Dr. J. Don Brock
In the asphalt jungles of the world, Dr. J. Don Brock is king.
Brock is founder, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Astec Industries, Inc. of Chattanooga, premier manufacturer of asphalt mixing plants and related equipment.
Astec was Dr. Brock's brainchild, arising from working with his father's business in his formative years.
The younger Brock learned to weld at the age of eight, and when he was 21 he made a major industry breakthrough as part of his college master's thesis. Dr. Brock invented a carpet-drying machine that was nearly twice as fast as any others being used. He later was to become one of the first asphalt industry executives to earn a Ph.D.
J. Don Brock is the son of the late industrialist, J.A. Brock, one of the pioneers in the development of heating and mixing machinery used in producing asphalt. The elder Brock was owner of Industrial Boiler Co. of Bakewell, Tennessee.
Formed in 1972, Astec Industries, Inc. has grown into a family of companies manufacturing the world's broadest line of equipment for the asphalt road building, aggregate processing, pipeline and utility industries. Under Dr. Brock's leadership, the company has become one of the Chattanooga area's largest employers. Beginning with only five workers in 1972, Astec and its subsidiaries employed more than 3,000 people by the year 2000. Astec, which derives its name from asphalt technology, includes some 14 companies located throughout the United States.
Dr. Brock is the holder of 90 United States and foreign patents on construction machinery and drying equipment. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee in mechanical engineering in 1963 and a doctorate in mechanical engineering in 1965. He has taught engineering classes at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Dr. Brock has received many honors, including the National Asphalt Pavement Association Man of the Year and Inventor of the Year awards.
In 1999, Chattanooga Manufacturers Association presented him with the Capt. C.D. Mitchell Award. Also in 1999, he received the Construction Equipment Industry's Hall of Fame Award.
One of Dr. Brock's and Astec's most notable successes came in 1978 with the introduction of the first self-erecting, portable asphalt mixing plant that is marketed as The Six Pack.
Clyde M. Fuller
Clyde M. Fuller's name is synonymous with success in the transportation industry.
After military service in the Army, which also included service in the Korean War, Mr. Fuller returned home and attended Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, and Hiwassee College in Madisonville.
With college studies under his belt, Mr. Fuller began his first company by establishing the Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Athens known as Valley Motors and its used-car counterpart, City Motors. He also owned a truck leasing company that rented trucks to various businesses, including the carpet mills of Dalton and Northwest Georgia.
In 1974, Mr. Fuller bought a California company known as Southwest Motor Freight, which had never been active as a trucking company, and shifted its headquarters to Chattanooga. He began Southwest with 23 trucks and expanded the operation to several hundred trucks before selling it in 1986. Ironically, the new owners were less than successful with Southwest, so Mr. Fuller bought the company back. He then sold Southwest to son Max Fuller and Max's partner, Pat Quinn, and they merged it with US Xpress, the Chattanooga-based trucking company. Mr. Fuller also was founder of Countrywide Trucking Service, Inc. of Pomona, California, which became a public company in 1985 and Tenn-Ga. Truck Equipment Sales, Inc. of Chattanooga.
Clyde Fuller owns and is Chairman of the Board of J-Mar Trucking, Inc. which started with 83 trucks and has grown to over 500 vehicles in the past five years. He also is Senior Advisor to the President of Covenant Transport, also a Chattanooga trucking firm where stepson David Parker sits at the helm.
It's a challenge for him to take companies that aren't making it and see them succeed, says his wife of 34 years, Elizabeth. Clyde's a very smart man who's a hard worker, has a vast knowledge of the transportation industry, and is willing to take risks.
Roy Ketner McDonald
Roy McDonald often said, I'm a merchant, not a journalist.
History records, however, that Mr. McDonald succeeded at both and was truly committed to the progress and welfare of the Chattanooga area. Besides being a successful grocer and newspaper publisher, Mr. Roy brought the Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan to Tennessee, and served on the board of Erlanger Hospital through some difficult times.
Roy Ketner McDonald was born in 1901 in Graysville, Tennessee, son of Frank Jones McDonald and Nannie Ketner McDonald. One of six McDonald children, Roy graduated from Chattanooga Central High School and attended Georgia Tech for about a year and a half, then left to begin managing his father's grocery stores in Columbia, South Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. He returned to Knoxville, Tennessee, to work in the home office of his father's grocery store chain and eventually came back to Chattanooga to manage his first Home Store on Market Street.
