The privilege of being able to have dreams, ideas and goals come to fruition, is the core of what we are able to experience because of the freedoms that are ours in America.

-Denise Burnett Stewart

Small business drives the American Economy. It thrives and survives no matter what may be going on in the main economy.

-Dick Gadomski

Unless we promote entrepreneurship, we will not have an exciting business atmosphere in our country.

-Allen B. Morgan, Jr.

 What is an Entrepreneur?

Undeterred by failure, an entrepreneur sees value in going back to the drawing board, and realizes that every setback offers an opportunity for growth and reinvention. An entrepreneur is willing to work long hours, unafraid of taking risks, and determined to succeed.

An entrepreneur is often a sole proprietor, partner, or majority shareholder in an incorporated venture. An entrepreneur often works outside the structure and stability of an employer, and views this less secure career path as a challenge to be overcome rather than an obstacle to be avoided.

What it Takes to Be an Entrepreneur.

  • An entrepreneur takes charge, and is determined to create new initiatives, businesses or companies.
  • An entrepreneur develops or embraces new solutions, and is dedicated to transforming innovation into reality.
  • An entrepreneur maintains flexibility, and is willing to change direction, accelerate, slow down, or even stop a venture.
  • An entrepreneur remains accountable, and is responsible for the future of the company, project, or endeavor.
  • An entrepreneur passionately pursues goals, and is strong enough to persevere when challenges and difficulties arise.

Master Entrepreneurs

Meet those who have been awarded the status of Master Entrepreneur. These are the Men and Women who have made a lasting impact on their industries.

Hall of Honor

The Society of Entrepreneurs sponsors the Entrepreneurial Hall of Honor so that the region’s most exceptional entrepreneurs receive the recognition that is due them.

Entrepreneurs

Robert G Adams

Robert G Adams

Profile
KEVITT ADLER

KEVITT ADLER

Profile
DAVID S. ANDREWS

DAVID S. ANDREWS

Profile
JAMES L. BARKSDALE

JAMES L. BARKSDALE

Profile
RICHARD BARNHART

RICHARD BARNHART

Profile
L.D. BEARD

L.D. BEARD

Profile
JACK A. BELZ

JACK A. BELZ

Profile
E. BENARD BLASINGAME

E. BENARD BLASINGAME

Profile
RICHARD H. BODINE, JR.

RICHARD H. BODINE, JR.

Profile
BAYARD BOYLE, JR.

BAYARD BOYLE, JR.

Profile
MARVIN E. BRUCE

MARVIN E. BRUCE

Profile
GEORGE E. CATES

GEORGE E. CATES

Profile
BEN C. BRYANT, JR.

BEN C. BRYANT, JR.

Profile
ROBERT H. BUCKMAN

ROBERT H. BUCKMAN

Profile
KAREN BLOCKMAN CARRIER

KAREN BLOCKMAN CARRIER

Profile
HILLIARD CREWS

HILLIARD CREWS

Profile
STALEY CATES

STALEY CATES

Profile
PHILLIP G. COOP

PHILLIP G. COOP

Profile
WILLIAM B. COURTNEY

WILLIAM B. COURTNEY

Profile
GARY W. DODSON

GARY W. DODSON

Profile
HAROLD E. CRYE

HAROLD E. CRYE

Profile
FRED L. DAVIS

FRED L. DAVIS

Profile
JOHN HULL DOBBS

JOHN HULL DOBBS

Profile
TOMMY EARL

TOMMY EARL

Profile
LEWIS R. DONELSON

LEWIS R. DONELSON

Profile
CHARLES B. DUDLEY, III

CHARLES B. DUDLEY, III

Profile
WILLIAM B. DUNAVANT

WILLIAM B. DUNAVANT

Profile
JERRE MINOR FREEMAN, M.D.

JERRE MINOR FREEMAN, M.D.

Profile
RICHARD “DICK” GADOMSKI

RICHARD “DICK” GADOMSKI

Profile
GEORGE E. FALLS, JR.

GEORGE E. FALLS, JR.

Profile
FRANK L. FLAUTT, JR.

FRANK L. FLAUTT, JR.

Profile
HERMAN A. GILLIAM, JR.

HERMAN A. GILLIAM, JR.

Profile
HAROLD L. GWATNEY

HAROLD L. GWATNEY

Profile
THOMAS M. GARROTT

THOMAS M. GARROTT

Profile
CHARLES GERBER

CHARLES GERBER

Profile
HUEY L. HOLDEN

HUEY L. HOLDEN

Profile
SAMUEL B. HOLLIS

SAMUEL B. HOLLIS

Profile
Carolyn Hardy

Carolyn Hardy

Profile
O. MASON HAWKINS

O. MASON HAWKINS

Profile
J.R. (PITT) HYDE, III

J.R. (PITT) HYDE, III

Profile
FRANK INMAN, JR.

FRANK INMAN, JR.

Profile
BERNICE HUSSEY

BERNICE HUSSEY

Profile
DON HUTSON

DON HUTSON

Profile
FRED JONES, JR.

FRED JONES, JR.

Profile
ROBERT C. KHAYAT

ROBERT C. KHAYAT

Profile
L.R. JALENAK, JR.

L.R. JALENAK, JR.

