When Fred E. Carl Jr., Gene D. Carlisle, Howard D. Catchings and Robert W. Pittman receive their 10-inch tall engraved, crystal obelisks on May 6, it will mark the 13th time that the Junior Achievement has inducted businesspeople into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame.
Carl, of Viking Range Corporation in Greenwood, Carlisle, of Carlisle Corporation in Memphis, Catchings of Transamerica Life Insurance/Catchings Agency in Jackson and Pittman, of AOL Time Warner in New York, will join the 47 other Hall of Fame laureates. A 17-person selection committee made up of business leaders and educators from universities around the state chose the four from more than 100 nominations that were submitted statewide.
“We were very pleased,” said Tom L. Tabereaux, president of Junior Achievement of Mississippi. “It’s really been enlightening the number of people who’ve made a significant impact on Mississippi. We’re just grateful for the opportunity to recognize these outstanding individuals for their accomplishments and their impact on Mississippi.”
Catchings a busy man,
but still making time for
civic, professional organizations
Howard Catchings, owner and general agent of Transamerica Life Insurance/Catchings Agency, began selling insurance on a part-time basis in 1967. It wasn’t long before he made the decision to work in the industry full time. Initially Catchings worked for someone else but in the early 1970s he decided to open his own agency. Since that time it has grown to more than 20 employees, generating policies worth millions of dollars annually.
Catchings is a busy man, but he still makes time for his numerous civic and professional organizations. Catchings is past board chair of First American Bank, MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement, Jackson State University National Alumni Association, and is president-elect of the Rotary Club of Jackson. He has also served on the board or as the director for St. Dominic Health Services, Hinds County Economic Development Foundation, Leadership Jackson, Mississippi Symphony and Mississippi Economic Council.
“At this point I’m kind of numb and don’t want to believe that it’s actually happening,” Catchings said of the news of his upcoming induction into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame. “It’s something you don’t expect to have happen to you.”
Carlisle active in business, community
Gene D. Car-lisle’s first job was in sales with Reynolds Metal Company. He later joined Union Oil Company. After serving as director of marketing and development with Alodex Corporation, and at Kemmons Wilson’s request, Carlisle moved to the Kemmons Wilson Organization, becoming director in charge of all real estate development and property management.
In 1974, Carlisle founded Carlisle Properties LTD, which managed and developed apartments and office buildings, including several apartment complexes in Clinton, Miss. He established Wendelta Inc. in 1975 and opened his first Wendy’s restaurant. By 1982 Carlisle had become the sole shareholder of 12 Wendy’s restaurants.
Throughout his life, Carlisle has been a supporter of the University of Southern Mississippi where he serves on the university foundation’s board of directors and as the chairman of the Business Advisory Council. In 1999 he donated a Wendy’s restaurant to the university. It was promptly leased back to the Carlisle Corporation, with the university collecting nearly $100,000 to use for scholarships. In 2001 the university sold the restaurant back to the Carlisles for $700,000. Carlisle received the 2002 Distinguished Alumni Award from the university’s College of Business Administration for his efforts with the university.
When asked about his upcoming induction into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame, Carlisle replied, “I’m really flattered and delighted.” Carlisle did not even know he had been nominated for the Hall of Fame until he was chosen. “What a prestigious group of people to be associated with,” he said.
Carl flattered to be
included in Hall of Fame
Fred E. Carl Jr., president and CEO of Viking Range Corporation and Viking Capital Ventures, said the news of his upcoming induction into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame came as a complete surprise.
“I’m not into recognition and attention at all so I accepted it very reluctantly,” Carl said. “In fact, I gave serious thought to not accepting. However, I do very much appreciate this very nice honor and being thought of in this way, especially by my fellow Mississippians. I am very flattered to be included in such a distinguished group and feel honored to be among those who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame over the years.”
What gives Carl the greatest pleasure is being able to contribute to his home state in whatever way he can to help the economy and to help project a positive image of Mississippi. His company, Viking Range Corporation, has certainly helped to provide that positive image and economic environment for Mississippi. The business, which Carl opened in 1989, has been the recipient of numerous industry awards and has distributors in more than 25 countries outside of the U.S. and Canada. Carl is in the process of creating a Viking Europe Division.
Carl serves on the advisory board of Trustmark National Bank in Greenwood, the advisory boards of the School of Architecture and the College of Business at Mississippi State University and serves on the executive committee of the Mississippi State University Foundation. He has also served on the boards of the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development and the Greenwood-Leflore County Economic Development Foundation. He has won numerous awards for his entrepreneurial leadership as well as his commitment to community service.
Pittman’s induction into
Hall of Fame ‘source of great pride’
Robert W. Pittman, co-chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner Inc., is well known as the creator of MTV. He charted new territory in radio, television and cable network programming, as well as the theme park industry and real estate, while building branded consumer businesses as the CEO of MTV Networks, Quantum Media, Time Warner Enterprises, Six Flags Entertainment and CENTURY 21 Real Estate Corporation. Pittman was a member of America Online Inc.’s board of directors beginning in 1995 and was appointed president and COO of AOL prior to the company’s merger with Time Warner.
Pittman finds his involvement in community service to be equally important to his career. He serves on the boards of the New York University School of Medicine, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Alliance for Lupus Research, Millsaps College, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., New York City Ballet and New York Shakespeare Festival, where he also served as board chairman.
“My induction into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame is a source of great pride to my family and me,” Pittman said. “What makes this award so special is that it comes from people who were and still are so critical to everything that I have accomplished.”
Selection of new inductees no easy task
Dr. Ervin Martin, interim chair for the business administration division at Belhaven College, served on this year’s Mississippi Business Hall of Fame selection committee.
“There were outstanding nominees,” Martin said. “I counted about 12 that I wanted to nominate. Whoever consolidated the tabulation of the final numbers and had to synthesize and filter them out had a difficult task.”
Martin said he is impressed with Junior Achievement of Mississippi and the organization’s efforts to recognize the contributions of business professionals.
Jim Rawls, chairman of this year’s Mi
sippi Business Hall of Fame event and CEO of Rawls Resources Inc., said each of this year’s inductees bring something special to the ta