The privately wealthy - Atlanta Business Chronicle (2022)

Barbara and Ronald Balser

The Management Compensation Group Inc.

The Balsers run an Atlanta-based consulting firm, founded in 1976, that has grown to provide Fortune 1500 companies with consultation on employee-benefit plans and human resources. The company also brokers life insurance.

Barbara Balser, a magna cum laude graduate of Boston University, has a degree in public relations. She is president of the company. She has participated in civic activities such as the Friends of Spelman, the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta College of Art's board of trustees from 1985 to 1991. She has also served as national commissioner of the Anti-Defamation League.

Ronald Balser, a Wharton School graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, is one of five founders of Management Compensation Group. He has been a member of the Wharton School's undergraduate advisory board and a member of American Mensa Ltd.

Roy Barnes Attorney, politician

After Lt. Gov. Pierre Howard announced he was dropping out of the 1998 governor's race, Barnes stepped up to make his second bid for governor. He lost the Democratic nomination for governor in 1990 to Gov. Zell Miller.

In addition to Barnes' stake in his Marietta law firm, Barnes Browning Tanksley & Casurella, the would-be governor has a wide variety of business interests ranging from banking to manufacturing. His stock holdings worth more than $20,000 include Synovus Financial Corp., First Gwinnett Bank, Jasper Banking Corp., Efficiency Lodge Inc., Clayton County Federal Bank, Community Financial Corporation, K mart Corp., Shaw Industries, ValuJet Airlines, Sears, Roebuck and Co. and First Cash of Arlington, Texas.

Barnes also lists a number of real estate holdings.

David Berkman

The Dominion Cos.

Although he says he'd rather be a beach bum, apartment developer and owner David Berkman has been extremely busy during the past 12 months. His Dominion Cos., which he runs with Elliott Lewis, has been developing and selling apartment communities in Atlanta and across the Southeast. Its One Buckhead Loop, a super-luxury high-rise, is beating all lease-up expectations.

On the hockey front, Berkman owns two minor league teams, but he really wants a National Hockey League franchise. In July, Berkman submitted an offer to buy the Tampa Bay Lightning and, as of press time, was still in the running to get the team. Meanwhile, Berkman gets to practice being a beach bum at his Amelia Island, Fla., home.

Douglas C. Billian Publisher

A publisher of consumer and trade publications as well as directories and databases, his company titles run the gamut -- from Art & Antiques and Boating World to The Hospital and Health Care Blue Book. Billian made a tidy sum (estimated to be $26 million) when he sold his Golf World title to The New York Times nearly nine years ago, something he considers to be old news.

Before he generated his wealth in publishing and printing (he also owns a Pinhurst, N.C., printing operation), Billian developed Atlanta apartments more than 30 years ago.

He's a supporter of several charities, including "Meals on Wheels" and resides in the prestigious North Fulton Winterthur development. Billian also has homes in New York and Florida and maintains a houseboat on Lake Lanier, where he's a member of the University Yacht Club. (Billian says he gave up golf when he bought Golf World.)

Billian and his brothers have a family charitable foundation. "The guy upstairs has been pretty good to me," Billian says.

Gerald Blonder Focus Group

Apartment guru Blonder hit the jackpot in November, when Focus Group got a $120 million cash infusion through a partnership with a New York institutional investor to create a new apartment-owning entity. The partnership, which joined Focus and Tiger/Westbrook Real Estate Partners L.P. of New York, spent the first half of 1997 acquiring the first of five apartment communities it plans to buy.

Blonder made his money in apartments during the past 42 years. He and former partner David Berkman ran Tempo Management, which evolved into Focus Group. For Blonder, the new partnership moved his business away from a family operation and created new opportunities. Blonder said he probably always dreamed about doing something like the partnership, and now he has.

Carl Bolch Jr. Racetrac Petroleum Inc.

Bolch is CEO of Georgia's seventh-biggest private company, Racetrac. A nationwide chain of gas stations/convenience stores, it had 1996 revenue of about $1.1 billion, a 16 percent rise from a year earlier.

Bolch and his wife, Susan, have made sizable donations to The Westminster Schools, the prestigious prep school attended by all five of their children.

Charles W. Brady Amvesco

Brady built the capital management firm Invesco Plc from a tiny Citizens and Southern Bank spinoff with $250 million in assets under management in 1978 into the Southeast's largest money management firm that manages assets of $35 billion in employee-benefit accounts, charitable foundations and state and local authorities' pension plans.

Brady, 62, was part of a group that acquired Invesco in the late 1970s and merged it in 1988 with London-based Britannia Arrow Corp. In February 1997, Invesco merged with AIM Management Co. Brady is chairman and CEO of the newly merged company, called Amvesco, which has more than $160 billion under management worldwide.

He is a Georgia Tech graduate who attended the advanced management school at Harvard University, and began his career in the investment unit of a bank in 1964 after leaving the Navy. He is a director of the Atlanta College of Art, a trustee of the Georgia Tech Foundation and a member of the Atlanta Society of Financial Analysts.

William Breman

Breman Steel Co.

This Atlantan doesn't believe he belongs on a list of the city's wealthiest people, but his philanthropic efforts in the community indicate differently. Three years ago, Breman gave about $4 million to create the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum of the Atlanta Jewish Federation, a donation that he said was his largest ever at the time. He also has endowed the religious school at The Temple and the library at The Davis Academy, provided funds to help build the Woodruff Arts Center in 1962, and supports the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and High Museum of Art.

