In 1978, Moses Lebovitz and his son, Charles B. Lebovitz, founded CBL and Associates, developers of Hamilton Place Mall and other shopping centers nationwide. “Mr. Mose”, as he was affectionately known to friends and associates, was associated with the development of many of these shopping centers. Early in his business career, Mr. Lebovitz was a partner in Independent Theatres, Inc., which became a major movie theater owner-operator in the Tri-State area and included in Chattanooga the State Theater downtown, the Brainerd Theater and area drive-in theaters.
The theater operations were sold in 1961 and the company name changed to Independent Enterprises.
The firm then concentrated on developing shopping centers including the three regional malls in Chattanooga — Eastgate (1962), Northgate (1972) and Hamilton Place (1987) — along with 21 other shopping centers in Chattanooga. It has been estimated that some 15,000 jobs were created in these 24 developments. In the 1970s, Mr. Lebovitz was associated with Arlen Realty & Development Corp., a New York-based real estate company in which he served as senior vice president. In his 30-year career in shopping center development, “Mr. Mose” was involved in more than 200 centers in the Southeast, Sunbelt and Northeast areas of the United States. The son of Russian immigrants, Mr. Lebovitz was a native of Chattanooga. He graduated from Chattanooga High School and attended the University of Chattanooga, studying business and finance, and then served in the U.S. Army.
His entrepreneurial legacy continues today as CBL & Associates Properties continues to grow with 158 shopping centers in 25 states totaling 56 million square feet of retail space. CBL was among the top five shopping center owners in the country with assets approaching $3.5 billion. Mr. Lebovitz was deeply involved in the B’Nai Zion Congregation, a member of the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Federation, the Elks club, Shriners and a life member of Chattanooga Lodge 199 F&M. He also was on the Board of Directors of Hamilton Bank Shares, Inc. and the original Young Men’s Hebrew Association on Cherry Street. Mr. Lebovitz died June 27, 1991 at the age of 86.
John Stagmaier was a Chattanooga industrialist, philanthropist, devout Catholic, and one of the city’s most prominent civic leaders. He founded Tennessee Paper Mills, Star Box and Printing Company, Stagmaier & Co. and the Archer Paper Company. Mr. Stagmaier also helped to organize the Standard-Coosa-Thatcher Company, Hamilton National Bank, Pioneer Bank, Lookout Boiler Manufacturing Company, Eureka Foundry and the Tennessee River Navigation Company. He was president of the Shelby Paper Box Company of Memphis and the Champion No-Leak Tray Company.
Mr. Stagmaier helped found the Pine Breeze Sanatorium, a tuberculosis hospital for patients in Hamilton County. His impetus for the sanatorium stemmed from an incident in which a cousin had contracted TB and was turned away at Erlanger Hospital because of the highly contagious nature of the disease.
John Stagmaier was born in Ironton, Ohio in 1863 and came to Chattanooga at the age of 10. He was one of six orphaned children who came to live with their uncle, Joseph Friedel, in Chattanooga. As a child, he worked running errands for the old Planter’s Hotel and loading bales of wood onto lathes in a sawmill. Then, young Mr. Stagmaier worked as a grocery clerk and that led to opening his own small grocery store which evolved into a wholesale grocery chain. His interests and entrepreneurial acumen expanded into many other enterprises in industry, business and banking. He became the quintessential industrialist, always expanding, changing and growing businesses that worked in tandem. When Mr. Stagmaier needed financing, he became involved in banking. When one industry had a need that could best be provided locally, he formed another business to meet that need. Mr. Stagmaier is best remembered, however, for his civic mindedness and spirit. Stagmaier’s service to community included the Social Service Bureau, the Hamilton County School Board and Trustee of the University of Chattanooga. He was an active member of Sts. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church where he led a movement to establish a new parish, contributing his own money for establishment of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Brainerd. In his obituary in the Chattanooga Times, he was described as “a kindly, generous man. No one will ever know just how many people have been aided by him. A businessman of tremendous energy and ability, his judgment has been one of the guiding hands in the development of some of Chattanooga’s greatest institutions.” Mr. Stagmaier died Feb. 14, 1944 at his home on East Fourth Street. He was 80.
