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.


Attorneys Batts And Taylor Elected To Lead State Drug Court Association

The Tennessee Association of Drug Court Professionals has elected attorneys Kevin Batts and Richard Taylor to leadership positions in the statewide group. Mr. Batts will serve as president and Mr. Taylor will serve as vice president of the association in 2015. Mr. Batts is director of the Drug Court in the 23rd Judicial District, serving five counties of Middle Tennessee. He ... (click for more)

Karen Tindell And Kelly Still Join Southern Community Bank

Robert Stahl, Chattanooga city president of Southern Community Bank, announced Karen Tindell and Kelly Still have joined the Chattanooga branch. “Karen joins the staff as assistant vice president and Kelly joins the staff as a commercial lender,” said Mr. Stahl.  “Together Karen and Kelly collectively have over 50 years’ experience in the financial industry with regional ... (click for more)

2 Suspects Sought In Armed Robbery At Highway 153 Long John Silver's

Police are searching for two suspects in an armed robbery that happened Friday morning. At approximately  8:10  a.m. the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 5317 Highway 153 for a robbery at the Long John Silver's.  Officers discovered that two black men, wearing hoodies and masks, entered the Long John Silver's and forced the assistant manager ... (click for more)

Fire Causes $30,000 In Damages At Scenic City Concrete

Chattanooga firefighters responded to a reported structure fire shortly after  10 p.m. Thursday  at Scenic City Concrete Pumping, at 2903 South Orchard Knob Ave. Captain Donny McMillian with Engine 9 said smoke was visible when the first firefighters arrived. Captain McMillian said the firefighters had to force their way through a locked gate and into the building, ... (click for more)

Please Don't Close The Piccadilly Cafeteria At Hamilton Place - And Response

Oh, no. The Piccadilly Cafeteria at Hamilton Place is closing.  Its last day is Christmas Eve.  I will miss the great food they have there but most of all I will miss their servers, cashiers and waitresses.  They are all so friendly and accommodating.  They make it like it’s a home-style restaurant. I sure wish there was some way that Hamilton Place and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: God Bless Cathy & Co.

The secret to the whole thing is not getting caught but somebody at the Toys R Us store in Framingham, Mass., had a camera when Cathy O’Grady was very quietly paying off all the layaway balances at the popular location last week. The picture snaked its way onto social media sites and her friends quickly recognized the area’s most famous “layaway angel.” Then somebody in nearby ... (click for more)