His retirement from the Breman Steel Co., where he forged his fortune, allows him to be active in the community. He has received numerous humanitarian and human relations awards for his extensive service work. He currently is a life member of the boards of trustee at The Temple, William Breman Jewish Home, American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League, and a board member at the High Museum of Art.

Robert Brooks Eastern Foods, Hooters franchiser

He may have founded his fortune with the controversial Hooters restaurant chain, but Brooks is building an "all-American" business empire that spans from sauces to speedways. There are now 211 Hooters restaurants worldwide with annual revenues of $325 million.

Brooks also plans to build the Jackaroo Steakhouse chain through franchise agreements. The first Jackaroo restaurant opened in Myrtle Beach, S.C., last year. The Jackaroo restaurant concept developed from the Jackaroo barbecue sauce that Brooks produces at Eastern Foods. Eastern also produces the Naturally Fresh line of sauces, dressings and dips.

Brooks also has major holdings outside the restaurant business, including the USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla., and the Whitewater Country Club in Fayetteville. He also owns a sports merchandising company that produces promotional items for his various ventures. He is married and has one son.

Tom Watson Brown

Media magnate,

Falcons minority owner

Brown's most public role is as a minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons; he shares 12 percent of the team with friend John Imlay. The two men have said publicly that they would like to lead a buyout of the football team by putting together a consortium of owners from Atlanta's business community. To do so would mean convincing the Smith family to let go of the remaining 82 percent of the team, which most people think is unlikely.

To date, though, Brown's Falcons investment has been a good one -- he put in about $6 million in 1991, when the team was worth $100 million. Today, the franchise is worth in excess of $170 million.

Off the field, Brown is an attorney and the chairman of Spartan Communications, a company that owns a number of television stations. He also is the great-grandson of Tom Watson, the noted author and Georgia congressman.

The Brumby Family Marietta Daily Journal

The family of Otis A. Brumby Sr., who died in 1953, owns one of the few remaining independent daily newspapers, the Marietta Daily Journal. But the penetration of the newspaper company, called the Times-Journal Inc., extends from Alpharetta to South DeKalb through 27 free weekly "Neighbor" shoppers. The Times-Journal also publishes the Cherokee Tribune in Canton.

The Brumby family also owned real estate that became Town Center at Cobb. It still owns hundreds of acres in undeveloped northwest Cobb County.

Otis Brumby Jr., 56, and one of his five children, Spain, are the caretakers of the newspaper business.

Elisabeth Brumby, the widow of Otis Brumby Sr., was chairman of the board and retained the majority interest in the paper until her recent death.

Kenneth G. Byers Jr. Byers Engineering Co.

Byers has grown his Atlanta-based Byers Engineering Co. into a diversified powerhouse that provides information systems and engineering services for major telecommunications and utility companies.

The company, 100 percent owned by Byers, generated some $63 million in sales in 1996 and employs 1,400 workers at its headquarters and in 40 branch offices.

Byers, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech, comes from a family of high-tech business people. His brother Brook is a partner in the San Francisco Bay-area venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Another brother, Tom, is an industrial engineering professor at Stanford University.

Byers is a trustee of the Georgia Tech Foundation and endowed the Byers Eminent Scholar Chair in microelectronics in 1986.

Michael C. Carlos

National Distributing Co.

Carlos is a private individual who rarely consents to be interviewed. But people who know him say he is a good guy and very generous with the money he has garnered as chairman and CEO of National Distributing Co. Inc. (NDC), an Atlanta-based wholesaler of wine, spirits, beer and nonalcoholic beverages founded by his father, Chris Carlos, in 1935.

It has been said that Carlos probably is the most generous person in Atlanta relative to his wealth. He has given to many causes over the years, including multimillion-dollar gifts to Woodward Academy and to Emory University's Michael C. Carlos Museum. He also has supported organizations such as The Carter Center, Agnes Scott College and his church, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral. A few years ago, he gave $100,000 to the Atlanta chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives when the organization named him philanthropist of the year.

This past year, he was instrumental in the hiring of Tony Hirschel to be director of the art and archaeology museum that bears Carlos' name. Carlos is said to frequent the museum, where he loves to see school children learning about different cultures.

Carlos attended school at Georgia Military Academy and Georgia State University before serving in the Army at the end of World War II. He joined NDC in 1946.

S. Truett Cathy Chick-fil-A

Cathy, the 76-year-old founder of Chick-fil-A, remains active after more than 50 years in the restaurant business.

However, after focusing primarily on building company-owned stores, Cathy and his sons Don and Dan are now rapidly expanding the company through licensing agreements and independent contractors. New freestanding restaurants and outlets on college campuses are major growth areas. Chick-fil-A also is expanding abroad.

The company that began with the Dwarf House restaurant has grown into an empire of more than 700 Chick-fil-A stores with systemwide sales of $570 million. Cathy's sons plan to take the company to the $1 billion mark by 2000.

Although Chick-fil-A has brought him money and power, Cathy downplays his success. He is a deeply religious man who still closes his restaurants on Sundays. He also is a close friend of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Through his WinShape Centre Foundation, Cathy is highly active in youth issues, including foster care. Additionally, Chick-fil-A has awarded more than $12.3 million in scholarships.

Anne Cox Chambers

Cox Enterprises Inc.

The grande dame of Atlanta's wealthy continues to lead a fairly reclusive life for someone with a worth estimated to be in the billions -- and growing. The heiress to the Cox media fortune continues to maintain a home here on West Paces Ferry Road, but is frequently at her villa in France.

