Meghan O’Brien: Back home again

Beth KinnaneOur Town Neighbors

It took a few years before a young Meghan O’Brien landed in a place she could call “home.” Her itinerant childhood with her U. S. Air Force colonel father eventually landed her family in Knoxville upon his retirement from military service.

“We moved around a lot,” O’Brien said, counting six address changes before they settled in Tennessee.

O’Brien attended the Webb School of Knoxville, graduating in 2004 before going to Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. There she obtained her nursing degree in 2010 before following in her father’s footsteps and taking a direct commission into the Air Force.

USAF Captain Meghan O’Brien

Her tenure in the USAF as a captain in the Nurse Corps took her to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan in 2013. She said it was hard to find the right words to describe her time in a war zone, but said “I am very thankful for that opportunity.” Her six and a half years in the Air Force took her from San Antonio to Afghanistan to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Following her honorable discharge in 2017, she came back to Knoxville and threw herself into two master’s programs, pursuing her MSN and MBA degrees through the University of Texas-Tyler, completing both in May 2020. “I’m very fortunate I had the GI bill help with that,” she said.

While working on the MBA, she found that she really enjoyed the nitty gritty details of running a business. That led to her investing in the already established Bio Plumbing, and reorganizing it as an LLC with her now business and life partner, Jonathan Jackson.

“He is the master plumber,” O’Brien said. “That’s the part of the business he handles, it’s a business he started. His perfectionism and commitment to quality are why we get those 5-star reviews online. I’m very proud of that.”

While Jackson handles the hands-on work, O’Brien deals with the administration, from organizing and scheduling to financing and marketing. Taking on the business also allowed her to dabble in art, one of her other interests, in redesigning the logo, which represents the ethos of the business with its lake, mountains, trees and black bear.

“Bio is the root word for life,” she said, noting that many take the role of water and plumbing for granted. “It’s easy to overlook the importance of it, but it’s a cornerstone of modern civilization. You have a plumber to thank for that. In every job, we think about the ways to ensure clean water and to conserve it where we can. It’s not just about pipes.”

An outdoors enthusiast and nature lover, when not working, O’Brien would just as soon be riding a horse. She and Jackson have two American quarter horses, Blondie and Smoky, on their five acres, situated between Lenoir City and Farragut.

“We try to go trail riding every weekend, up in Big South Fork or in the Smokies. It’s the best,” she said, adding with a laugh, “otherwise we’re trying to better people’s lives through plumbing.”

Beth Kinnane is a freelance writer and thoroughbred bloodstock agent.

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