Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame 2010
Robert C. Bullard
Bob Bullard’s career began in 1978 just before his 16th birthday. His first job involved driving his grandfather on one of the company’s sales routes during the summer and school holidays.
The Zee Company Incorporated was started by his grandparents, John and Mildred Zott, in 1968. At that time Zee Company consisted of one salesman, twelve customers and seven products, and was headquartered in a spare bedroom of their home. The singular product that constituted the majority of sales was an additive to improve the production process in the pork industry.
In 1983, Mr. Bullard became the Vice President and General Manager and began expanding the product offerings and the customer base for the Zee Company, Inc. Four years later, he became the President of the organization, and extended its sales force and services to concentrate on the pork and beef industries throughout the Eastern United States.
In the following two decades, the organization – through strategic growth, acquisitions, new product development, and the start-up of a number of new businesses – became a vertically integrated company now known as The Vincit Group. The Vincit Group consists of chemical manufacturing, logistical services, distribution and warehousing, outsourced services management, design-build engineering services, sanitation and water treatment products and services, consulting, import/export services and real estate. Through continued development of new products and services The Vincit Group has positioned itself to compete in the global economy.
The clients Vincit now serves are among the top Fortune 100 companies. These clients operate globally in 24 different industries throughout the world. The Vincit Group member companies produce more than 1,000 products and employ more than 2,600 associates internationally.
The success of The Vincit Group can be attributed to two critical elements: delivering outstanding value to the client, and recognizing the contributions of each associate to the success of the business.
Mr. Bullard participates in a number of philanthropic endeavors in Chattanooga and abroad. He is actively involved in his church, his alma mater, outdoor initiatives, and supports a number of organizations designed to help those who are willing to help themselves.
Lewis Card, Sr. and Roy T. Card
Over more than six decades, Joseph L. “Lewis” Card, Sr. and Roy T. Card have been remarkable partners, merging their talents to transform the world beneath our feet. They were true pioneers, blazing the trail for today’s multibillion dollar, global carpet industry.
Combining mechanical ingenuity, innovation, imagination and leadership, these brothers labored together in developing technology to produce carpet that today rivals the best designs, textures and quality that looms for weaving carpet could ever produce.
In 1939 Lewis, the older brother, left Fort Payne, Alabama, the day after graduating from high school to join Cobble Brothers Machinery Co. in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he worked for his uncle, Joseph Cobble. Lewis soon was promoted to manager at Cobble Brothers. Roy, following a tour of duty in the U.S. Coast Guard, joined him in 1950, literally learning the business from the ground up.
Starting with single needle tufting machines used for making “chenille” (tufted) bedspreads, the brothers and a team of craftsmen they assembled began expanding the capabilities of the machines. First they added multiple needles and then built bigger, stronger frames to hold wider needle bars. Before long the machines were being utilized to create scatter rugs, and eventually the Cards made the first attempts to tuft carpet of various sizes.
Those initial samples were crude, but the Card brothers could see the potential and gradually advanced the efficiency of their machines and the quality of the product, one step at a time.
Over the years these men started and acquired a succession of tufting machine companies, including Super Tufter, Card & Co. Inc., Southern Machine Co., Tuftco Corp., all in the Chattanooga area, along with Gowin-Card in Dalton, Cobble Brothers, Ltd. (England) and British Tufting Machine (England), before joining their son and nephew, Lewis Card, Jr., and son-in-law, Charles Monroe, at Card-Monroe Corp. Today both Lewis and Roy serve on the board of directors at CMC. Together they hold more than 100 U.S. and international patents for tufting technology.
These remarkable men, without the benefit of a college education, applied principles of physics, mechanical engineering, chemistry and other disciplines to accomplish their objectives in advancing the craft of tufting and leaving an indelible mark on carpet manufacturing.
Lewis and Roy Card serve as living examples of the American work ethic – seeing problems and obstacles merely as opportunities to refine their craft, while combining vision, hard work and determination to achieve the inconceivable.