An avid gardener and pet lover, Chambers continued supporting her favorite causes in the past year, and it wasn't always with her checkbook. She was among a group -- Americans United to Save the Arts and Humanities -- who appealed to House Speaker Newt Gingrich to save the National Endowment for the Arts. She serves on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the Lacoste School of Art in France and the Atlanta Arts Alliance, among others.

Chambers, from a longtime Democratic family, donated to Sen. Max Cleland's campaign and supported other candidates, including well-connected Comer Yates in his bid to unseat John Linder in Congress.

An international diplomat (she was ambassador to Belgium during the Carter administration), Chambers spoke at the dedication of the International School's new campus, emphasizing the need for students to master a second language. She's also on the Board of Trustees at the Carter Presidential Library.

Michael Coles

Great American Cookie Co.,

aspiring politician

After stepping down as president of the Great American Cookie Co., which he founded and nurtured into a $100 million company, Coles considered a second run for office against U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell in 1998, but took his name out of the running, citing family responsibilities.

Instead, he accepted a position as the chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, vowing to help the party's entire slate of candidates raise money and name recognition for the 1998 elections. Coles, 53, also is working on a motivational book based on his life as an entrepreneur.

Coles is an avid bicycle rider and supports a number of philanthropic causes, including the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Fund. The business school at Kennesaw State University is named for him.

John A. and Miriam H. Conant

Their public giving was recognized in May with the opening of the $5.7 million Miriam H. and John A. Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University. For half the year, the 511-seat theater will be home to the Georgia Shakespeare Festival rent free; the rest of the year, it will be used by student and community groups.

Miriam Conant is the president of the John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Charitable Foundation, set up by her parents. John Conant is the secretary of the foundation, which has $29.5 million in assets and gave out $1.5 million in grants last year. The couple were among the biggest shareholders in check-maker John Harland Co. until 1995, but their holdings have since dropped below 5 percent of its stock. John Conant worked for the company for 35 years.

"We very much enjoy being involved in the cultural and civic life of Atlanta," he said. Outside their civic activities, the couple, both 73, pursue gardening and traveling.

Virginia Crawford

Crawford & Co.

A Texan turned Buckhead resident, Crawford, widow of Crawford & Co. founder James H. Crawford, has been busy piling up community accolades over the last year. She was honored as a member of the Forward Arts Foundation at the Atlanta History Center's 12th annual Swan House Ball in May. The renamed Shepherd Center's research institute is now known as the Virginia C. Crawford Resarch Institute. When Crawford is not busy working in the community, she chairs the executive committee of Crawford & Co. This past year, she retired from the board of Post Properties.

The Dinos Family

The Dinos family sold the Southern Tea Co. to Tetley Inc. for a reported $30 million to $40 million in 1990 after controlling it for 80 years. Southern Tea was founded by the great uncle of Jack and Tony Dinos as Atlanta's Mocha Coffee Co. in 1910. The family has maintained a low-profile since the company's sale. They are financial supporters of Kennesaw State University.

U. Bertram (Bert) Ellis

IXL Holding Co.

Ellis recently made the jump from media to new media, after selling off his television holdings last year for a reported $730 million. His new firm, iXL Inc., offers a range of services, including content development for the Internet and video services. He has recently expanded the company's offerings with the Consumer Financial Network, which seeks to save companies money on employee benefits by using technology.

In his new venture, Ellis -- who was Ernst & Young's Master Entrepreneur for 1997 -- is again backed by New York-based Kelso & Co., which also invested in Ellis Communications, his television concern. The firm has already invested $25 million in iXL.

In addition to his home in Atlanta, Ellis has a house in Hilton Head, S.C.

Jack Embry Embry National Bank

Embry, who made millions as a real estate developer, is chairman of Embry National Bank. He is known for his sale of First National Bank of Gwinnett County to First Atlanta for about $20 million in 1985. He also had been a large investor in Peachtree Bank & Trust, a community bank acquired by Trust Co.

Embry and his brother own property throughout the Chamblee area near Interstate 285, including the Embry Hills shopping center.

Jane Fonda Actress, activist

She continues to stand by her man, husband Ted Turner. Fonda hosted another Hollywood-style benefit for the charity she founded, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, in conjunction with the premiere of "Batman and Robin" in June.

More recently, she has promoted volunteerism by encouraging local workers to become mentors to young people, and visited employers to promote the cause.

A two-time Oscar winner and fitness guru who is wealthy in her own right, Fonda continues to reject Hollywood glamour. Instead, she prefers a low-key lifestyle and focuses on issues that have become her principal work.

Chad Foster Entrepreneur

Foster developed a soft, rubber playground surface that he sold to McDonald's for more than $20 million and also to Disney World. He retired at age 33 and then become an author and motivational speaker for teenagers, as well as the host of a popular TV show, "Fly Fishing America," on ESPN.

Foster, now 38, put everything he has learned about success into a book that he self-published two years ago, "Teenagers Preparing for the Real World: A Formula for Success," and he spends about 160 days a year relating his message to thousands of students, educators and business people across the country.

He has sold more than 150,000 copies of his handbook, which he recently updated with new stories and more information. Foster also developed an accompanying curriculum, "Teenagers Preparing for the Real World Teacher's Guide," for grades seven through 12 that outlines a 10-day course that brings business people into the classroom to share their knowledge with students.

Judy Fowler Inheritance

Fowler, of Alpharetta, lives quietly today as one of the only real winners in the bitter 1980s Atlanta newspaper war between Cox Enterprises against The New York Times Co.

