Michael T. Strickland grew up in Kingsport and was one of three children of Thomas and Marion Strickland. In his youth, Michael played football, basketball, was an Eagle Scout, was twice president of his Junior Achievement companies and was an avid church member. In 1968, at age 12, while in junior high school, Michael started what would become his life long passion and his company, Bandit Lites
. After graduation from Dobyns-Bennett, Michael moved the firm to Knoxville and began college at the University of Tennessee
. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and then attended the University of Tennessee Law School
. The company continued throughout college and has existed ever since under Michael’s guidance and ownership.
Bandit Lites has been named Lighting Company of the Year
over 25 times. Through the years, artists such as Garth Brooks, The Monkees, Alice Cooper, Jimmy Buffett, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Alan Jackson, Pink, Carrie Underwood, Queen, Neil Young, Jason Aldean, REM, Widespread Panic, Barry Manilow, Toby Keith, Kenny Rogers, Def Leppard,One Republic, Prince, Alabama, Amy Grant, Ringo Starr, The Judds, Brooks and Dunn, The Moody Blues, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Blondie, Stevie Wonder, Boyz to Men, Frank Sinatra, Little Big Town and hundreds of others have worked with Michael and Bandit Lites for all of their lighting needs. Bandit Lites now has offices globally in Knoxville, Nashville, Charlotte, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In 1999, CNN USA Today named Michael as Entrepreneur of the Year and Mass Mutual awarded Bandit Lites the Blue Chip Award as one of America’s top companies. Michael’s awards include: East Tennessee, Nashville, and CNN USA Today Business Hall of Fame, East Tennessee Entrepreneur of the Year, Knoxville Chamber Pinnacle Business Excellence Award, UT College of Business Distinguished Alumni, UT Accomplished Alumni, UT Alumni Association Service Award, UT Development Council Service Award, Belmont University Robert E Mulloy Award of Excellence, Knoxville Mayors Award, Keys to the City of Kingsport, led Knoxville Chamber to National Chamber of the Year, Society of International Business Fellowship Award, Nashville Future 50 Company of the Year, Knoxville Future 50 Company of the Year, Knoxville Chamber Excel Award, Knoxville Family Friendly Company Award as well as being named the World’s Best Lighting Company 25 times.
Michael has chaired and served on many Boards some of which include: Knoxville Chamber of Commerce
Board of Directors, Leadership Knoxville & TN Advisory Board, UT Development Council, UT College of Business Giving Campaign, American Heart Association Heart Gala, Sertoma Friendship Diner, UT Medical Center Board, UT Chancellors Advisor, UT President Council, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Board, Bijiou Theater Board, Pellissippi State Foundation Board, Tennessee Film, Music & Entertainment Commission, Inaugural Class of Leadership Tennessee, Leadership Knoxville Graduate, Knoxville Homeless Taskforce, Junior Achievement Board and many others. Michael supports over 100 different charities annually. A large part of Michael’s time is now spent helping others through a number of different avenues.
Michael has two children, Chase and Cole, who are the most special people in his life. Michael, the love of his life, Allison and the boys live in Knoxville.