Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame 2004

Brenda G. Lawson

James L. "Bucky" Wolford

Brenda LawsonBrenda G. Lawson

Brenda G. Lawson has managed the financial and organizational growth of companies expanding into 17 states with more than 1,500 employees. Revenues exceeded $100 million.

Her entrepreneurship began in 1980 when she was part of a team that developed and operated Rental World, a rent-to-own business in the southeastern United States, starting with one store and growing to 45 stores before being sold to a competitor in 1987.

In 1987, Lawson co-founded national Rentals and United Rentals, stores that quickly expanded throughout the Midwest.

After the sales of these stores in 1994, Lawson co-founded McKenzie Check Advance, the company that operates nationally under the trade names of National Cash Advance and United Cash Advance. In 1999, McKenzie Check Advance was sold to Advance America of South Carolina.

Lawson presently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Brenda Lawson & Associates, M & B Jewelry Company, Railcar Innovations, Railcar Associates and Railcar Custom Leasing. She is also past president of McMahan, McKenzie & Winstead Government Relations in Nashville, Tennessee.

Lawson serves on the University of Tennessee Development Council, University of Tennessee Step-Up Committee, and the University of Tennessee Alliance of Women Philanthropists. She also serves on the University of Chattanooga Foundation Board of Trustees and the Advisory board for the College of Business. In 2001, Lawson provided the operating funds for the May Harris Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the College of Business.

In her hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee, Lawson is a founding board member of Cleveland 100, and she helped form Christmas Memories, a non-profit organization for underprivileged children. In 2001, her community presented her the prestigious 2001 Sertoma Service to Mankind Award. She is the mother of two children, Ashley and Toby McKenzie.

James Bucky WolfordJames L. "Bucky" Wolford
In the early 1970s, James L. "Bucky" Wolford began a career in retail development with Arlen Shopping Centers of Chattanooga. In 1978, he joined four others, including founder Charles B. Lebovitz, as principals in CBL and Associates, Inc. With Wolford as senior executive vice president, the CBL and Associates portfolio grew to some 22 million square feet of retail space at malls located mostly in the Southeast.

Wolford retired from CBL in 1997 and in 1999 formed Wolford Development, Inc., his own retail shopping center company.

In October, 2001, Wolford’s company opened the 376,000 square foot Oak Park Town Center in Hixson, Tennessee.

In addition, Wolford Development has property under option for major enclosed regional malls in Kalispell, Montana, Ames, Iowa and Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The centers contain such anchors as Wal-Mart, Marshall’s, Goody’s, Old Navy, Office Depot and Petco. Each of these malls will be in excess of 700,000 square feet with project costs in excess of $300 million.

Wolford grew up in a small town in Alabama, the son of a coal miner. He was captain of his high school football team and president of the School’s National Honor Society. He received a football scholarship to UTC, was co-captain of the football team, and third team Little All-American. He graduated from UTC in the summer of 1969.

Married to Diane Kilgore in May 1969, the couple has two sons, Clint Wolford and Chad Wolford. Wolford is a past Tennessee State Director of the International Council of Shopping Centers and a past member of the Board of Trustees of Baylor School in Chattanooga. He was named to the UTC Sports Hall of Fame. He currently serves as a member of the UTC Athletic Board, a board member of the University of Chattanooga Foundation and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.