Fowler's husband, the late Robert Fowler, built a small media empire in Gwinnett County by purchasing the weekly Lawrenceville News-Herald in 1964 and growing the paper into an award-winning daily covering all of Gwinnett.

In 1987, Fowler and his two partners sold News Co., which published the Gwinnett Daily News, Forsyth County News and Winder News, to The New York Times for as much as $103 million.

The New York Times then launched a bloody battle with The Atlanta Journal and Constitution to grow the Daily News into a metro-wide competitor to the Cox papers.

Five years later, The New York Times conceded defeat to Cox and closed the Daily News.

Today Judy Fowler spends most of her time at home in Country Club of the South. She is an avid tennis player and supports a number of civic causes in and around Gwinnett County.

Dan Garson and family

Lovable Cos.

Dan Garson, 77, is chairman and CEO of a family business formed in 1926. Buford-based Lovable Cos., which is expected to go public within the next few years, designs, manufactures and markets women's intimate apparel. His son, Frank Garson II, is president.

A longtime Buckhead resident, Dan Garson donated money last year to the High Museum to help bring the much-anticipated Picasso exhibit to town.

The Garsons are active local benefactors. Charlotte Garson sits on the board of the High Museum. Dan Garson has said he donates 30 percent of his annual income to groups including United Jewish Appeal; the High Museum; his alma mater, Duke University; Spelman College; the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; and institutions in Gwinnett.

The Gellerstedt Family

Beers Construction Co.

The past 12 months have been active at Beers Construction. Beers finished the massive Atlanta Federal Center and is involved in many major projects in Atlanta and across the Southeast. Although the family sold Beers to a Swedish firm in 1994 for between $50 million and $100 million, the family retained management control of the company. Lawrence Gellerstedt III serves as the company's CEO and chairman.

Beers has built or been involved in building some of Atlanta's most famous projects including NationsBank Plaza, The Coca-Cola Cos.' headquarters, the Georgia Dome and the High Museum of Art.

Gellerstedt is active in many civic organizations, including the Fernbank Science Museum.

The Gordy Family The Varsity

If you are looking for a "Heavyweight" with a "Bag of rags" and a "Frosty O," Nancy G. Simms is the person you need to see. Simms is the owner of The Varsity restaurant, which will turn 70 next year. Simms' father, Frank Gordy, founded the original Varsity at North Avenue and Spring Street in midtown and helped it grow into one of the largest fast-food restaurants in the world. Simms has carried on the family tradition founded on chili dogs, potato chips and orange drinks.

In 1996, the 800-seat restaurant reached $9.1 million in sales -- making it the No. 3 eatery in Atlanta.

Simms is joined in the business by her son Gordon Muir. When she's not working at the restaurant, Simms often is helping other causes, including Reinhardt College. As a member of the 114-year-old Methodist institution's board of trustees, Simms is involved in a $20 million capital campaign.

Frank J. Hanna III and David G. Hanna Blue Cross and Blue Shield

When Blue Cross and Blue Shield changed to for-profit from nonprofit in 1996 and sold part of the company to private investors, it was the Hanna brothers who bought the biggest chunk.

Georgia Strategic Healthcare LLC, controlled and managed by brothers Frank J. Hanna III and David G. Hanna, bought 40,000 shares (a $40 million investment at $1,000 per share) or about 80 percent of the preferred stock of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. The preferred stock is about 22 percent of the company.

Frank Hanna III, in his mid-30s, has been the CEO since 1993 of HBR Capital Ltd., an Atlanta-based investment firm that invests in the financial services and health-care industries. The University of Georgia alumnus began his career in Atlanta as a corporate attorney with Troutman Sanders LLP and later served as president of A. P. Management Inc. He is a founding board member of the Archbishop Donellen School in Atlanta and a Blue Cross board member.

The Hannas' father, Frank J. Hanna Jr., owned Nationwide Credit, an Atlanta-based debt collection company, until it was sold to First Financial Management Corp. in 1990. The deal was valued at $65 million and included an additional $30 million earn-out based on financial performance through 1994.

Dennis Hayes

Hayes Communications Inc.

Hayes, a pioneer in the local technology industry, seems to have ridden out the corporate storm that plagued his namesake company earlier this decade.

Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc. earlier this summer merged with Gaithersburg, Md.-based Access Beyond Inc., another company in the computer connectivity business. Hayes will be the chairman of the new company, which will be called Hayes Communications Inc.

At the time of the merger, the privately held Hayes Microcomputers was worth about $250 million, according to company figures. Dennis Hayes owns approximately half of the company.

Mark Hodges

M.D. Hodges Enterprises Inc.

Mark "M.D." Hodges' name has become synonymous with industrial real estate in Atlanta. Hodges was raised in Oconee and started his career in Milledgeville. He was a bank president before founding Hodges Enterprises, which has developed millions of square feet of office space.

Earlier this year, M.D. Hodges Enterprises won an award from Atlanta Business Chronicle for its lease of a 379,000-square-foot speculative building to James River Corp. of Richmond, Va. The quick lease-up of the entire building prompted Hodges to begin expanding the building by 190,000 square feet. Jeffrey Small Jr., a grandson of M.D. Hodges, is expected to take over the company when M.D. Hodges leaves.

The Holder Family

Holder Corp.

Bob Holder, who has relinquished control of his family building firm to his son Thomas, is enjoying his retirement, spending much of his time at a home in Hawaii. A former chairman of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Bob Holder served as co-chairman of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.