Profile
DEAN JERNIGAN

DEAN JERNIGAN

Profile
DAPHNE T. LARGE

DAPHNE T. LARGE

Profile
PATRICK W. LAWLER

PATRICK W. LAWLER

Profile
JAMES F. KEEGAN

JAMES F. KEEGAN

Profile
Nat Landau

Nat Landau

Profile
R.E. LINKOUS

R.E. LINKOUS

Profile
IRA A. LIPMAN

IRA A. LIPMAN

Profile
SCOTT P. LEDBETTER

SCOTT P. LEDBETTER

Profile
DICK LEIKE

DICK LEIKE

Profile
JOHN R. MALMO

JOHN R. MALMO

Profile
DOUGLAS J. MARCHANT

DOUGLAS J. MARCHANT

Profile
Bob Loeb

Bob Loeb

Profile
NEELY MALLORY, JR.

NEELY MALLORY, JR.

Profile
DR. MARY MCDONALD

DR. MARY MCDONALD

Profile
ROBERT G. MCENIRY

ROBERT G. MCENIRY

Profile
R. BRAD MARTIN

R. BRAD MARTIN

Profile
JAY MARTIN

JAY MARTIN

Profile
CHARLES D. MCVEAN

CHARLES D. MCVEAN

Profile
Z. CHRISTOPHER MERCER

Z. CHRISTOPHER MERCER

Profile
PHILLIP H. MCNEILL, SR.

PHILLIP H. MCNEILL, SR.

Profile
JOHN MCQUISTON, II

JOHN MCQUISTON, II

Profile
G. SCOTT MORRIS

G. SCOTT MORRIS

Profile
PATRICK NEELY

PATRICK NEELY

Profile
ALLEN B. MORGAN, JR.

ALLEN B. MORGAN, JR.

Profile
HENRY W. MORGAN

HENRY W. MORGAN

Profile
DAN M. PALMER

DAN M. PALMER

Profile
DAVID C. PECK

DAVID C. PECK

Profile
BILLY ORGEL

BILLY ORGEL

Profile
JOSEPH ORGILL, III

JOSEPH ORGILL, III

Profile
WAYNE W. PYEATT

WAYNE W. PYEATT

Profile
RONNIE RANDALL

RONNIE RANDALL

Profile
JAMES M. PHILLIPS

JAMES M. PHILLIPS

Profile
G. DAN POAG, JR.

G. DAN POAG, JR.

Profile
FREDERICK W. SMITH

FREDERICK W. SMITH

Profile
RUDI E. SCHEIDT

RUDI E. SCHEIDT

Profile
ARTHUR N. SEESSEL, III

ARTHUR N. SEESSEL, III

Profile
DEBBI FIELDS ROSE

DEBBI FIELDS ROSE

Profile
ROBERT M. SOLMSON

ROBERT M. SOLMSON

Profile
HARRY L. SMITH

HARRY L. SMITH

Profile
KATHERINE HINDS SMYTHE

KATHERINE HINDS SMYTHE

Profile
GARY S. SHORB

GARY S. SHORB

Profile
BEN F. WARD

BEN F. WARD

Profile
MICHAEL S. STARNES

MICHAEL S. STARNES

Profile
SUSAN STEPHENSON

SUSAN STEPHENSON

Profile
JACK SODEN

JACK SODEN

Profile
PETER S. WILLMOTT

PETER S. WILLMOTT

Profile
PAT KERR TIGRETT

PAT KERR TIGRETT

Profile
HENRY M. TURLEY

HENRY M. TURLEY

Profile
DENISE BURNETT STEWART

DENISE BURNETT STEWART

Profile
ROBERT A. “BOB” WILSON

ROBERT A. “BOB” WILSON

Profile
JAMES L. VINING

JAMES L. VINING

Profile
ROBERT WANG

ROBERT WANG

Profile
WALKER UHLHORN

WALKER UHLHORN

Profile
CHARLES L. WURTZBURGER

CHARLES L. WURTZBURGER

Profile
TOM WATSON

TOM WATSON

Profile
JEFFREY G. WEBB

JEFFREY G. WEBB

Profile
SUSAN WANG

SUSAN WANG

Profile
WINSTON WOLFE

WINSTON WOLFE

Profile
DAVID WEDAMAN

DAVID WEDAMAN

Profile
WILLIAM H. WEST, M.D.

WILLIAM H. WEST, M.D.

Profile
STEPHEN A. WILSON

STEPHEN A. WILSON

Profile
SPENCE L. WILSON

SPENCE L. WILSON

Profile

In Memoriam

Robert B. Blow

Paradigm Capital Partners, LLC   Co-Founder Robert Blow was a man who surely knows well the value of entrepreneurship. He got his start in the world of radio, but in the 1980’s he saw a good thing and began to concentrate on telecommunications—in particular, the budding wireless and paging industries. During this period, Mr. Blow commenced an association with Mark Warner, which would lead to the launching of Columbia Capital, through which he became a leading consultant to cellular license holders and eventually brokered over $3 billion in transactions. By 1988, Mr. Blow’s entrepreneurial spirit led him and three partners to incorporate Columbia Cellular. He was instrumental in the success of the firm’s principal telecommunications investment business, which achieved an internal rate of return of nearly 200% during the ten-year period ending in 1998. He also played an integral role in taking three companies public. Furthermore, as a founder and general partner of Columbia Capital, he was instrumental in 1998 in raising approximately $400 million for Columbia’s second venture capital fund. Columbia Capital currently manages over $1.4 billion of private investment capital devoted to funding communications and information technology companies on a global basis. In 1999, Mr. Blow co-founded Paradigm Capital Partners, LLC, headquartered in Memphis, to capitalize on the need for early-stage investment and advisory opportunities throughout the Southeast. His investment instincts also led him to play a big part in the development of the Memphis Angels—a group of Memphis investors who evaluate and fund high potential, market-innovating companies with ties to the Southeast region. Mr. Blow’s civic contributions are as numerous as are his professional. He served...

