Business Hall of Fame

If all of the individuals featured in the pages of this special issue of MBQ are “players,” then those featured on this particular list, the MBQ Business Hall of Fame, compose our city’s business all-star team. And what a dream team it would be, with the top players from such diverse and important industries as real estate, transportation, advertising, investing, fashion, hospitality, banking, security, and — two classic institutions in our city — cotton and music, to name but a few. Here’s a list of 15 Memphians whose achievements over the past several decades have done more than bring them personal and professional success; these are people who have truly changed the face of the city. They’ve put their unique stamp on Memphis and offer a shining example of what is possible for the generations of Memphians that follow in their footsteps.


Jack Belz
Chairman and CEO, Belz Enterprises. One of the South’s largest commercial real estate firms. Pioneered the factory-outlet mall concept. Renowned for work on development of The Peabody and Peabody Place. Master Entrepreneur Award, Society of Entrepreneurs, and Junior Achievement; Lifetime Achievement Award, the Center City Commission. Founder, Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art. Partnered with Henry Turley in Harbor Town and other downtown projects.


William B. Dunavant
Founder and former CEO, Dunavant Enterprises. B.B.A., University of Memphis. Widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost experts on cotton and commodities trading, with holdings around the world. Inducted into Futures Industry Association’s Hall of Fame. Founder, The Racquet Club of Memphis, and brought major-league tennis to Memphis. Avid hunter, sportsman, and philanthropic patron of Ducks Unlimited and the Memphis University School.


Art Gilliam
Chairman and President, Gilliam Communications, Inc. B.A., Yale University; M.B.A., Michigan. Founded WLOK, first black-owned radio station in Memphis, in 1977. Named many times #1 Gospel Station in nation by Religion & Media Quarterly. WLOK recognized as a Tennessee Historical Landmark. Inducted into Society of Entrepreneurs. Longtime sponsor of WLOK Stone Soul Picnic. Received 2011 Visionary Award from Downtown Memphis Commission.


O. Mason Hawkins
Chairman and CEO, Southeastern Asset Management, Inc. B.A., University of Florida; M.B.A., University of Georgia. Noted value investor, operates one of the most successful mutual-fund families in the world, founded in 1975; has been called “the Warren Buffett of the South.” Seeks to own highly competitive businesses “managed by honorable and capable people.” Inducted into the Society of Entrepreneurs, 1996. Played key role in NBA Grizzlies’ move to Memphis in 2000.


J.R. "Pitt" Hyde III
President, Hyde Family Foundations. Founded AutoZone in 1979, now nation’s premier auto-parts distributor. Inductee, Automotive Hall of Fame. Philanthropic activities include support for Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Ballet Memphis, ArtsMemphis, and Memphis in May. Helped found Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Memphis Tomorrow, and the National Civil Rights Museum. Primary sponsor of AutoZone Park and helped bring the NBA Grizzlies to Memphis.


Ira A. Lipman
Founder and Chairman, Guardsmark, LLC. Recipient, 1996 American Business Ethics Award. Founding Chairman, Memphis Shelby Crime Commission. Recipient, 2002 Stanley C. Pace Award for Leadership in Ethics. Honorary Life Chairman and former National Chairman, National Conference of Christians and Jews. Honorary Chair, past National Chairman, and Chairman Emeritus, National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Established John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, presented in conjunction with Columbia University.


John R. Malmo
Chairman Emeritus, Archer Malmo, Inc. Educated, Boston University; Entrepreneurial Fellow, University of Memphis. Founded John Malmo Advertising in 1967, and long a major player on the local advertising scene. Former President, Memphis Advertising Federation; former Director, American Association of Advertising Agencies. Recipient, American Advertising Federation Silver Medal Award, 1990. Newspaper columnist, radio commentator, and author of Monkey Is King.


Jim McGehee
Former Chairman, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. Successfully secured Northwest Airlines hub status for Memphis and inauguration of transatlantic service. Director, Financial Strategy Group Investment Management and Pinnacle Airlines. Former CEO, McGehee Realty and Development Company and McGehee Mortgage Company. Served on Baptist Memorial Advisory Board, Rhodes College Board of Trustees, and Campbell Clinic Foundation.


Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Regions Morgan Keegan, Inc. Launched Morgan Keegan in 1969; took company to national prominence as leading investment firm in the South. Firm merged with Regions Bank in 2001 and was acquired by Raymond James in 2012.  Named “Entrepreneur of the Year,” Society of Entrepreneurs in Memphis, 1994. One of the three outstanding CEOs in the securities industry, Financial World magazine, 1995. Former Chairman, Securities Industry Association, 2002.


Songwriter, singer, and record producer. Grew up in South Memphis, and was an integral part of the Stax Studio success of the 1960s and ’70s. Along with Isaac Hayes wrote numerous soul classics including more than 100 Billboard chart hits for Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Lou Rawls, and others. Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2005. Heavily involved in Memphis small-business enterprises, particularly at Memphis International Airport, where live music is a fixture at his restaurants.


Chairman, First Horizon National Corporation. Succeeded Kemmons Wilson as CEO of Holiday Inns, 1981. Expanded company brand to include Harrah’s Casinos, Crowne Plaza, and Hampton Inns. Split off Harrah’s and formed Promus Companies, 1990. Named one of “Corporate America’s 10 Outstanding Directors,” 2000. Civic involvement includes Mike Rose Soccer Complex and sponsorship of the Michael D. Rose Theatre at the University of Memphis.


Founder, Chairman, President, and CEO, FedEx Corporation. B.A., Yale University. Launched Federal Express, 1973. Since then, FedEx has become a Memphis institution and a global economic powerhouse. First implementer of the airport-hub concept, and pioneer of the “Just In Time” inventory concept. Co-Chairman, Energy Security Leadership Council. Trustee, U.S. Council for International Business. Member, Aviation Hall of Fame. Consistently named one of Barron’s “World’s 30 Best CEOs.” Chief Executive magazine’s 2004 CEO of the Year.


Chairman and CEO, Pat Kerr, Inc. International fashion designer whose design firm specializes in bridal couture, with offices in London, New York, and Memphis. Widow of financier and philanthropist John Burton Tigrett, and a longtime “player” on the city’s music and cultural scene. Founded the Blues Ball, 1994, an annual festive salute to all forms of Memphis music, providing insurance benefits for Memphis’ legendary musicians and supporting children’s charities.


Founder, Henry Turley Company. Real estate developer and “new urbanism” pioneer at the center of the downtown Memphis “renaissance” of the 1990s. Conceptualized and created nationally acclaimed mixed-use Harbor Town community on Mud Island, 1985, now home to several thousand residents. Developed similar communities at South Bluffs and Uptown Memphis, where mixed-income housing replaced urban blight. Founding Member of the Society of Entrepreneurs.


President and Chairman, Tri-State Bank of Memphis. Educated at University of Chicago, and succeeded his father, Jesse Turner Sr., as Tri-State Bank head in 1990. Founded in 1946 to serve the African-American community in the Mid-South, Tri-State played an influential community role in the civil-rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. Operates own CPA firm. Member of Christian Brothers High School Hall of Fame. Recently re-elected National Treasurer of the NAACP.

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