Holder Properties Inc., a subsidiary of Holder Corp., has had a busy year, developing in different submarkets and meeting exceptional success in Royal 400 business park in North Fulton. Holder Properties also is set to begin Oct. 1 on a massive office project at Piedmont Road and Buckhead Loop. Prominence in Buckhead is slated to include 850,000 square feet of office space.

Evander Holyfield Boxer

When all was said and done, it was the fight of his life. As Mike Tyson bit off part of Holyfield's ear in a June 28 battle for the world heavyweight title (which our local boy retained), the Fayetteville resident earned more world-wide attention; he will net about $50 million annually. That should more than cover the mortgage on his elaborate new mansion.

His is newly wed to Janice Holyfield, a doctor who now manages his business affairs.

Holyfield also has strengthened his religious faith. In an Atlanta Business Chronicle interview earlier this year on the champ's marketability, Holyfield said he was pursuing opportunities to "shape the world the way it's supposed to be, to fulfill God's plan."

John P. Imlay Imlay Investments

Considered by many to be the godfather of the Atlanta technology industry (he headed Management Science America, later known as Dun & Bradstreet Software Inc.), Imlay's employees now run their own companies around town. He is nominally retired now, but holds court and dispenses advice from his Resurgens Plaza office and the Ruth's Chris Steak House across the street.

Imlay spends three months of the year at his home in Scotland, where he is a member of numerous golf clubs, including Royal Troon. He has found a way to link his love of the links to the work of the Imlay Foundation; 15 percent of its funds go to Scottish charities. Foundation money has also come from the sales of his book, "Jungle Rules: How to Be a Tiger in Business," which recently has been released overseas.

In addition, Imlay is one of two minority owners, with Tom Watson Brown, of the Atlanta Falcons.

Elton John Entertainer

It's been the best of times and worst of times for Atlanta's favorite rock star. His career is soaring, keeping Elton on the road and away from his Park Place condominium furnished with the finest art and antiques money can buy.

But he's suffered several personal losses in recent months: first, the July slaying of close friend Gianni Versace (John was known to spend thousands on clothes created by his designer of choice). Then came the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in late August. His rendition of "Candle in the Wind" at her globally-televised funeral on Sept. 6 left millions of mourners with a lasting image.

He continues to work as a visible AIDS activist, serving as honorary chairman of this year's AIDS Walk fundraiser and funding his Elton John AIDS Foundation.

F. Ross Johnson Former CEO, RJR Nabisco

A native of Canada, Johnson is best known for arranging the sale of RJR Nabisco Inc. to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Johnson, who retired from RJR is 1989, received about $60 million in salary and pension after the sale but he received no direct funds from the $25 billion sale, the largest sale ever of a company.

Today, Johnson spends his time as chairman and CEO of The RJM Group, an investment company and also as chairman of other boards. He has handed over much of the control of RJM to his son Neil. Still, Johnson continues to manage investments and is looking for new opportunities. In November, Johnson sold his interests in Peterson Properties to CarrAmerica Realty Corp. of Washington, D.C.

He is a supporter of Zoo Atlanta and gives significant annual contributions to the Phi Delta Theta scholarship fund.

Campbell B. Lanier

ITC Holding Co.

From his headquarters in West Point, Ga., Lanier has built an impressive empire in the telecommunications

arena. After selling his long-distance company, Telecom*USA, to MCI Communications Corp. in 1990 for $2 billion, Lanier has backed and cultivated a number of companies -- among them Atlanta-based MindSpring Enterprises Inc., an Internet service provider.

With the passage of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (which greatly loosened the regulatory atmosphere of the industry), Lanier has gotten more active in the business again. Through ITC^Deltacom, an ITC company, he plans to offer local and long-distance service to business customers. In addition, his ITC Globe Telecommunications recently teamed with Newnan Gas & Light to offer phone service to residents of that Georgia town.

Peter Loftin BTI Telecommunications Services

Loftin, an Atlanta resident, is the majority owner of BTI Telecommunications Services, a long-distance phone carrier based in Raleigh, N.C. In the post-Telecommunications Act regulatory environment, companies such as BTI have flourished; this year, BTI got into the business of selling long-distance service to smaller companies to re-sell, providing a revenue stream of $6 million a month.

Privately held BTI had $150 million in revenues for 1996, according to figures submitted to the Federal Communications Commission; revenues for this year should top $200 million, largely on the strength of the resale business.

The company caused a minor controversy in its hometown earlier this year when BTI donated $3 million to the arts and requested a building be named after the firm in return. Columnists alternately condemned and praised Loftin's company, one side praising BTI's generosity, the other side frowning on its hubris.

The Love Family

Printpack Inc.

Dennis M. Love had a big year. His company, Printpack Inc., doubled its $590 million in revenues with the acquisition of a James River Corp. packaging unit. The $365 million acquisition sent Printpack to the No. 1 spot in the flexible packaging industry. The acquisition added 10 manufacturing plants to Printpack's 16, including its first plant in Mexico. Printpack also broke ground on a new plant south of the border last year.

Love, president and CEO of the private company, is a native Atlantan and sits on the boards of directors of SunTrust Banks of Georgia Inc., Cleveland Electric Co., the Buckhead Coalition, Stone Mountain Industrial Park Inc. and the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta.

A Princeton graduate, Dennis Love, 40, has spent his entire career at the family business.

Three other children of the founder, J. Erskine Love Jr., work in the business he began in 1956. Gay Love, company matriarch and widow of the founder, is chairman and was ranked No. 10 on Working Woman magazine's list of the top 50 women business owners in the United States last year.

