MBQ CEO of the Year Awards, 1-50 Employees
J.W. Gibson, winner of the MBQ CEO of the Year Award 2014, 1-50 employees
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MBQ CEO of the Year Winner, 1-50 Employees:
J.W. Gibson, Gibson Company
James Wesley “J.W.” Gibson’s executive career began in 1991 while he was working for MLGW. “The job wasn’t fulfilling, and so I began searching for other opportunities.” He knew Memphis and the Mid-South region was a hub for the healthcare industry, but he discovered that there was no locally owned distributor of medical supplies and equipment to service that industry.
Using his mother’s garage as a warehouse and his own bedroom as an office space, Gibson created The Premier Group, the first of three businesses that today make up the Gibson Companies, Inc.
After getting Premier Group off the ground, his position as president of the Minority Medical Supply Organization enabled him to lobby for small distributors to have equal access to the same GPO contracts with suppliers, leveling the playing field. Because of the logistics capabilities in the Mid-South, The Premier Group has the unique advantage of being able to deliver medical supplies at a moment’s notice, 365 days a year.
Gibson felt a strong desire to give back to his community, so he turned his attention to redeveloping unloved real estate projects, inspired by Dr. James Netters, the longtime pastor of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood, where Gibson is a member. “[Netters] had a dream to provide affordable housing for the aging congregants of the church in the Whitehaven neighborhood,” Gibson says. More recently, development projects include the James Lee House and the Chisca Hotel property, which will be a mix of residential units and commercial, retail, and restaurant space.
Perhaps the most unusual branch of the Gibson Companies trio is Tec-Print, the official printer of Tennessee Lottery tickets. When the lottery was passed in 2002, Gibson had al-ready done his research. “I didn’t know the first thing about printing lottery tickets, but I saw the opportunity and I did my homework and it paid off,” says Gibson.
Perhaps his greatest challenges have come from starting companies from scratch. “I had no previous experience — I was a neophyte — in the healthcare industry, and I had to learn the ropes in order to compete with established companies. But as a result I’ve become completely knowledgeable about what these companies do.” Gibson’s success comes from an unmatched willpower and a unique talent in seeing opportunity in Memphis. “Regardless of the challenges, I remain focused and get things done.”
As for the future, Gibson is certain about what he wants to tackle next. “I wanted to diversify in three areas [healthcare, affordable housing, and entertainment]. But I’m not completely satisfied with entertainment. There’s a void in the music industry here that needs to be addressed for local musicians.”
Additionally, he and his wife, Kathy Buckman Gibson (President of Buckman International), started the Gibson Charitable Foundation to improve the economic well-being of the Mid- South, enhance diversity, and help broaden the community’s cultural awareness. Gibson’s love of Memphis and the people here contribute to his drive for making it a better place.