Robert E. Cannon

Buckeye Technologies Chairman and CEO (retired)/Presiding Director “The essential entrepreneurial values are usually more innate than taught and include boldness, innovation, and speed.” Bob Cannon knew that in order to be successful, the true entrepreneur is likely to act on instincts that were developed in childhood. Mr. Cannon has done just that. In 1954 he joined Procter and Gamble and continued with them until 1991, serving in various sales, manufacturing and management positions. In 1993, he led a group that purchased P&G’s Buckeye Cellulose, which had been in existence since the early 1900’s. As Chairman and CEO, he renamed it Buckeye Technologies in 1997 and has led the company to become a global leader in the manufacture and marketing of specialty cellulose and absorbent products. Mr. Cannon retired as Chairman and CEO of Buckeye in June 2003 but remains on the Board as Presiding Director. Mr. Cannon’s dedication to the Memphis community has been virtually unmatched. He has served on the board of such organizations as the Greater Memphis Arts Council, the Memphis Orchestral Society, United Way of the Greater Mid-South, Future Memphis, Junior Achievement, and the Boy Scouts of America. Most notable, though, was the 2001 announcement of the largest gift ever to the Greater Memphis Arts Council – $5 million. The gift made possible the construction of Memphis’ new Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, which will be named in honor of Kitty and Bob Cannon and their family. Description of Business: Buckeye is a leading manufacturer and marketer of specialty cellulose and absorbent products. The company operates facilities in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Brazil. Its...

Carlos H. Cantu

The ServiceMaster Company President/CEO (retired) The ServiceMaster Company was recently named by Fortune as the country’s #1 most admired outsourcing company, and Carlos Cantu who served as the Senior Chairman, earned a great deal of credit for leading the company to where it is today. Carlos joined ServiceMaster in 1986, and he became CEO in 1994. Building upon the original franchise model, he worked to form an outstanding network of quality consumer service companies that operate under such well-known names as TruGreen-ChemLawn, Terminix, Merry Maids, American Home Shield and Rescue Rooter. Mr. Cantu’s business sense has proved invaluable to his peers, as he serves on a number of corporate boards, such as Exelon Corporation, First Tennessee National Corporation, and El Valor in Chicago. He was also quite active in the world of civic and charitable organizations. The honors he can count as his include the Horatio Alger Award in 1997, the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom in May 2000, and the Society of Entrepreneurs 2000 Entrepreneur of the Year. Description of Business: ServiceMaster is a portfolio of quality service companies operating under leading brands that currently include Terminix, TruGreen ChemLawn, TruGreen LandCare, American Residential Services, Rescue Rooter, American Mechanical Services, ServiceMaster Clean, American Home Shield, AmeriSpec, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic and The ServiceMaster Home Service Center. Year Business Founded: 1947 Year Inducted: 1992 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “The USA may aptly be described as the cradle of the free enterprise system. We are the most affluent country in the world today for two simple reasons: one, the men and women who have demonstrated the willingness to organize, operate and assume risk...

Gene D. Carlisle

Carlisle Corporation Chairman and CEO Founder of Carlisle Corporation, Gene Carlisle, owned and operated over 135 Wendy’s restaurants throughout Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina employing more than 4,000 people and topping $190 million in sales. By 1982, Carlisle founded Carlisle Corporation, which became the parent holding company for its subsidiaries Carlisle Properties, Carlisle Hotels, Inc., Carlisle Media, Wenstar and Wendelta, Inc. At that time, Carlisle Corporation owned and operated 12 Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburger Restaurants, 4 Holiday Inns and 2500 Apartments. In 2004, Carlisle received the Founder’s Award from Wendy’s International. This award is given to the franchisee who embodies the values of its founder, Dave Thomas has excellent operations, a strong marketing plan and an organization committed to employee development and community involvement. In 2004, Carlisle also received the prestigious Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Southeast Region. Gene Carlisle was inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame in 2002. Gene Carlisle was also very involved with the University of Southern Mississippi having served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Board of Director on the Athletic Foundation and as Chairman of the College of Business Advisory Council. He also was selected as the College of Business’ Outstanding Alumni of the Year and inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. Year Business Founded: 1972 Year Inducted: 2005 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “The world is in a constant state of change as is the pace at which we change. Entrepreneurial development of technology has increased the pace of change to mach speed. While the societies of the world adapt to these changes, each at...

Majorie Coleman

Coleman-Etter Fontaine Realtors Realtor (retired) Inducted into the Society of Entrepreneurs in 1994, Majorie Coleman has long been known as a trailblazer in the real estate world, and she has served as an inspiration to many who have followed in her footsteps. It all began in 1951, when she and Fran Etter announced their presence in a realm traditionally dominated by men, establishing Coleman-Etter, a real estate company that has proved extremely successful. These two women became the first women to own a local real estate company, and their determination forged a path for other women who would come along, ensuring a permanent change in the industry. These days, many women own their own companies, and in many firms, women hold the majority of the sales positions. When asked about entrepreneurship, Ms. Coleman was quick to say, “[it] keeps alive the American dream… You dream it. You make it happen.” Description of Business: Real estate agency with 40 agents and primarily residential listings in East Memphis, Midtown, Germantown, Cordova and Collierville Year Business Founded: 1951 Year Inducted: 1995 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘Entrepreneurship keeps alive the American dream. Entrepreneurship requires more than ‘the dream.’ It goes one step further. You dream it. Then you make it...