Roy McDonald's first injection of printer's ink into his life arose from printing a weekly circular advertising prices of Home Stores products and specials. The Òthrow sheet, distributed free, began to add feature stories and eventually news. On August. 31, 1936, the Free Press became a daily newspaper. In December, 1939, Mr. McDonald bought the Chattanooga News from its bondholders and combined it with the Free Press.
Mr. Roy, as he would later become to be known by family, friends and associates, had accomplished quite an amazing feat in the publishing world: He started a newspaper in competition with two other metropolitan dailies and grew it to become the city's largest and most conservative newspaper. He was only 35 years old at the time.
In true entrepreneurial spirit, Mr. McDonald came to work about 5:30 each morning and would work late into the evening each day, often staying long after reporters and editors had left for the day. At one time, when Erlanger Hospital was without an administrator, Mr. McDonald headed the hospital for several months, arriving at the hospital first, then moving on to his office at the newspaper.
Mr. McDonald served as publisher of the News-Free Press for 57 years before his death on June 18, 1990. He had been at work at the Free Press the day before, as usual, and apparently was planning to go to work the day that he died at his home on Lookout Mountain. He was 88.
O.D. and Anna Ruth McKee
The published biography of O.D. McKee is appropriately titled Sweet Success America's Snack Cake King. The founder of Little Debbie Snack Cakes and his wife, Anna Ruth, worked together to build their business into the nation's largest independent producer of snack cakes. Theirs is a true story of American entrepreneurial success.
But it wasn't always a smooth road. As biographer C.A. Oliphant describes in his book, Mr. McKee was ridiculed as a child because of his trouble with reading. It was a problem he did not learn had a name - dyslexia - until he was in his 60s. Mr. and Mrs. McKee were so poor during the Depression years that they qualified for a county welfare meal program in North Carolina. And in the 1950s, the McKee family faced a violent strike by union workers when their business was located on Dodds Avenue.
Oather Dorris McKee and Anna Ruth King McKee started their baking enterprise with a $200 down payment on a financially troubled Chattanooga cookie bakery in 1934 at the height of The Depression. They raised the money by pawning their truck. While Mr. McKee was on the road building sales, Ruth kept the books, hired workers and managed the plant.
Soon after buying the Chattanooga bakery, Mr. McKee made changes to his oatmeal cookie formula to make it softer and sweeter. He put two of his soft cookies together with a fluffy filling in between and sold the "creme pies" for a nickel apiece. Mr. McKee also devised several gadgets to make the bakery more efficient. Using the worm gear from a washing machine and a small electric motor, he made an automated cookie cutter. He also attached a wind-up Big Ben alarm clock to the oven switch so that the ovens would already be warm when he and Ruth arrived for work.
Mrs. McKee had an ability to forecast ingredient price trends, outperforming commodity forecasters most of the time. Eventually she specialized in that area and became vice president of purchasing. At the time of her death in 1989, she was a company director and senior vice president.
In the mid-1950s, they faced new problems when they needed to expand but were landlocked at the Dodds Avenue location. Because they leased the building, they could only raise capital on the equipment and would need financing for a move. Both problems were solved by Southern College whose College Wood Products plant had been destroyed in a fire on July 3, 1956, putting 150 student employees out of work. At the college's invitation, McKee Baking Company moved into a 32,000 square-foot building on the campus in September 1957. Both McKees had worked their way through Southern College, and educational institution of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Business really began to boom for the McKees in the 1960s when Mr. McKee decided to market their baked goods in "family packs." It was also about this time that the name "Little Debbie" came from a meeting of Mr. McKee and Mr. Bob Mosher, a box salesman who suggested that the McKee products have a name. Coincidentally, McKee's granddaughter, Debbie, had just had a portrait picture made at Olan Mills studios. Little Debbie - all smiles, with curly hair and wearing her favorite cowgirl hat - became the company's trademark and an instant success.
McKee Foods stands as a living legacy for the couple who began with little more than an idea and the hard work and determination to see it succeed. O.D. McKee died in 1998 at the age of 90.