Special Events :: U.S. Business Hall of Fame
2009 U.S. Business Hall of Fame Laureates
Gannon, Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan
Founders, Outback Steakhouse and OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC.
Partners Tim Gannon, Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan founded the popular Outback Steakhouse restaurant chain in 1987 and the first Outback Restaurant opened in Tampa in 1988. Since then, the company has opened 1,479 restaurants, including Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming's, Roy's, LeeRoy Selmon's, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Blue Coral, and Outback International.
Tim Gannon is a successful businessman, a great sportsman, and a staunch polo sponsor. He is senior vice president of Outback and in charge of all food operations for the chain. He is the creator of the "Bloomin' Onion" recipe and many of the other dishes on Outback's menu.
An alumnus of Florida State University, he studied art history but developed a passion for food and cooking. His career course was set when a chef at the Four Seasons Hotel offered to train him to be his assistant. Over the next 14 years, Gannon worked at Steak & Ale and Copeland's Cajun Cafe. In 1987, Gannon sold his saddle for $250 and arrived in Tampa, Florida, with $37 in his pocket to accept the offer to become a partner in the Outback Steakhouse enterprise.
Inc. magazine named Gannon its 1994 Entrepreneur of the Year. Other honors include the Florida Restaurant Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University, and induction in the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame.
Since 1992, Gannon was an avid polo player and sponsor of his own team, Outback Polo. In 2001, his team won their third US Open, and they hold five US Championships.
Robert D. Basham is vice chairman of Outback Steakhouse. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Bob started out in a family-run restaurant business and, in 1973, joined the management program of the Steak & Ale Restaurant Company. He ultimately became vice president of operations of the Bennigan's Concept and was instrumental in its successful nationwide expansion.
In 1983, Basham and Chris Sullivan established Sunstate Restaurant Corporation to develop the Chili's Concept as a franchisee and joint venture partner in Georgia and Florida. The company merged with Chili's, Inc. in 1987, and Bob continued in his operations position until departing to cofound Outback Steakhouse.
Basham also sets aside time to help in the community, serving as a Junior Achievement honorary chairman and a board member for Metropolitan Ministries, the Boys and Girls Club Foundation, Berkeley Preparatory School, the Chi-Chi Rodriguez Foundation, and McDonald's Training Center.
Chris T. Sullivan played the role of concept development and evolution while focusing on real estate and marketing for Outback. He graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1972 and began his career with Steak & Ale Restaurants, a company founded by his mentor Norman Brinker. A general manager at Steak & Ale a year later, he was promoted through the organization, eventually becoming president of the company's Bennigan's chain in 1980. Following their 1983 departure from Bennigan's, Sullivan and Bob Basham developed the Chili's restaurant concept. In 1987, they sold Chili's, emerging with enough capital to develop their own restaurant concept.
Chris has a passion for golf and, along with Bob Basham and Bob Merritt, a new golf club was created in 1997, Old Memorial Golf Club.
Sullivan is involved in numerous organizations, including serving as chairman of the Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign, chairman of Scripps Florida Funding Corporation, executive committee member of the Outback Steakhouse Pro- Am, and a board member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the National Parks Foundation, and Mary Lee's House.
Co-Founder, America Online, Inc.
Chairman and CEO, Revolution LLC.
Steve Case launched Revolution in April 2005, with the mission of partnering with entrepreneurs to build businesses that give consumers more choice, control and convenience in important areas of their lives. Revolution's current activities are focused on companies in the health, financial, resort, wellness, and digital sectors.
Previously, Case was the chair and CEO of America Online, Inc., and later, the chairman of AOL Time Warner. As the co-founder of AOL, he played an integral role in building the world's largest Internet company and in helping transform how people communicate, learn and conduct business. He also ensured that AOL led the industry on issues such as making the Internet a safe place for children, bridging the "digital divide," and investing in online philanthropy.
Case currently is chairman of two non-profit organizations: the Case Foundation and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), which takes an entrepreneurial approach to funding brain cancer research. He was a founding organizer of Business Strengthening America and was honored with the National Mentoring Partnership Leadership Award.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Case is a leading advocate for combining environmental responsibility with job creation and economic growth. He is a major investor in Grove Farm of Kauai and Maui Land & Pineapple, which are developing new sustainability models.
Founder, Publix Super Markets, Inc.
George W. Jenkins was an innovator in grocery retailing and a benefactor of many civic, educational and charitable organizations. The philosophies "Mr. George" lived by and instilled in the hearts of Publix people are still true today.
Born in Warm Springs, Georgia, in 1907, Jenkins began his career at his father's general store and moved on to the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain. He started his supermarket empire in 1930, opening his first store in Florida with $1,300 he had saved to buy a car.
In 1944, he purchased a chain of 19 small grocery stores and in 1948 began replacing these with "supermarkets." He revolutionized the industry with new design elements, such as automatic doors, air conditioning, fluorescent lighting, frozen-food cases, and 11,000 square feet of selling area. In 1977, he introduced electronic price scanners and, in 1982, automated teller machines (ATMs).
Jenkins served on the board of the Super Market Institute, including two years as president, and was vice president of the National Association of Food Chains and president of the National Association of Food Research.
He also served on bank boards of directors and advisory boards, received several honorary doctorates, and worked with numerous charities. He was especially proud of the George W. Jenkins Foundation, established in 1966, now known as Publix Super Market Charities.
Chairwoman, President & CEO, Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc.
Muriel Siebert is the founder, president and chief executive officer of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) brokerage firm that bears her name. In 1967, she established Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc., when she became the first woman member of the NYSE. The firm became a discount brokerage house in 1975, and Siebert still oversees its operations. The firm's municipal affiliate, Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., LLC, is ranked in the top 20 public finance firms in the country.
Always interested in the public good, Siebert took a leave of absence in 1977 to serve five years as the first woman Superintendent of Banking for the State of New York. In 1999, she developed a personal finance program that has been adopted as part of the required economics curriculum in New York City's public high schools and is being taught in high schools elsewhere in the country.
Throughout her career, Siebert has been actively involved with a wide range of nonprofit, civic and women's organizations. She is a respected author, speaker and sought-after commentator on financial news, and, over the years, has received countless awards and honors. She holds 18 honorary doctoral degrees, is an inductee of the International Women's Forum Hall of Fame and recipient of the National Association of Women Business Owners First Signature Award for Lifetime Achievement.
E. Whitacre Jr.
Edward E. Whitacre Jr. began his career with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in 1963 and progressed through a series of assignments in the company. In 1988, Whitacre became president and chief operating officer, responsible for the SBC's six primary subsidiaries. Within 16 months, he became chairman and CEO.
Whitacre served as chairman and CEO of the company from 1990 until retiring in 2007. In that time, he led then-SBC Communications on a disciplined growth strategy and through a series of industry-changing mergers and acquisitions, including the 2005 acquisition of AT&T Corp. SBC and the new AT&T have repeatedly been named by Fortune magazine as the most admired telecommunications company in America and the world. Forbes magazine named AT&T "Company of the Year" in 2006.
Whitacre currently serves on the boards of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Exxon Mobil and the PGA Tour. He is also on the board of the Institute for International Economics and is a member of The Business Council.
Whitacre's leadership extends beyond the corporate community - and into the community at-large - where he is actively involved in a wide variety of educational and civic activities. He has earned a number of awards for his contributions including being named one of the Top 25 Executives of the Year by BusinessWeek and in 2006, he was named Texan of the Year by the Texas Legislative Conference.