Joseph G. Costa

Delta Materials Handling, Inc. President and CEO In the mind of Joe Costa, an entrepreneur is someone who “has a strong desire to succeed, to be independent, to control his or her own destiny, and is willing to work hard.” A 1997 inductee into the Society of Entrepreneurs, Joe has proven beyond doubt that he spoke these words from experience. Since 1974, he has served as CEO, President and General Manager of Delta Materials, a company that distributes a complete line of materials handling equipment, such as forklifts, conveyor systems and all other warehouse products. Through his leadership of Delta Materials, Joe has seen the company’s sales and product offering multiply many times over – today the company ranks first in overall sales volume. Joe Costa was committed to giving his time to many civic organizations throughout Memphis, and he has ensured that his company has a reputation for doing the same. Delta Materials Handling is involved in such efforts as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Christian Brothers University. Joe himself is also involved in Youth Programs, Inc. Description of Business: Distributor of equipment, parts, service and rental covering the Greater Memphis marketing area with eight major lift truck lines and related warehouse and factory supplies. Year Business Founded: 1960 Year Inducted: 1998 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘If a person has a strong desire to succeed, to be independent, to control their own destiny and is willing to work hard, then they have the basic ingredients to become an entrepreneur.” For More Information:...

James H. Daughdrill

Prayers at Work Founder Rhodes College President (Retired) Although 27 years of his career were spent in education, for Dr. Jim Daughdrill the entrepreneurial spirit was not something he learned in a classroom – he had it all along. Jim served as the 18th President of Rhodes College from 1973 until 2000, during which time his untiring leadership touched the lives of many and earned him numerous distinctions. Prior to his tenure as Rhodes President, he served as Secretary of Stewardship of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, following his position as minister of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, AR. Before his entrance into the ministry he was a businessman in Cartersville, GA – president of carpeting manufacturer Kingston Mills, Inc. from 1958 to 1964. Dr. Jim Daughdrill’s style of leadership centered on giving of himself. He has served as chair of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and as a member of the board of the American Council on Education. Jim was appointed by the Secretary of Education to chair the National Advisory Committee on Accreditation of the U. S. Department of Education. He has served as president of the Southern University Conference and as president of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities. He has served as chairman of the Tennessee Council of Private Colleges and of the Southern College and University Union, as well as a director of the Tennessee Independent Colleges, the Chickasaw Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Memphis Partners, Inc., and the Liberty Bowl Football Classic. He has served as a trustee of the Hutchison School, Memphis University...

Humphrey E. Folk, Jr.

Folk Construction Co. President/Founder Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House President/Founder “Today’s entrepreneurs will be the pioneers of the next millennium. They must be bold enough to try anything and confident enough to think that they can succeed at everything.” For Humphrey Folk, boldness and confidence were traits that he often demonstrated. For 25 years, he was President and CEO of Folk Properties, and he led the company to be a leader in the construction, farming and real estate. However, in 1977, Humphrey lamented the fact that Memphis did not have a prime steakhouse, so he set off in a new direction and made it happen. Thus emerged what his family affectionately called “Folk’s Folly,” and a Memphis tradition was born. Folk’s Folly was recently named one of America’s Top Ten Steakhouses by the Tom Horan America’s Top Ten Club and is a recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Restaurants of North America award, an honor bestowed upon only 718 restaurants in North America. The restaurant also received in 1998 the Memphis Business Journal’s Small Business of the Year Award. Humphrey Folk’s community involvements included the Chickasaw Council of Boy Scouts of America, the Child Advocacy Center of Memphis, the Memphis Zoo, the Memphis Botanic Garden, the University of Memphis, Shelby State, and Vanderbilt University. Description of Business: Folk Construction Co.-Highway-heavy construction; marine construction/dredging Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House-Fine dining restaurant known for aged prime steak and personal service Year Business Founded: 1967 Year Inducted: 1999 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘Today’s entrepreneurs will be the pioneers of the next millennium. They must be bold enough to try anything and confident enough to...

Jabie S. Hardin

Hardin’s-SYSCO Founder “Hard work and honesty.” That what he said it takes, and that’s what Jabie Hardin has exemplified throughout his career with Hardin’s-SYSCO, which he founded in 1936 as Hardin Distributing Company. Hardin’s-SYSCO, which in 1972 joined the wholesale food distribution conglomerate known as SYSCO Corp., was originally a two-person operation. Through Jabie Hardin’s leadership, Hardin’s-SYSCO is today a major part of the largest marketer and distributor of food service products in the United States, serving more than 250,000 customers. Jabie Hardin’s entrepreneurial philosophy also centered on “giving back,” which has long been an important part of his life. He and his wife, Helen, have demonstrated their philanthropic values in many areas of the community. At the University of Memphis, they endowed a chair for the study of Economics and Managerial Journalism, as well as the Jabie Sanford Hardin III Chair of Excellence in Combinatorics, in honor of their son. Jabie Hardin also established the Jabie S. Hardin scholarship fund of Columbia County, GA, where he grew up. The Hardin’s philanthropy extends also to the Memphis Zoo. In 1993, he and his wife gave the largest individual gift in the zoo’s history at that time, which made possible the Helen and Jabie Hardin Primate Canyon. Description of Business: Wholesale distributor of food and food-related products and medical supplies to restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, retirement homes and other food service operations Year Business Founded: 1936 Year Inducted: 1997 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘I am a strong believer in the philosophy that if you take something from the land/community, you should also give/put something back. Hard work and honesty. Be very selective...