Lewis Manderson

Cordova Capital Inc.

The founder of Atlanta's fourth-largest venture capital firm, Manderson is enjoying the fruits of his labor. Although continuing to act as chairman of Cordova Capital Inc., Manderson is now semi-retired and spends the winter at a home in Naples, Fla.

Earlier this year, the company established a $30 million fund aimed at early-stage technology companies.

He founded the investment company after developing a fortune in the outdoor advertising business. Prior to that, Manderson was a car salesman who hailed from the mill town of Cordova, Ala.

He's a supporter of his alma mater, the University of Alabama, which he attended before becoming a World War II pilot, and its graduate school of business school is named for him.

An avid golfer with six children, Manderson enjoys traveling and reading. He'll turn 72 in October.

Arthur Montgomery Investments

The Montgomery family of Atlanta built its fortune through an early involvement with The Coca-Cola Co. Arthur Montgomery's grandfather, an attorney for Coca-Cola at the turn of the century, bought a 33 percent interest in The Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in 1903 and took over management of the plant.

His sons and grandsons managed the bottling operation until the company was sold to Coca-Cola in the early 1980s for about $60 million. Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Co. is now a unit of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.

Best known as an arts patron and former chairman of the Fox Theatre, Arthur and his wife, Julie, have also endowed a percussion chair at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Arthur Montgomery's other passion is automobiles. The Ferrari enthusiast founded the Road Atlanta raceway in Braselton in 1970.

Edward Noble

Noble Properties Inc.

Noble, CEO of Noble Properties and a trustee of his family's massive charitable foundation, is best known for giving Atlanta one of its most successful malls, Lenox Square.

Noble's father, Lloyd Noble, was a pioneer in oil exploration in Oklahoma. Lloyd Noble willed most of his $10 million estate to the charitable foundation he established in the name of his father. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation owns stock in the family's two companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Orkin Family Investments

The descendants of the original Orkin Man, Otto Orkin (who founded Orkin Pest Control in 1901), have used the windfall from selling the company to Rollins Inc. some 30 years ago to build a mini-empire in real estate and investments.

In late 1996, William B. Orkin, one of Otto's sons, sold 554 acres he controlled off Windward Parkway in Alpharetta to Hines Interests LP. Real estate records showed the first 123 acres Hines closed on netted Orkin $7.7 million. William Orkin's brother Sanford bought some 922 acres of undeveloped industrial land near Athens for more than $7 million in 1995.

Sanford's son Ken and William's son Adam are among the third generation of Orkins to dabble in real estate. Another son of Sanford's, Michael, is a principal in Caldwell & Orkin Inc., an Atlanta-based investment management firm.

The Paradies Family

Paradies Shops Inc.

The Paradies family operates airport gift shops around the country.

Privately-held Paradies Shop is the exclusive licensee of the PGA Tour Shop and exclusive retailer for the World Golf Hall of Fame, a $1.5 billion project in Jacksonville, Fla.

Associated with the Atlanta airport scandal several years ago, the company has been able to maintain its course. Richard Dickson, who handles the operations of the company, said last year was the most successful year in the history of the company. In that time, the company has won 17 new airport contracts and extended 10 contracts.

Solon Patterson Montag & Caldwell

Patterson, chairman and CEO of mutual fund manager Montag & Caldwell, is considered by many Atlanta business people to be the father of the South's first mutual fund.

Patterson grew up in a middle-class house across the street from Inman Middle School in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. He has been instrumental in Montag & Caldwell's rise to more than $1 billion in assets under management and into national prominence as a top fund-management company.

He graduated from Grady High School and then went on to complete Emory University's MBA program. After graduating from Emory, Patterson worked for Vick Chemical Co., which developed Vick's Vapor Rub and was eventually bought by Proctor & Gamble. Patterson was chairman in 1996 of the United Way's first fund-raising program targeted Atlanta's investment and securities industry.

The Pattillo Family Construction and real estate

The Pattillo family name has become synonymous with real estate development, especially industrial development, in Atlanta. H.G. "Pat" Pattillo founded The Pattillo Cos. with his father and his brother Dan more than 40 years ago. Robert Pattillo broke away from Pattillo Cos. in 1994 and formed Robert Pattillo Properties, which assumed 40 percent of Pattillo Cos.' assets.

Robert's sisters, Elizabeth Parker and Lynn Pattillo, continue involvement with Pattillo Cos. including Pattillo Construction Co.

John D. Phillips Telecommunications

The brash telecommunications mogul has made his money by taking disparate entities, stripping them down and turning them into profit centers. Most recently, he engineered the merger of US ONE Communications Corp. and Phoenix Network Inc. with the intent of making more acquisitions and creating a new national phone company. Phillips has not given a name to the new venture.

Phillips is at heart a family man; he makes a point of eating dinner with his wife, Cheryl, and four children, two of whom attend The Lovett School.

In addition to his home in Atlanta, he has a house in Sea Island, "a gentle place for my children to do their growing up," as well as an 850-acre farm in Charlottesville, Va., his home state.

The Pike Family Pike Nurseries

Pete Pike was raised on a farm in Hogansville, Ga. A job at a small nursery while he was in the Navy inspired him to open his own business.

Today, Pike Family Nurseries has 25 stores that are expected to bring in approximately $70 million in revenues this year. The company also has two wholesale divisions and 600 employees.

Pete runs the company with his wife, Jerri; son Randy and daughter Dana. His son Gary left the company earlier this year to pursue a career in the ministry.

