When Senators owner Clark Griffith sent Engel off to the minor-league Minneapolis Millers, he reportedly told Engel to swap himself for someone who could play ball. Engel looked the Millers over, and sent back Ed Gharrity, a catcher. Gharrity turned out to be so good that Griffith hired Engel as a scout. Engel became known as one of the greatest scouts in baseball history, discovering Goose Goslin, Joe Cronin, Alvin Crowder, Bump Hadley, Buddy Myer, Cecil Travis, Ossie Bluege, Bucky Harris, and Doc Prothro. Engel signed Cronin in Kansas City for $7,500 and sold him seven years later to the Boston Red Sox. Engel's discoveries helped bring the Senators three American League pennants in ten years.
Engel later became best known as one of the most eccentric promoters in baseball history. In the late 1920s, Griffith sent Engel to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to manage a newly acquired farm team, the Chattanooga Lookouts. Engel remained with the Lookouts for 34 years. One year, Engel had his players parade into the ball park on elephants for Opening Day. He traded a shortstop for a turkey, roasted it and served it to local sportswriters who had been "giving him the bird." He raffled off houses and automobiles, and had canaries singing in the grandstands. When the New York Yankees went to Chattanooga to play a pre-season exhibition game with his Lookouts, Engel located a female 17-year-old left-handed pitcher, Virnett "Jackie" Mitchell, who struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Engel's promotions were a hit in Chattanooga, and fans poured into the ballpark that would later be named Engel Stadium. In 1932 the Lookouts won the Southern Association pennant for the first time in 40 years and beat the Texas League champions in the Dixie Series. In 1936, Engel decided to buy the Lookouts, but he didn't have enough cash. He persuaded 1,700 fans to chip in and buy the club for $125,000. That year, attendance tripled. The fan-owned Lookouts made a profit of $50,000. The following year Chattanooga won another pennant.
Engel died in Chattanooga in 1969 at age 76.
George H. Pettway
In 1982 Mr. Pettway led a management buyout of the company. The buyout was highly successful with debt reduced by two-thirds in 12 months and a substantial increase in earnings. In 1985 Mr. Pettway sold his position in the company and retired.
His next venture was founding a catalog company. Recognizing the company’s true strength, the company started fulfilling orders for other catalog companies. The company grew from 10 employees to 750 in one year, and was subsequently sold to a foreign buyer in 1988 for a 20-fold gain in the equity invested.
In 1989 Mr. Pettway founded River Associates LLC. The firm was designed as a buyout firm for small to medium size companies by using funds from a pool of monies from investors. River I was followed by River II, then River III, then River IV and today River V. Outside investor investment minimums grew from $200,000 to $5,000,000. The firm has bought and sold 30-plus companies and has earned investors a 28 percent internal rate of return on their investments since 1989. Mr. Pettway retired from River Associates in 2002, but remains an advisory partner.
Mr. Pettway was born and raised in Chattanooga. He graduated from Baylor School and then attended the University of Virginia. After receiving his BA from Virginia, he was commissioned in the US Navy. After serving two years off North Vietnam aboard the aircraft carrier, Intrepid, he was discharged with the rank of Lt.j.g. He then attended the Wharton Graduate Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. He received is MBA from Wharton in 1969.
Mr. Pettway is married to Bonnie Harper Perry of Chattanooga and together they have five children and seven grandchildren.
Anthony L. Vest
Tony worked for General Electric as a field engineer in the early 1970’s, supervising the installation of power equipment, such as large turbines, generators and nuclear reactors. His entrepreneurial spirit struggled as he ascended into management however, and in 1985, Tony left GE and formed Onsite Engineering and Management Company. Onsite provided training, engineering, refueling, and management services to nuclear power facilities. Although the nuclear industry was in severe contraction throughout the period, by 1990 Inc. Magazine named Onsite the 30th fastest growing privately held firm in the United States. In 1991 Onsite was named a Blue Chip Enterprise Award winner by the US Chamber of Commerce. In 1992 Tony was named Georgia Entrepreneur of the Year. Tony left Onsite in 1996 after completing its sale. At that time Onsite had grown to more that 200 employees and more than $50 million in annual revenues.
After the sale of Onsite, Tony continued his management consulting through Management Programs Corporation, a company he founded in 1987. In 2001 he was asked to take over as Managing Partner of Teton Springs Golf and Casting, LLC, a large second home resort development in Teton Valley Idaho. He and his wife, Sandy, worked as a team to right a real estate development that was in serious difficultly. Lack of financing and sales, partly as fallout from 9/11, along with fundamental management and cash flow issues, had the project on the brink of failure. Tony and Sandy invested all their time and resources and by the end of 2006 Teton Springs was a success, having sold more than $120 million in property, and providing returns to investors. Along the way, Tony founded Headwaters Construction Company and All Seasons Resort Realty, LLC. Headwaters Construction had revenues of $56 million in 2007 and was named number 145 in the Inc 500 that year. ASR Realty was the third largest realty, by sales and volume in the greater Jackson Hole area, consistently selling more than $150 million worth of real estate annually. Additionally, Tony is the managing partner of Teton Springs Lodge, LLC, which developed Teton Springs Lodge and Spa, a small luxury hotel, the first of its kind in Teton Valley.
Tony enjoys helping young entrepreneurs realize their dreams and in 2005 he structured agreements whereby key management personnel were able to obtain the majority interest in Headwaters Construction Company and All Seasons Resort Realty.
Tony and Sandy make their home in Chattanooga and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Their daughter, Shannon, lives in Pasadena, California. Tony attended UTC in 1979 while working on his MBA. Tony enjoys piloting his own plane, hiking, scuba diving and snow skiing. He and Sandy are avid believers in free minds and free markets.