W.S. Howard

Millington Telephone Co. Owner & President W.S. “Babe” Howard has long been regarded as the most well known person in Millington, TN. His life’s work has been with Millington Telephone Company, a business his parents started in 1928. One of the last in a dying breed of small- town, independent telephone operations, the company was a lifeline for the people of Millington during the Depression, offering 24-hour service and refusing to cut off those who couldn’t pay their bills. In the early 1980’s, Babe brought a baseball diamond to Millington, a field where he has hosted the very best in amateur baseball from around the world. Most recently, he spearheaded an eleventh-hour effort to preserve a massive section of the Wolf River threatened by development. He also owned Old Timers restaurant, a place on which both Millington residents and visitors from far away depend for southern cooking. Babe civic involvements were numerous, including the TN Parks and Greenways board, the Millington Airport Authority board, the Federal Prison board, the Shelby County conservation board, the Millington Chamber of Commerce, and the Lions Club. Year Business Founded: 1928 Year Inducted: 1998 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘Make customers and community top priority. Let them know you care and get...

Richard H. Bodine, Jr.

The Bodine Company President (retired) In 1993, the Society of Entrepreneurs inducted Richard H. Bodine, recognizing him as an accomplished businessman and generous contributor to Memphis’ civic interests. With the 1962 inception of The Bodine Company in Collierville, Tennessee, Richard Bodine responded to advancements in the lamp/ballast industry by introducing a complete line of tubular and fluorescent ballasts for emergency lighting. Since that time, the Bodine Company has continued to lead the market, providing cutting-edge emergency lighting materials to factory builders through a nationwide network of manufacturer’s representatives and electrical distributors. The Bodine name has also become synonymous with special education in the Memphis area. Along with his late wife, Virginia, Mr. Bodine realized their dream of providing an educational facility dedicated solely to children with learning disabilities. The Bodine School was established in 1972 in the memory of their only son, Rick, who had been attending the Mills School in Florida. Located in Germantown, Tennessee, The Bodine School gives the chance for a good education to young people who may not have the opportunity to realize their potential in traditional systems. Description of Business: Electronic manufacturing Year Business Founded: 1962 Year Inducted: 1994 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘The willingness to believe in one’s self and take a chance to create something new is one of the things that always made this country special and contributed to its growth. I believe this is just as important now as it has been in the past.” For More Information:...

Frank M. Norfleet

NCRD Group, Inc. President & CEO “Being an entrepreneur not only offers opportunities for personal financial success, but of equal importance is the entrepreneur’s ability to give others employment and to make charitable gifts to those less fortunate.” For Frank Norfleet, the concept of entrepreneurship meant not only enjoying success, but also giving back to society. And he has done both. Most of his professional career has been with Parts, Inc., a family owned company in the automotive industry. As the Chairman and CEO, he grew the company extensively and was instrumental in creating such industry associations as the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association and the Automotive Information Council of New York. His list of civic involvements was extensive. He was a founding member of the Board of the Memphis-Plough Community Foundation, which became the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. He served two six-year terms as Justice of the Peace for the Shelby County Quarterly Court. His other involvements have included Rhodes College, University of Tennessee, Second Presbyterian Church, Elmwood Cemetery, the Memphis Zoological Society, and MIFA. He was a founding member of the Economics Club of Memphis. His list of honors is just as long. Recently, in 1999 he was honored by the State of Tennessee for his long history of giving back and working to improve Memphis and Shelby County. He also recently wrote his autobiography, which is entitled Blessings and Joys: The Life and Memories of Frank M. Norfleet, II. Description of Business: General business consulting, primarily in organization and financial planning. Year Business Founded: 1984 Year Inducted: 1997 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘We are blessed in this...

Harry J. Phillips, Sr.

Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc. COO, CEO, and Chairman The late Harry Phillips was a true pioneer in the modern waste management business. Realizing the efficiencies that could be achieved from consolidating what had historically been a fragmented, mom-and-pop industry under a single corporate roof, Phillips and a few others transformed the waste-disposal business into what it is today: a legitimate multi-billion-dollar international industry. Starting with a single garbage truck in 1956, Phillips built his first company, Memphis-based Patterson Services, Inc., into a formidable regional player. The fledgling Browning-Ferris Industries, based in Houston, would eventually purchase Patterson Services, largely to gain access to Phillips’ operational expertise, which he used to build BFI into a global powerhouse. Phillips served as COO, CEO, and Chairman of BFI for most of its 30-year existence and helped negotiate its sale to a competitor in 1999 for $9 billion. At the time of its sale, BFI was the second-largest waste-management company in the world, with revenues in excess of $6 billion and operations around the globe. Although BFI was headquartered in Houston, Phillips remained in his hometown of Memphis, commuting to Houston once weekly throughout his 30-year history with the company. Phillips was extremely well respected in the Memphis business community. Phillips served on the board of the National Bank of Commerce (now part of Sun Trust) for more than 30 years and at various times also sat on the boards of Morgan-Keegan, RFS Hotel Investors, Buckeye Technologies, and Buckman Labs. Phillips was a quiet but enormously generous member of the community. He is listed as a co-founder of the Children’s Museum of Memphis and was...