The family contributes each year to the Southeastern Flower Show at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the Festival of Trees at Egleston Children's Hospital. They also coordinate education programs for area schools.

Antonio "L.A." Reid LaFace Records

The Cincinnati native has created what's billed as "Motown South" by industry observers, LaFace Records. Reid founded the record company with producer/singer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmunds in 1990. Since then, the company has sold more than 30 million albums and created a roster of stars that includes Toni Braxton, TLC and Tony Rich. He is now taking the company into the movie realm, with the Sept. 16 release soundtrack to "Soul Food." The movie is produced by a company owned by Edmunds and his wife, Tracey.

Divorced, Reid resides in Sandy Springs and is the father of two children.

The Richards Family

Southwire Inc.

Southwire, a Carollton-based maker of electrical wire and cable, has been controlled by the Richards family since the death of founder Roy Richards in 1985. Richards' widow, Alice Huffard Richards, is still involved in the operation of the company, but other family members are running the show day-to-day.

Roy Richards Jr. is chairman and CEO; brother Lee Richards is president of the company's technology sales division. Another brother, James Richards, left Southwire two years ago to start his own money management firm in Atlanta.

With sales of more than $1.7 billion in 1996, Southwire's greatest growth potential remains in emerging markets. The compnay plans new facilities in Latin America and Asia.

Outside the business, Roy Richards Jr. is the current president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He also recently donated $1.5 million to the State University of West Georgia in Carrollton.

Clyde Rodbell

Apex Supply Co.

Building on the business started by his father in 1912, Rodbell led Apex through its biggest acquisition ever in May, buying Savannah-based Davis Supply Co. Apex, which distributes plumbing, heating, air-conditioning and specialty building products, had $173 million in sales last year.

Rodbell, 70, stepped down as Apex's president last year to be succeeded by his nephew Sidney but remains chairman and CEO. Kennesaw State University named Apex the family business of the year in 1996.

After serving in George Bush's presidential campaign, Rodbell was a member of the Electoral College that ratified Bush's victory; then he served on the White House Fellowship Commission. More recently he has been involved in preparations for Sen. Paul Coverdell's re-election effort.

Rodbell is president of the Emory University Board of Visitors and is on the boards of the Shepherd Spinal Center, Camp Sunshine, the local Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and several industry groups. He spends his free time plowing through a book a week and his garden.

Joseph Rogers Jr. Waffle House Inc.

Rogers, the president of Norcross-based Waffle House Inc., is a private man. His father, Joe Rogers Sr., co-founded the company with real estate developer Thomas Forkner. The first Waffle House opened in Avondale Estates, Ga., in 1955. In fiscal 1997, the company posted food service revenue of $279 million, a 7 percent decrease from the previous year, according to a ranking by Nation's Restaurant News.

The Russell Family

H.J. Russell & Co.

In November 1996, Herman Russell took the bold step of turning over the reins of his real estate and construction company to someone outside of his

family. Russell tapped R.K. Sehgal, former CEO of Law Companies Group Inc., as his company's new CEO and vice chairman. Russell's sons, Jerome and Michael, took the selection in stride, saying they looked forward to working with and learning from Sehgal.

The Russell family owns 90 percent of H.J. Russell.

Herman Russell serves on the boards of Wachovia Bank, National Services Industries and the Georgia Ports Authority. In charities, he focuses his efforts on youth-related organizations; he serves on the national board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and is active with the Butler Street YMCA.

Milton Saul Investor, former Turtle's owner

A founder of the Turtle's music store chain, Saul made a bundle when the company was sold to Blockbuster Entertainment. The 72-year-old also co-owns World Import Co. Inc. with Alvin Halpern. Among World Import's ventures are several area liquor stores, including All-American and Hal's.

Saul also is an investor in the Chapter 11 bookstore chain run by his daughter, Barbara Babbit Kaufman.

The Selig Family

Selig Enterprises Inc.

Selig Enterprises made a Page One splash in June when it acquired the 30-acre, 22-building Logan Circle complex in the Chattahoochee Industrial corridor for $11 million. Selig President S. Stephen Selig III said the acquisition epitomized the company's commitment to the city of Atlanta.

The purchase gave Selig Enterprises a huge presence in the corridor where the family patriarch first developed industrial buildings in the 1950s. During the past 12 months, Selig Enterprises has begun or concluded 10 industrial and retail projects.

The Seligs donated a building on Spring Street that houses the Atlanta Jewish Federation and William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.

Stephen Selig serves as federation president and his wife, Linda, and sister Cathy sit on its board. Stephen Selig also serves on the University of Georgia Foundation, The Lovett School and Spelman College boards.

Stephen Selig said his first "real job" was in the Mortgage Loan Department of the defunct Fulton National Bank.

Deen Day Smith

Days Inn of America Inc.

Many Atlantans might remember Smith for surviving a 1991 Chilean plane crash that killed Ann Crammond, longtime director of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and 19 other passengers. In 1997, however, Smith gained acclaim as the American Mother's Association's Georgia Mother of the Year for the excellent rearing of her five children: Kathie, Burke, Clint, Peyton and Parke.

Smith also was recognized in 1997 with the Georgia Freedom Award, presented annually to a Georgian who "exemplifies the principles of free enterprise, individual responsibility and limited government." Past recipients include Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy and former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell.

A lover of the outdoors and community service, Smith pitched in $10,000 earlier this year to help save Gwinnett County's financially troubled Vines Botanical Gardens. In the past, she donated funds to construct the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., in memory of her first husband, Days Inn of America Inc. founder Cecil B. Day, who died in 1978. In 1983, she married Moultrie, Ga., business man Charles O. Smith Jr., who died in 1995.

