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MBJ BUSINESSPEOPLE OF THE YEAR: NOTEBOOK

Eagle Scout rank gives lessons in perseverance 

Scouting had a big part in the early lives of Walton Gresham III, Tom Gresham and Bill McPherson. All three attained the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement award in Boy Scouts of America and a designation that can often take years to achieve. Here the three executives relate how Scouting has shaped their lives and character:

Walton Gresham III

If you look at the oath it is very similar to how I was raised in church. It is about duty to God and country, duty to others, and duty to self. The 12 laws are in line with what Christ taught us in the Bible. Life is actually pretty simple; God has loaned us a short amount of time and possessions and asks us to give him back a portion and charged us to leave this Earth a better place for the people who follow us.

Tom Gresham

Perseverance – and learning to work together to meet a goal. All three of us were fortunate to have Leslie Fletcher as our Scout Master. Leslie had over 100 boys obtain the rank of Eagle — a remarkable feat for a small Delta town. Our troop is still active and sponsored by the Indianola Rotary Club. The community of Indianola honored Leslie by funding the naming of a road at the Chickasaw Council Boy Camp.

Bill McPherson

My Eagle scout experience was that I learned if I ever started something I couldn’t quit. My Dad taught me that when I wanted to quit Scouts along with a couple of other things. I passed along the “no quit” rule to my kids. I am glad Dad made me stick it out.

» READ MORE: MBJ BUSINESSPEOPLE OF THE YEAR — GRESHAM PETROLEUM

» READ MORE: Crystal ball cloudy on long-range future of petroleum marketing

A look at the key operators

The Mississippi Business Journal asked Walton Gresham III, Tom Gresham and Bill McPherson to name employees of Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick who are central to the success of the companies. Here are their selections:

» GRESHAM PETROLEUM

Rod Veazey, VP of operations; Chip Moore, general manager; Bill Cook, CFO; J. J. Pannel, director of operations; Paul Cash, Arkansas director of operations; Wallace Vance, driver; Thomas Horne; driver; Paul Sheffield, driver; Wayne Aldridge, driver; Joe Boyer, driver; Dwight Boone, driver; Jimmy Harper, driver; John Gilbert, service department; Lonnie Jones, service department; Buddy Deaton, service department; Leigh Ann Vance, accounting; Renee Chrismond, accounting; Linda Steed, accounting; Audine Everett, accounting.

“We have a group of long, long time employees who really do the work and lead the younger team members,” said Walton Gresham III, Gresham Petroleum president, “Wallace Vance has been driving a transport since 1979 for us and is the leader in getting fuel delivered and developing new drivers.”

» DOUBLE QUICK

Barry Schuster, CFO; Rick Beuning, VP of Food Service; Tom Jennings, VP of Operations; David Cobb, director of maintenance and construction; Howard Hyche, VP of IT; Cindy Saia, director of marketing.

 

Spare time pursuits

On college football Saturdays you will likely find Walton Gresham III and his brother Tom in the stands at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium cheering on the Ole Miss Rebels. Cousin Bill McPherson heads for Bulldog Country to root for Mississippi State, his alma mater.

Walton and Tom grew up in an Ole Miss family. Their father took in 90 percent of all UM football games and often took the brothers along.

“I went to my first UM-MSU game in 1957 and have only missed two since then,” Walton says. “I also enjoy UM baseball in the spring.”

Tom, a Southern Methodist University alum, sometimes travels to Texas on a college football Saturday. “We get back to Dallas and Austin on occasion for an SMU and a Texas football game,” he says.

You’ll likely find Bill heading for Starkville and dressed in the maroon and white of MSU on a college football Saturday. “I enjoy taking my 87-year-old mom to most of the home football games,” he says.

Bill’s other spare time pursuits are turkey hunting on the Mississippi River and in the hills and duck hunting on his farm in Inverness. Tennis is also a pastime.

Tom is a jogger. He started running his senior year at SMU and never stopped. His other recreational pursuits include hunting, slalom water skiing on Lake Ferguson and snow skiing.

Walton played a lot of tennis until a few years ago. Today, he values time with his young grandchildren. “I try to spend as much time as my grandkids will give me. I know when they hit the teen years I will be just a passing thought. I am taking them all to the Sugar Bowl and getting them trained to be good Ole Miss supporters.”

“We have a great team,” says Tom Gresham, Double Quick president.

“We have many great employees from team members to senior management,” says Bill McPherson, co-owner of Double Quick. “I’m especially proud that every DQ area manager began as a team member in a DQ store and were promoted to store manager then to area manager.”

— TED CARTER / MBJ

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