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.


Corker Asks Colleagues To "Oppose Blatant Budget Gimmick Proposal To Fund Highway Trust Fund"

In remarks on the U.S. Senate floor Monday, Senator Bob Corker said senators should reject using a budget gimmick known as pension smoothing to pay for a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund and instead commit to a long-term, sustainable solution to highway funding. “Many claim that budget gimmicks should not be used as offsets to pay for spending," said Senator Corker. ... (click for more)

Cornerstone Community Bank Has Rise In Earnings

Cornerstone Bancshares, Inc. (OTCBB: CSBQ; CSBQP), parent company of Cornerstone Community Bank, today reported earnings for the second quarter ended June 30, including a rise in income. Net income for the quarter was $409,000, a 3.3 percent increase from the same quarter of 2013.  Net interest income increased 5.5 percent from the same quarter last year. “Cornerstone ... (click for more)

EPB Says It Did Not Overbill The City; Says City Got $685,877 Break

EPB officials said Tuesday that an exhaustive audit of its street light contract with the city showed that it did not overbill the city. Instead, it said it found that the city was underbilled $685,877. EPB said it only goes back one year on errors so the amount owed by the city would be $178,314. Officials said that would be discussed with the city. Stan Sewell, the city's ... (click for more)

Citizens To Comment Next Tuesday On Sound Control Ordinance That Allows Higher Sound Around Downtown Clubs

Citizens will be allowed to comment next Tuesday on a new Sound Control Ordinance that allows higher sound from nightclubs in a downtown Controlled Sound Boundary. Track 29 behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo, that has drawn the wrath of some nearby Southside residents, is within the boundary, which goes along the river on the north and west, to around Erlanger Hospital on the ... (click for more)

I'm Number One In A Round About Way

Roundabouts have been popping up all over Chattanooga over the past few years and for the most part have been successful.  Unfortunately there are some who just don’t get it as I have found out the hard way.    My latest instance was last week when a young woman on her cell phone almost t-boned me as she flew into the roundabout without yielding.  A near miss ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Oscar Brock’s True Passion

I don’t pay much attention to the Hamilton County School Board. Once the moon and the stars aligned behind Superintendent Rick Smith, you hear very little, if anything, from the nine-member council that oversees an annual budget of almost $400 million and employs 4,480 people. So chew this for a minute: approximately 2,000 of those people are not teachers. Yes, there are 78 principals ... (click for more)