Jim Steffner, Harry S. Probasco Inducted Into UTC College Of Business Entrepreneurship Hall Of Fame

Friday, April 11, 2014

Two Chattanoogans will be inducted into the UTC College of Business Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame on Thursday. Jim Steffner and the late Harry S. Probasco will join a group of individuals who represent the area’s entrepreneurial history and the innovators of today. 

The annual Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame event, presented by Miller & Martin, PLLC, is a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit in the Chattanooga region honoring local innovators and showcasing their success stories. 

“Each year, we come together to honor individuals who have made a lasting impact in and around Chattanooga,” said Dr. Robert Dooley, dean of the UTC College of Business. “This year, we honor two gentlemen who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and provide great examples of business leadership.” 

Mr. Steffner joined his family business, Electric Motor Sales & Supply, Inc., in 1964. In the last 50 years he went on to form two other companies and grow EMS into a regional supplier for electrical, mechanical power transmission and automation equipment.

In 1968, Mr. Steffner formed Electric Systems Inc., a company that designed and built electric drives and controls for the carpet, textile, paper and non-woven industries. In 1972, he formed Metal Systems, Inc. MSI designs and builds control panels and system centers with plants in Chattanooga and Houston, Texas. The company became the largest system center builder in the United States and a national and international supplier. Combined revenue for these companies is $136,000,000.

Mr. Steffner is also partner in Perimeter Property, which owns the Wheland and U.S. Pipe property on South Broad Street in Chattanooga as well as other manufacturing sites.

Mr. Probasco was a Chattanooga businessman, civic leader and entrepreneur.

Mr. Probasco was born Aug. 10, 1858, in Harrison, Ohio, and received his early education in Lawrenceburg, Ohio. The Probasco family had been bankers in Europe since the 16th century and Mr. Probasco began work in his father’s bank at age 17. In 1884, the Ohio River flooded Lawrenceburg and he moved to Chattanooga and established himself in the brokerage business.

In 1888, Mr. Probasco formed the brokerage firm of Wiehl, Probasco and Company.  The first year profits of $12,000 were encouraging but the financial community was concerned that the world markets were unstable.  A financial panic followed in 1890 and resulted in seven of the town’s banks collapsing. Wiehl, Probasco and Company survived and rechristened itself Bank of Chattanooga in 1900. 

In 1905, Mr. Probasco formed a new bank, the American National Bank with capital of $250,000.  The business grew from a modest storefront operation into a national bank with capital and surplus of $300,000. In 1911, the business of the American National Bank was sold to First National Bank and Probasco embarked for Europe with his wife and his son.

Upon his return to America, Mr. Probasco, Ben Thomas (who founded the Coca-Cola Bottling Company) and E.Y. Chapin formed the American Trust & Banking Company on Jan. 15, 1912. Probasco served as president of this institution until his death on April 19, 1919.

“It’s special for us to be a part of this event,” said Jim Haley, chairman of Miller & Martin, PLLC. “Our firm has assisted many of our area’s first entrepreneurs and we’re pleased that many of today’s entrepreneurs also turn to us to assist them as they launch their businesses.  We believe our support of this very worthy effort is a great way for us to encourage the backbone of our economy: small business.”

Mr. Steffner and Mr. Probasco will be honored at a dinner where more than 200 community leaders, members of UTC faculty and students on Thursday are expected to celebrate their accomplishments.  To learn more about UTC’s Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, and to see a full list of inductees, visit http://www.utc.edu/college-business/news-events/annual-events/hall-of-fame/index.php.



Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events Nov. 27-Dec 1

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28 LCAA AM Regathering 7:30-9:00 a.m. Peet's Coffee:  819 Chestnut Street East Brainerd Council Meeting 11:30-1:00 p.m. Car Barn:  6721 Heritage Business Court Meetings cost $12. .............................. .............................. .............................. .... ... (click for more)

Unemployment Rate Inches Up In Northwest Georgia

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said on Thursday that Northwest Georgia saw the number of unemployed residents climb and its unemployment rte tick up in October. The October unemployment rate, at 4.3 percent, was up from 4.1 percent in September. The unemployment rate rose as the number of unemployed residents increased by 391 to 17,800. The October rate compares favorably ... (click for more)

Man, 21, Shot While Walking Along E. 19th Street

A 21-year-old man was shot Friday afternoon as he waked along E. 19th Street. The victim was identified as Quincy McConnell. Chattanooga Police officers responded to a local hospital on a report of a gunshot victim arriving for treatment. The victim arrived at the hospital via personal vehicle. He suffered a non-life threatening injury. The victim said he was ... (click for more)

$100,000 Powereball Winner In Greeneville

A Tennessee Lottery Powerball player in Greeneville woke up Thanksgiving morning a $100,000 winner.  The as-yet-unknown player matched 4 of 5 white balls drawn plus the Powerball in the Wednesday night drawing, which has a base prize of $50,000. Since he or she added the Power Play option for a dollar, the prize was multiplied by the Power Play number drawn, which was ... (click for more)

Stormwater Fiasco And East Ridge Camping

When did the Chattanooga City Council get replaced by members of the East Ridge City Council? I don't recall a time in Chattanooga where they've voted to shoot the city in the foot more than they have lately.  If this goes through despite the environmental impact warnings and then Camp Jordan has increased flooding after spending millions on sports ball fields, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

The best story this Thanksgiving comes from the New Jersey Turnpike where a very attractive young woman ran out of gas last month. Kate McClure had little cash on her as she began to walk towards the closest gas station in the pitch-black dark. But she didn’t get far before a homeless man, his beard ragged and clothes filthy, told her this was a bad place for her to be.  ... (click for more)