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    Fifth Annual Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony
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    The fifth annual Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame induction ceremony will honor this year’s inductees on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, at 6:00pm.  The ceremony will take place at Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center located at 1860 Mellwood Avenue in Louisville. The 2014 inductees are James Booth, Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman, Chris Sullivan, and John A. Williams, Sr. The Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame celebrates the stories of Kentucky's most successful entrepreneurs. The mission is to raise awareness of the impact that entrepreneurship has made in the Commonwealth and to encourage others to pursue similar ambitious endeavors.

    James H. Booth, Booth Energy Group

    Surfing the wave of the late-1970s coal boom, James Booth co-founded his first contract mining company and was earning more than $1 million a year by his 28th birthday. As the coal boom fizzled in the 1980s, Booth diversified his business holdings, first with building supplies, then convenience stores, then homes, eventually branching out into nearly everything. Booth is currently the chief executive of Booth Energy Group (a conglomerate of coal companies) and also owns 19 Fast Lane convenience stores, 10 fast food restaurants serving 8 million customers in 2013, Car City, Elite Insurance, R&J Building Supply, and more. In recent years, Booth’s business empire has reported annual revenues of $750 million. Booth was also elected and served as the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Chairman in 2013.

    Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman, Bridgeman Foods Inc.

    Mr. Bridgeman is the President and CEO of Bridgeman Foods Inc. His company owns and operates over 160 Wendy's restaurant franchises across the country, making him the second largest owner of Wendy’s franchises in the world.  He also owns over 118 Chili’s restaurants.  He has over 11,000 employees and annual revenues in excess of $500 million.  He is ranked #3 on the Restaurant Finance Monitor’s Top 200 franchisee-owned companies. He was a guard/forward for the University of Louisville and then the Milwaukee Bucks and had a 12-year NBA career. Mr. Bridgeman is also the recipient of the Louisvillian of the Year Award.

    Chris Sullivan, Outback Steakhouse

    Mr. Sullivan is a founder of Outback Steakhouse, and former Chairman & CEO of Outback Steakhouse, Inc. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a B.S. degree in Business and Economics. In 1988 he founded Outback Steakhouse with Bob Basham, Tim Gannon and Trudy Cooper. The company went public in 1991 and over the next 15 years collaborated with the founders of Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Roy’s to develop and operate over 1400 restaurants worldwide. In 2007, with then CEO Bill Allen, the OSI Board of Directors and executive team sold the company to Bain Capital Partners, Catterton Partners and the Founders. In 2012, the reconstructed company, Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. went public and Mr. Sullivan serves as a Director.

    In 2000, he was inducted into UK’s Business and Economics Hall of Distinguished Alumni. He also currently serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans and is active in numerous charitable organizations focusing on catastrophic diseases, PTSD and education.

    John A. Williams, Sr., Computer Services, Inc.

    Mr. Williams is the founder and chairman of CSI, providing customers with integrated and streamlined technology solutions. As of 2014, CSI revenues were $213 million with over $26 million net profit. He served as chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Louisville Branch, and is a founder and the first president of the Association of Financial Technology (AFT). In 2006, he received the Governor's Technology Award as the individual who most deserved to be recognized as a leader in technology innovation in Kentucky. Williams was the first recipient of Murray State University’s Telecommunications Systems Management Department’s Entrepreneurship Award, and the university further honored him by naming the award the John A. Williams Entrepreneurship Award. In 2009, John was inducted into the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame and the Paducah Area Chamber presented him the Summit Award for leadership in education and poverty. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. Currently, John is serving as co-chair for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute for School Principals.

    Emerging Entrepreneurs:

    The following Emerging Entrepreneurs will also be recognized: Ankur Gopal, Interapt; Jennifer Mackin, The Oliver Group; and Nate Morris, Rubicon Global.

    Event details:

    Seating for the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame celebration is available for $75 per person and reservations are required. Sponsorships are also available. To reserve a seat or for sponsorship opportunities, please contact Tonya York at 502-419-6370 or visit

    The idea to establish the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame originated in 2010 at Awesome Inc, which partnered with Sustainable Business Ventures Corporation to host the inaugural induction ceremony in Lexington.

    Current Members:

    The 2014 inductees will join the 21 current members. 2010 Inductees: Ralph G. Anderson, Belcan; Governor John Y. Brown Jr., KFC; Jim Host, Host Communications; Pearse Lyons, Alltech; Davis Marksbury, Exstream Software; Warren Rosenthal, Long John Silver's; John Schnatter, Papa John's International; Lee Todd, Projectron and DataBeam; and William T. Young Sr., W.T. Young Foods and W.T. Young Storage Co. 2011 Inductees: Dana Bowers, iPay Technologies; David Jones, Sr., Humana; Wendell Cherry, Humana; Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse; and Bill Samuels, Jr., Maker's Mark. 2012 Inductees: Ron Geary, ResCare; Bruce Lunsford, Vencor; and Terry Forcht, Forcht Group of Kentucky. 2013 Inductees: Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton, Gatton Auto Dealerships; R. J. Corman, R. J. Corman Railroad Group; George Fischer, ServEnd; and Billy Harper, Harper Industries.

    Sponsors of the event include Delta Dental of Kentucky, Southern Wine and Spirits, Forcht Group of Kentucky, Gatton College of Business & Economics, Poe Companies, Sun Tan City/Planet Fitness, Mike and Dana Bowers, Jim Host, the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation, Robert P. Schneider/Morgan Stanley, Bella Vita Media, Karen Boone Design, Sustainable Business Ventures, York Management, Inc., University of Louisville Alumni Association, Lunsford Capital, Harper Industries, Brown Franchising Company, Cabinet of Economic Development. 

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    About Josh Johnson

    I am the voice behind The Kentucky Gent, a men's life and style blog.

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