Sam Phillips

Sun Studio Founder Memphis disc jockey Sam Phillips wanted his own studio, a place where Southern rhythm and blues artists could record their music, the kind, as Phillips said, “where the soul of man never dies.” In 1949, Phillips bought a radiator shop at 706 Union Avenue and converted it into the place that would become rock and roll’s Plymouth Rock. With the motto “We record anything–anywhere–anytime,” the Memphis Recording Service and its label, Sun Records, were open for business. In 1953, on his day off from M. B. Parker Machinists’ Shop, Elvis Presley goes to Sun’s Memphis Recording Service, Where anyone willing to spend $3.98 could get an acetate disc and record the Ink Spot’s “My Happiness” as a present for his mother. On July 5, 1954, with Scotty Moore playing guitar and Bill Black slapping bass, Presley records “That’s All Right, (Mama).” Two days later the songs debuts on Memphis radio and Sun’s rise began. Yet there was more to Sun Records than Elvis. Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, Carl Mann, Bill Justis and Jerry Lee Lewis all shared the label during the Fifties. Ike Turner, a deejay from Clarksville, Mississippi, arranged a session with teenaged Jackie Brenston. Their version of “Rocket 88,’ recorded by Sam Phillips in 1951, is considered by many to be the first rock record. Carl Perkins sold two million copies of “Blue Suede Shoes,” making it the first rockabilly song to reach number one on the pop, country, and rhythm and blues charts. Jerry Lee Lewis recorded Sun’s most successful hits with “Great Balls Of Fire” and “Whole Lotta...

James H. Prentiss

River Oaks Investment Corp. President In Memphis, TN the name “Jim Prentiss” is synonymous with philanthropy, and total commitment to civic causes and the arts. Along with his wife, Carol, Jim has perhaps given more time and money to various organizations throughout the city than any other Memphian. Notably of late, the Prentiss’ $5 million donation to the Memphis Zoo in 1997 to kick off its new building program was one of the single-largest donations by a Memphian to a Memphis organization. Jim Prentiss got in the restaurant business, and he was president, chairman, and CEO of Shoney’s South, a major Shoney’s restaurant franchise that he founded in 1958. In 1988, Shoney’s South was sold; in 1989 he left the company, founded River Oaks Investment Corporation and began to devote his life to philanthropy. Mr. Prentiss’ involvements included the Memphis Zoological Society (chairman of the board), the Memphis Food Bank, United Way, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Rhodes College, Ballet Memphis, Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation, and Urban Youth Initiative Board. Mr. Prentiss was a 1992 inductee into the Society of Entrepreneurs. Description of Business: Money Management Year Business Founded: 1989 Year Inducted: 1992 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘Risking capital or borrowed capital is only the beginning. Total commitment to customer satisfaction is...

E.M. Radcliffe

Delta Ag. Ltd. President “The entrepreneurs of the United States must ensure that our nation continues to grow by generating new ideas and technology, instead of simply reacting to those of others.” E.M. Radcliffe’s thoughts about entrepreneurship focused on those particular traits that the entrepreneur should possess to make the American business community all that it can be – creativity, drive, integrity and a strong work-ethic all factor in. His professional path started in New Madrid County, Missouri, where he served in several political positions, including the Deputy County Tax Collector and the Circuit Court Clerk. From that point, E.M. immersed himself in the world of real-estate development. He began with E.M. Radcliffe individually, which became Radcliffe Investment Company, and later added Delta Title Company, Shawnee Farms, and Delta Ag. Ltd., which is now the most active entity. Throughout his career, his main interests have been in such real-estate ventures as farmland, mortgage banking, retail centers, vineyards, and a golf community. Mr. Radcliffe was a 1994 inductee into the Society of Entrepreneurs. Among his charitable interests were the Memphis Symphony and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. Description of Business: Buying, selling and the development of real estate, working with venture capital projects, and consulting for each of the above. Year Business Founded: 1958 Year Inducted: 1993 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘The entrepreneurship of the United States must keep this nation from becoming a service-oriented nation by becoming one that develops and manufactures new technology and...

S. Herbert Rhea

Rhea Financial Corporation President “Entrepreneurship is the foundation of the business world.” It can’t be stated more plainly than that, and few could demonstrate it better than S. Herbert Rhea, the 2001 recipient of the Master Entrepreneur Award given annually by the Society of Entrepreneurs to an outstanding member of the business community. Throughout his career, Mr. Rhea has contributed greatly to the financial community, working to “offer innovative ideas to enhance the financial well-being of clients.” He has served as a managing partner of The Rhea and Ivy CPA firm, President of SSM Corporation, President of the Tennessee Society of CPAs, and President of Rhea Financial Corporation. Mr. Rhea’s civic involvements include the Thomas W. Briggs Foundation, Second Presbyterian Church, Second Presbyterian Church Foundation, and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. He was also a Life Trustee of Rhodes College, from whom he received the 1980 Distinguished Service Medal and an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. Description of Business: Financial advisory services Year Business Founded: 1983 Year Inducted: 1992 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “Entrepreneurship is the foundation of the business world. Good entrepreneurs = good results; poor entrepreneurs = poor...

