The West Virginia Business Hall of Fame members


Editor’s note: Information is from the John Chambers College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame inductees website.

Richard M. Adams’ career in banking is marked by his exemplary leadership. By the age of 29, he had earned degrees from WVU and Rutgers and was named president of what was The Parkersburg National Bank.

Frank Alderman, MD, is the chief executive officer of MedExpress, an innovative outpatient health-care delivery model.

As president and CEO of J.F. Allen Co., John C. Allen has demonstrated the ability to take a solid family business and make it grow.

Linda Arnold is the founder and former chairman & CEO of The Arnold Agency, a multi-state advertising, public relations and governmental relations company that grew to have offices in Washington, D.C., Montana and West Virginia.

Phyllis Huff Arnold is the state president of BB&T West Virginia and regional president of BB&T West Virginia Central Region.

Gregory S. Babe, president and CEO of Bayer Corp. and Bayer MaterialScience LLC, is responsible for the North American activities of the worldwide Bayer Group, an international health care, nutrition and high-tech materials group based in Leverkusen, Germany.

The distinguished career of Mr. Curtis H. “Hank” Barnette is certainly enough to make West Virginia proud of this St. Albans native. Now chairman emeritus of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Barnette served the company for 33 years, starting as a lawyer in 1967, becoming general counsel, and retiring as chairman and CEO in 2000.

As chief executive officer, Bill provides the guiding vision for American Campus Communities. Known for his contagious enthusiasm and true passion for student success, he is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on student housing — having been featured in Fortune Magazine, NYSE Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and having appeared on CNBC.

W. Marston (Marty) Becker is chairman and chief executive officer of Max Capital Group Ltd, a global specialty insurer.

For more than 40 years, George Bennett has been a successful serial entrepreneur. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from West Virginia University in 1967 and MS and PhD degrees in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University in 1970 and 1971, he joined the Boston Consulting Group.

Currently, Mike Bodnar is actively involved as a real estate investor and equity capitalist in start-up restaurants, as well as the more established restaurant brands such as Jim & Nick’s BBQ.

While still in college, William T. Bright started a small business photographing churches for Christmas cards. When he graduated, he and his brother John expanded this home business into what became Bright of America, an international fundraising graphics, paper converting and marketing firm with 500 employees and over $20 million in sales. In 1990, he sold the company to Russ Berrie and Company, which continues operations in Summersville.

Burton became chief executive officer of BrickStreet Mutual Insurance when the company launched in 2006, and he has served as the executive chair of the Encova Mutual Insurance Group, formerly Motorists Insurance Group since April 2017. He was also the company’s president from 2006 through May 2015.

Wes Bush is chairman, chief executive officer and president of Northrop Grumman Corporation, a leader in global security.

As a businessman, Gaston Caperton led a small insurance agency to status as the nation’s 10th largest privately owned insurance brokerage firm. He used this same business acumen as West Virginia’s governor (1988-96) when he rescued the state from crippling debt.

Bray Cary, Jr. is an experienced media executive who built his own television sports syndication business and then became the architect of one of the most significant sports television contracts in history.

As president and CEO of Cisco Systems Inc., John Chambers helped build a company known for being the worldwide leader in networking for the internet.

Dr. John T. Chambers is a retired physician and a real estate developer and venture capitalist.

Chris Cline launched his career in the coal industry in 1980 at the age of 22. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father before him, he began working as an underground coal miner in southern West Virginia. He quickly moved into management, where he learned to use unique tools to motivate his workforce to develop and run low-cost coal mining operations. Working proactively with union and union-free operations, Chris Cline’s successes attracted the notice of major coal companies who engaged him to provide contract mining services for their own mines.

John W. Crites is chairman of Allegheny Wood Products Inc.

Tom DeWitt is a partner in and president and CEO of Swanson Industries Inc., a manufacturing, re-manufacturing, metal finishing, engineered products, and distribution company headquartered in Morgantown, with 10 operating companies in the United States and one joint venture company in Shanghai, China.