Smith is currently chairman of the board of the Cecil B. Day Investment Co. in Atlanta.

Rankin Smith Sr.

Atlanta Falcons

Rankin Smith Sr. got the deal of a lifetime in 1965 when he paid $8.5 million for an expansion NFL franchise, the Atlanta Falcons. At the time, Smith was already a wealthy man whose family controlled the Life of Georgia insurance firm.

Smith personally netted about $27 million from the sale of Life of Georgia to a Dutch firm in 1979.

But the Smith family's net worth is primarily tied to the Falcons' fortunes.

In the 32 years since the purchase, the value of the Falcons -- despite a mediocre on-field record -- has grown to an estimated $178 million, an average annual return of about 62 percent on the original investment.

As part of his estate planning, Smith, 72, has transferred much of his ownership in the team to his five children. His son Taylor is president of the team.

He headed the Fernbank Museum of Natural History's Board of Trustees when the museum opened in 1992, and is a major financial supporter of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Charles Smithgall Publishing magnate

Smithgall earned his fortune in the publishing business, selling the small-town Gwinnett Daily News to The New York Times when the suburban county was the nation's fastest-growing area.

Smithgall was one of the original stockholders in the paper, which started as a weekly in 1964. The company also published the Forsyth County News and Winder News, among other free publications. All were sold to The New York Times Co., with the purchase price for the Gwinnett Daily News alone estimated to be between $30 million and $45 million.

The 87-year-old Smithgall made news when the family donated a 55-acre tract of land, known as Dukes Creek State Conservation Area/Smithgall Woods, to the state in 1994 for about half its appraised value of $22 million.

Mack Taylor Taylor and Mathis

The past year has been an interesting one for Taylor's real estate company. Fresh off selling its landmark development Perimeter Center, Taylor &

Mathis embarked on a new development spree in Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton counties.

The company has moved away from its low-key approach and is drawing attention to its developments and accomplishments.

Taylor started the company with the late T. Harvey Mathis. When the company sold its signature Perimeter Center development in 1996, the company received $13 million in stock from the buyer, Beacon Properties Corp.

Taylor's son, Andrew Taylor, serves as company president and works closely with Executive Vice President Jimmy Fluker.

Russell V. Umphenour RTM Restaurant Group

After starting his restaurant career in 1967 making $1.50 an hour as counterperson at an Arby's in Michigan, Umphenour has come full circle 30 years later. Already the largest Arby's franchisee, Umphenour's company, Atlanta-based RTM Restaurant Group, bought out all of the remaining company-owned Arby's restaurants in 1997.

The 354-restaurant acquisition brought RTM's total restaurant holdings to 1,064. Of these restaurants; 204 are franchised out to other operators. Other brands in RTM's portfolio are Mrs. Winner's Chicken & Biscuits, Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken and Shoney's.

Umphenour follows the motto of "dream big, work hard, play fair, have fun and make a difference." His company, founded in 1973, now reports sales of $700 million. He is married and has one son.

John F. Wieland

John Wieland Homes Inc.

The man whose signature graces monument signs in front of countless metro Atlanta subdivisions has turned home building into an art form and has made himself one of the region's more enduring entrepreneurial success stories.

Wieland began building homes in the Southeast in 1970. In 27 years, his privately held company has built more than 11,000 homes across the Southeast.

In 1996, the College Park-based company posted sales of $337 million, up more than 35 percent from 1995. And Wieland has parlayed his commercial success into high-profile positions on the Jack Kemp-chaired National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform and the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

The Winship Family

Since H. Dillon Winship bought Georgia Highway Express, the state's first trucking company, in Macon in 1928, it has evolved into three Atlanta companies under the leadership of separate lines of children and grandchildren.

The companies have shared ownership and combined sales of about $120 million. Winship Group Inc., the biggest, is run by son Wadleigh. The company, which operates as SurfAir, is an air freight forwarder.

Transus Inc., the surviving trucking business, was the biggest of the companies until the Winships sold its less-than-truckload operations to USFreightways Corp. for $27 million last year. The remaining fourth of the company hauls shipping containers to and from Southeast ports. Grandson Blanton C. Winship is Transus' CEO. The company operates as Transus Intermodal LLC under a recent joint venture and opened terminals in Dallas, Memphis, Tenn., and Greensboro, N.C. this year.

TXS Communications Inc., which operates as Transettlements Inc., offers electronic-data interchange services, mostly for truck fleets.

Chuck Wolf Wolf Camera & Video

The president and CEO of the successful camera store chain has not slowed down this year. Wolf Camera & Video just celebrated its 300th store opening and continues to open and acquire stores at a rapid pace.

Wolf, who founded the chain 23 years ago, spends much of his time traveling to the different stores around the country meeting with associates and customers.

Wolf Camera's goal is 580 stores by 2000, according to its strategic plan for 20 percent growth per year. So far, the privately held company is exceeding its own expectations.

The company received the "Best of the Best" award in 1996 from the Photo Marketing Association.

He has three passions: his family, which includes his wife, Missi, his two grown children, Alex and Tracey, and eight-month-old Madeline; golf (sources say he plays a respectable game) and business.

Wolf jogs in his free time and likes to travel. He is involved with several community and charitable organizations, sitting on the boards of the First Union Bank, Georgia State University Business School, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Georgia Center for Children and the board of visitors of Emory University. He also works with the United Way, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the American Jewish Committee.

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