John J. Shea, Jr. M.D.

SHEA EAR CLINIC President/CEO “Entrepreneurship has never been more important in the U.S. than it is today…we must learn to live by our wits in this high-tech computer-driven world.” John Shea has done just that, ever since he came out of military service in 1952 and began to operate his father’s Shea Ear Clinic. Using his extraordinary talents and innovative instinct, he has grown the 75-year old institution to a major center for the diagnosis and treatment of ear diseases, one that people travel from all over the world to visit. The Shea Ear Clinic has pioneered in many areas of medicine, and it boasts one of the largest and most complete diagnostic facilities for the testing of hearing and balance disorder in the United States. Dr. John Shea’s vision has been about a lot more than just his practice. In 1957, he founded the Shea Ear Clinic Foundation to conduct research, teach other doctors and care for indigent patients. John’s efforts have helped to take the research and treatment of diseases of the ear to a completely new level. Description of Business: Clinic specializing in treatment of diseases of the ear, hearing and balance Year Business Founded: 1926 Year Inducted: 1992 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘Entrepreneurship has never been more important in the U.S. than it is today, because the U.S. has lost so many low-tech manufacturing jobs. We must learn to live by our wits in this high-tech computer-driven world.” For More Information:...

Willard R. Sparks

Sparks Companies, Inc. Founder/CEO “The single most important point in being a good entrepreneur is the willingness to give people responsibility and then hold them responsible for their decisions.” With this in mind, Willard R. Sparks has led the people of The Sparks Companies, Inc. in creating an organization that has proven to be a world leader in knowledge and understanding of the entire global agricultural system. With offices all over the world, Sparks Companies provides valuable research and consulting services to others in the agricultural and food industries – all of which Willard credits the talents and experience of his staff for making possible. Even though Willard Sparks’s professional talents were known worldwide, he has not forgotten about Memphis and dedicated a great deal of time to civic and cultural efforts at home. He has supported the Memphis Arts Council, The University of Memphis Board of Visitors and the Public Building Authority of Memphis and Shelby County. Additionally, he and his wife, Rita, announced that they had assumed 50% ownership of the Redbirds Management Company, Memphis’ own AAA baseball team, ensuring that the city will always be able to enjoy its new favorite pastime. Description of Business: Sparks Companies, Inc. is a world leader in comprehensive agriculture, food industry, agribusiness and commodity research, information and analysis and consulting. It provides unique insights and strategic and long-term planning for agribusinesses around the world. Headquartered in Memphis, the company has offices in Washington, D.C., Grand Rapids, MI, Canada and Argentina. Year Business Founded: 1977 Year Inducted: 1992 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘The single most important point in being an entrepreneur is...

Michael D. Rose

First Horizon National Corporation Chairman Gaylord Entertainment, Promus Hotel Corporation Chairman (retired) “We must see to it that our own spirit of entrepreneurship is burning as brightly as those who are embracing it for the first time.” For Michael Rose, there’s no such thing as sitting back and resting on one’s laurels – one must continue to innovate and grow, and that’s exactly what Michael is all about. Michael began his career as an attorney in Cincinnati representing one of Holiday Inns, Inc.’s largest franchisees. In the mid 1970’s he moved to Memphis with Holiday Inns, Inc., where he served in a variety of positions. As President, CEO and ultimately Chairman, Mr. Rose led the company in developing a strategic growth initiative that included acquiring the gaming company, Harrah’s Entertainment and developing the hotel products, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inns and Homewood Suites. When the Holiday Inn Brand was sold in 1990,the Promus Companies was formed, with Michael as Chairman and CEO. In 1995, the company was split into Harrah’s Entertainment and Promus Hotel Corporation, and he continued as Chairman of both until he retired from Harrah’s in 1996 and Promus in 1997. After a short retirement, Michael joined Gaylord Entertainment Inc. as Chairman in 2001. He recruited Colin Reed as CEO, and helped Colin bring in a new management team and formulate a new strategy focused on Gaylord’s unique convention hotel niche. He served until 2005 when he stepped down as chairman and continues to serve as an active member of the board of directors. In 2007, Michael was named chairman of First Horizon National Corporation, where he has...

Charles J. Vergos

The Rendezvous Owner “Go to work every morning and work hard.” It’s that simple in the eyes of Charlie Vergos, owner and founder of the world famous Rendezvous, a Memphis barbecue institution that is a regular stop for out-of-town visitors and natives alike. The Rendezvous was started in a downtown basement and today is 22,000 square feet and can (and often does) seat 700 people at a time. In its more than 50 years of existence, Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous has been largely responsible for giving Memphis the reputation for unbeatable barbecue. Charlie Vergos’ civic involvements include the Center City Commission, the Orpheum Development Foundation, Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Beale Street Commission, The Memphis Restaurant Association, MIFA Food Pantry, and the Boys Club of Memphis. Charlie was a 1994 inductee into the Society of Entrepreneurs. Description of Business: The Rendezvous Restaurant, began in a downtown basement, has grown to a 22,000 square foot operation seating 700 people. Not only is the barbecue well known to locals, but also it is a rare visitor to Memphis that does not stop in to eat and see what has become a Memphis landmark. Year Business Founded: 1948 Year Inducted: 1994 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘Go to work every morning and work...

