About Us


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Application Researchers® surpassed two decades of service to employers seeking backgrounding solutions in June of 2014.  Although the organization has realized managed growth since its inception, its success can only be measured in proportion to its humble beginning.


In June of 1989, Merri Mai Williamson began working as the Assistant to the President and the Human Resources Director of a light industrial firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Within one year, she had assumed all human resource functions, excluding compensation and benefits administration.  Ms. Williamson’s time was consumed with recruiting and training, leaving other important functions of her position incomplete.

Realizing the need for a stringent process by which applicants were recruited and screened, she developed an in-house screening process to remedy the situation.  Within the first year of implementation, the company’s attrition rate dropped by over 50%, which allowed time for many improved personnel services.

In 1993, Ms. Williamson’s success became noticed by other human resource professionals; and she began receiving external requests for assistance.  In December of 1993, with a completed business plan and marketing strategy, Ms. Williamson’s trial venture began part-time.  On June 15, 1994, as a sole proprietorship, Application Researchers® began full-time operations.  Working out of her 300-square-foot studio apartment, Ms. Williamson labored to educate Chattanooga companies on the need for pre-employment background investigations and the economics of out-sourcing. Two years later, Application Researchers®, as a licensed private investigative agency, had two full-time employees and rented space in downtown Chattanooga.  However, the growth doubled during the next year and tripled the following year, requiring further expansion.



In June 1998, Application Researchers® became a limited liability company and purchased its own building in the Southside district of downtown Chattanooga.



Today, Application Researchers® is the premier provider of backgrounding services in the Chattanooga region with over 1500 clients and a 95% retention rate, serviced by five full-time employees and over 300 contractual researchers.



The organization is led by its founder and Chairperson, Merri Mai Williamson, whose ownership equates to 100%.  The company is, therefore, a certified woman-owned business, operating in the state of Tennessee.  Further, Application Researchers® previously received the distinction of “Woman-owned Business Enterprise” by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council through their national certification program.



Better Business Bureau Torch Award
Business TN’s Hot 100 (most promising businesses)
Greater Chattanooga Business Ethics Award
Small Business of the Year Award


2004 torch award