Harry “Hap” Esbenshade III

Esbenshade is chairman and CEO of The Mountain Company, Laurel Management Group and Tri-State/Service specialty contracting companies covering the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeastern United States. The group will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023. He leads real estate and investment businesses, as well.

As a successful businessman and active leader in the state, H. Smoot Fahlgren is an outstanding example of business excellence. Fahlgren began his business ventures in outdoor advertising, and in 1962 he formed an advertising agency in Parkersburg.

Dr. Addison M. Fischer created his first high-tech startup company in 1973, and has been involved in seed venture capital investing since the early 1980s. He founded Fischer International Systems Corp. and serves as its chairman. As major owner of RSA Data Security, he founded VeriSign, the internationally recognized standard of Internet commerce integrity.

Gabriel was the secretary, treasurer and president of Gabriel Brothers, which he founded along with his brother James Gabriel. Gabriel Brothers opened its first store in 1961 in Morgantown, where the company remains headquartered.

Patrick Graney, III, is the Chairman of the One Stop Company, which owns and operates more than 40 stores throughout West Virginia. He recently retired as the Eastern Regional President of Maxum Petroleum (now known as Pilot Logistics Services), a nationwide independent distributor of petroleum products.

Benjamin A. Hardesty is president of Dominion Exploration and Production Inc.

David C. Hardesty Jr. is president emeritus and professor of law at West Virginia University, where he teaches subjects related to professional responsibility (legal ethics) and the role of legislatures and statutory law in the legal system.

Having built the Gilbert Lumber Company from humble beginnings into the multi-million-dollar International Industries Inc., James H. “Buck” Harless has used his resources and influence to make the state, particularly his hometown of Gilbert, a better place to live.

J. Brett Harvey is chairman and chief executive officer of CONSOL Energy Inc. Harvey also is a member of the board of directors of Barrick Gold Corporation (Toronto) and Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (Pittsburgh).

A child of a West Virginia coal miner, Hiner earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from West Virginia University and began his 35-year tenure with the General Electric Company. During the 13 years he led GE Plastics, the division grew from less than $1 billion to $5 billion in annual sales. Following his own advice to “look to the highest goal you can achieve,” Hiner left GE to accept the leadership of Owens Corning in 1992.

Ernest L. Hogan (April 10, 1913 — March 8, 1999) began his 43-year career in the insurance business as an agent for Peoples Life Insurance Company in Beckley, West Virginia, and retired as president, chairman and CEO in Washington, D.C.

Don Hoylman is owner/operator of Donmar Enterprises Inc. During his career, he founded and/or developed Industrial Contracting of Fairmont Inc.; Industrial Resources; Mountaineer Resources, Inc.; Industrial Pneumatic Systems; West Virginia Electric; West Virginia Electric Industries; McHal Corp., Salem Electric Co.; and Salem Automation in Rotherham, England.

After graduation from WVU in 1953 (BS in mining engineering) and three years in the Navy, Elmo J. Hurst began work as an assistant chief engineer and assistant to the vice president and general manager for Winding Gulf Coals, Inc. in West Virginia. He then became vice president and general manager of J. O. Lively Construction Co. and Lively Manufacturing and Equipment Co. When these companies were sold to Elgin National Industries, Inc. in 1969, he became president of both.

Charles H. “Chuck” James III is the Chairman and CEO of C.H. James & Co. Recognized as one of the oldest and largest African-American owned companies in the United States, the firm was established as a wholesale produce house by his great-grandfather in 1883 in Charleston, WV.

Charles “Charlie” Jones is president and CEO of Amherst Industries. As a longtime West Virginia barge and coal operator, he’s been providing jobs through one of the state’s few home-based corporations. He has been referred to as a “coal miner, farmer, riverboat captain, and Renaissance man.”

Tom Jones is President and CEO of the West Virginia United Health System (System).

A native of Princeton, WV, and a 1965 West Virginia University graduate with a degree in business administration, Earl G. “Ken” Kendrick, Jr. is a successful entrepreneur with a commitment to community.

Kimberly Brown Knopf is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Innovative Mattress Solutions, a Winfield, W.Va. based mattress retailer…


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