A. Hamid Andalib
A. Hamid Andalib is among Chattanooga’s best-known entrepreneurs. He is a modern-day immigrant, having escaped political turmoil in Iran in 1978 for liberty and life in the United States. He was only 17 and facing a language barrier when he arrived in Atlanta, where he worked in a restaurant while earning a degree in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech. He then received a scholarship to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, graduating in 1985. Again, he found himself working as a waiter to earn his way through college. This time it was at The Loft, one of Chattanooga’s most popular restaurants.
In the same year he graduated, he purchased the restaurant from the Krystal Company with a partner and a lot of “sweat equity.” In addition to being a restaurateur, Mr. Andalib owns AHA Capital, a commercial lending company that followed his studies at Vanderbilt University School of Banking. His venture into co-branded credit cards has extended from one for The Loft (believed to be the first in the world) to companies such as Olan Mills Portrait Studios, Wolf Camera and Nevada Bob’s Golf. He also owns an Internet business, VIPGift.com, which is a center for gift certificates and corporate incentives utilizing participating merchant locations nationwide. Mr. Andalib’s extensive civic and community activities and his business accomplishments have earned him numerous awards and honors. These include the Chamber of Commerce and Blue Chip Enterprise Business Person of the Year Award, Circle of Hope Award from the Arthritis Foundation, and the Outstanding Young Tennessean by the U.S. Jaycees.
James D. Kennedy, Jr.
James D. Kennedy Jr. is president of Kenco Group, (formerly Cherokee Warehouses Inc.), a family business begun by his late father and himself, along with Sam Smartt Sr. The younger Kennedy began working in warehousing in 1950 by making his first capital investment in Cherokee Warehouses, Inc. with $25,000. Beginning as a public warehouse, the enterprise grew and diversified into materials handling and an equipment dealership. The sale of lift trucks to warehouse owners was a logical step for the company, which became the Southeast dealer for the Toyota line of lift trucks.
In 1966, Kenco Inc. was formed with contract warehousing as its focus. An agreement was reached between Kenco and DuPont, with Kenco managing all of DuPont’s nylon stock and 90 percent of its packaged plastics.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Kenco further expanded to include appliance distribution, working with such companies as Whirlpool and GE. In 1999, Kenco merged with Cherokee Warehouses to become the Kenco Group, Inc., employing some 2,300 people. The company operates 63 facilities in 19 states and Canada with more than 15 million square feet of warehouse space.
Mr. Kennedy is a Baylor School graduate and received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in 1948. He served in World War II in the Army infantry and was awarded the Purple Heart with Cluster.
In civic life, Mr. Kennedy has served as a director of American National Bank and Trust Co., general chairman of the Industrial Committee of 100, board member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Lookout Mountain School Board, Commissioner for the Town of Lookout Mountain, Chairman of the local chapter of the Red Cross, member of the board of the United Way, the American Cancer Society board, president of Allied Arts, president of the Rotary Club, and on the board of Girls Preparatory School. Mr. Kennedy also served as Chairman of the University of Chattanooga Foundation. He has received many community awards for outstanding service.
Spencer H. Wright
Industrialist Spencer Wright founded Spencer Wright Industries in 1977 as a private company with major subsidiaries in the United States and England, through the purchase of the Singer Corporation's tufting machinery division. At the time of the purchase, Wright was Vice-President and General Manager of Singer's worldwide tufting machinery operation. He began his career with Price-Waterhouse and Co.'s New York City office before working in industry for several major corporations in the Midwest and East Coast.
Acquiring companies in Europe and the United States allowed the company to become the largest in its worldwide market. For more than five years, in the 1980's, he also was Chairman, President and CEO of the second largest publicly held financial institution in the Chattanooga area before selling it to AmSouth Bank.
Mr. Wright graduated from the business school of the University of Maryland and did graduate work at George Washington University. He has served as chairman on many community boards including: Memorial Hospital; Metropolitan YMCA; Tennessee Independent Colleges Fund; and the Chattanooga Manufacturers Association. He was an officer of the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Foundation and the Rotary Club. He was also a member of the board of the United Way and the Red Cross. His corporate board participation included the Singer Co., AmSouth Bank and First Federal Financial.