in Chattanooga since 1987.  He received his undergraduate degree from East Tennessee State University and his law degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Doug was also an owner/operator of a 75 seat restaurant for years prior to pursuing his law degree.

Doug has been a partner at Dreaden and Cox since 2002.  The firm focus has been a general civil practice with emphasis on civil litigation, personal injury, workers compensation, social security disability, construction law and administrative law.

Prior to Dreaden and Cox, Doug served with the Chattanooga City Attorney’s Office from 1990 through 2002.  His duties and responsibilities included drafting contracts, resolutions and ordinances, advising departments and administrative boards (Board of Zoning Appeals, Beer and Wrecker Board, Sign Variance Board), and litigation involving the defense of civil suits in state and federal court.

Now entering into his “Act 3”, Doug is keenly aware of his role as an advisor in a fiduciary capacity. He now strives to minimize the potential for future conflicts on his clients, but welcomes being a part of the solution should a conflict arise.