Mickey Laukhuff Walker

For Mickey Laukhuff Walker, entrepreneurship was all about passing on the spirit – “giving our young people and others an incentive to reach their potential through their dreams, ideas, talents, hard work and ambitions…making this a better world to live in.” A founding member of the Society of Entrepreneurs, Ms. Laukhuff Walker was the first woman to own a stained glass company in the United States. She began working with glass during WWII when she ground prisms for bombsights, and thus found her true love. After the war, she worked at Binswanger Glass and in 1960 fulfilled her dream of having her own company when she created Laukhuff Stained Glass. Until she sold it in 1986, she created beautiful pieces for churches, homes, offices, restaurants, and hotels all over the world. Elvis Presley was one of her biggest fans, commissioning pieces for both the pool table and the front entrance at Graceland. Ms. Laukhuff Walker was truly an inspiration to entrepreneurs, particularly women. She wrote a book about her experiences in a time when very few women even worked. She persevered and grew her company to one of the top ten businesses in the industry. Ms. Laukhuff Walker has given of her time and talents to many organizations throughout Memphis, including the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis Symphony League, the Child Advocacy Center, the Pink Palace Museum, and the Memphis Arts Council, just to name a few. Description of Business: Design and make leaded, stained, faceted glass, etched and beveled glass and perform restoration work on all types of stained glass windows for homes, churches and commercial buildings...

Patricia P. Upton

Aromatique, Inc. President and CEO “Today’s entrepreneurship is not just a part of the nation’s economy, it is the driving force, the unbridled energy of creative endeavor.” Patti Upton has combined her love of fashion and art with her talent for business to create an innovative industry known as decorative fragrance. Aromatique, Inc., which she founded in 1982, has grown into a multi-million dollar international enterprise, and includes many fragrance lines, complete with accessories and decorative containers, and a full bath line. Aromatique has been featured on such shows as “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Patti Upton’s background in fashion and design enhances her personal creativity and eye for the unusual as she develops Aromatique’s product lines. A former Miss University of Arkansas, she also received the Stephens College Christian Dior Fashion Award, The Outstanding Student Award for the School’s fashion department, and was named “Best Dressed.” Patti has been recognized by her colleagues in the business community with numerous awards for her accomplishments. In 2000 alone, she received the Business & Professional Leader Award from Rotary International, as well as a listing in the Top 500 United States Business Women from Working Woman Magazine. She serves on the Board of Directors of AT&T, Inc. and serves on Public Policy and Human Resources Committees. Description of Business: Decorative fragrance and bath products manufacturing and distribution. Year Business Founded: 1982 Year Inducted: 1997 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘At the onset, entrepreneur held a meaning to me of a highly successful person. I quickly learned that it meant only that you were the organizer of an undertaking…no free lunches, no time...

Russel Lee Wiener

Pacco, Inc. Senior Advisor “Much of what we take for granted in our everyday living should make all of us more appreciative…for having entrepreneurs.” Russel Wiener, a 1992 inductee into the Society of Entrepreneurs, has a very basic philosophy about entrepreneurship – it’s the basic foundation of all that we know in today’s business world. Russel retired as President of General Mills Donruss Division and is the former President and is currently a senior advisor of Pacco, Inc., a family owned company that deals in agricultural products such as cotton, soybeans, wheat and corn. Russel Wiener’s beliefs about not taking anything for granted are exemplified in his continued involvement and leadership in a long, varied list of civic and charitable organizations. His commitments include the Assisi Foundation, the Joy of Music Foundation, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis Orchestral Society, the English Speaking Union, Memphis Opera Theatre, Rhodes College, Christian Brothers University, and the University of Tennessee Memphis Science Health Center. Description of Business: Agricultural products: Cotton, Soybeans, Wheat, and Corn Year Business Founded: 1950 Year Inducted: 1992 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘Entrepreneurship is the essence of economic statesmanship. The United States is the bedrock for men and women to be able to claim fame and fortune through their planning, forethought, inventiveness, talent and progressive seriousness to make an idea and/or ideas come to fruition… Enjoyment and the quality of our lives to the fullest extent is manifest in the multitude of services and products generated by the entrepreneurs …much of what we take for granted in our everyday living should make all of us more appreciative …for...

Kemmons Wilson

Kemmons Wilson, Inc. Chairman An honoree in the Society of Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Honor, the story of Kemmons Wilson’s Holiday Inns is one that is well known. It started in the summer of 1951 on a Wilson family vacation when Kemmons lamented the fact that it was nearly impossible to find affordable, reliable lodging. His idea was to build a brand name that could be trusted, one that a traveler could count on to be consistent in price and quality – thus the birth of the Holiday Inn motel chain. The first one was built in August 1952 on Summer Avenue in Memphis, and today Holiday Inns can be found all over the world. Kemmons Wilson has gone on to become one of the most respected businessmen in the nation, known as “The Father of the Modern Innkeeping Industry.” He has spent his career offering tips for success to entrepreneurs with their own dreams. He said, “The business world of today, and the future, will always have a place and need for entrepreneurs. I cannot imagine how we can achieve true progress without them.” Description of Business: Hotels, shopping centers, apartments and homebuilder Year Business Founded: 1935 Year Inducted: 1992 Thoughts on Entrepreneurship: “‘The business world of today, and the future, will always have a place and need for the entrepreneur, I cannot imagine how we can achieve true progress without them. It is the entrepreneur who takes the risks necessary to turn new ideas into realities. A person has to take risks to achieve. These very risks inspire creativity and the desire to succeed-two of the most important...