Fourth Annual Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

George Fischer, Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton, Billy Harper and the late R. J. Corman to be honored November 20, 2013 in Louisville, KY.

Lexington, KY – November 8, 2013 – George Fischer, Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton, Billy Harper and the late R. J. Corman will be inducted into the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Wednesday, November 20, 2013, at 6 p.m. at the Ice House, 226 East Washington Street in Louisville.
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.

Tickets for the Fourth Annual Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are available for $75 per person; reservations are required. Sponsorships are also available. To reserve a seat or for information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit

Details about the inductees for the fourth annual event:

George Fischer – After several successful years at IBM, Fischer was a founder of MetriData Company Inc., a leader in the field of proprietary education when it was sold to Sun Oil in 1979. Fischer and his sons went on to launch Servend International Inc. in 1980, which became the number one manufacturer of ice and beverage dispensing systems nationally and internationally. In that same year, he became secretary of Governor John Y. Brown, Jr.’s Executive Cabinet. Fischer has shared his talents as a mentor and investor for many new startups, and is former chair of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees and Junior Achievement. Dr. Fischer received an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Spalding University and was elected “Louisvillian of the Year” in 2012.

Richard J. Corman – A “larger than life” native of Nicholasville, Kentucky, Corman began his remarkable career in 1973 working in railroad construction with a single backhoe. Within 20 years, he had developed several companies into what is today one of the nation’s leading railroad service providers. Headquartered in Nicholasville, there are several R. J. Corman divisions employing approximately 1,200 people across 23 other states as far west as Arizona and Montana. Principle operating companies include shortline railroads; R.J. Corman provides track material distribution, track construction, industrial switching, and emergency derailment and natural disaster response services. Leaving a legacy of great integrity and kindness, one senior editor of Fortune Magazine described Mr. Corman as “the most unforgettable character I’ve ever met in my more than a half-century at Fortune.”

Billy Harper – Harper, founder of Harper Industries, has more than 40 years of executive leadership experience in construction. Harper has structured a strong and diverse company poised for long-term growth. Harper’s passion for giving back to the community has led him to serve on both state and national boards for the Council of Economic Education, Associated General Contractors, and the Governor’s Scholars Program. He has been Chair of Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, served on the Kentucky State School Board of Education and is chairman and a founding member of The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky. Harper also has been inducted into the UK Engineering Hall of Distinction.

Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton – Gatton worked for a trust company in Lexington until he started a successful Volkswagen dealership in Owensboro in 1959. In 1975, he and four of his friends purchased the Owensboro National Bank and formed a holding company, which grew from a single bank with $100 million in assets to 17 banks with $3 billion in assets by the time it was sold to BB&T in 2001. Gatton served as Chairman for nearly 20 years. He has owned and operated as many as twelve automobile dealerships in Tennessee, Texas and Alabama, and has owned substantial farm land in Fayette County and in Tennessee. Harper is the recipient of numerous awards and is a Trustee of UK. He founded the Bill Gatton Foundation in 1985, which contributes substantial sums to support the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics and the Gatton Academy of Math & Science at WKU and many other charitable and educational organizations.

The four 2013 inductees will join the three former classes:

2010 Inductees :

Ralph G. Anderson

Governor John Y. Brown Jr.

Pearse Lyons

Davis Marksbury

Warren Rosenthal

John Schnatter

Lee Todd

William T. Young Sr.

2011 Inductees:

Dana Bowers,

David Jones Sr.

Wendell Cherry

Kent Taylor

Bill Samuels Jr.

2012 Inductees:

Ron Geary

Bruce Lunsford

Terry Forcht

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 on November 16, 2010, in Lexington.
Sponsors of this year’s event include Lunsford Capital; Delta Dental, Marksbury Family Foundation; Forcht Group; Jim Host; Robert Schneider/Morgan Stanley; UK MBA Program; U of L College of Business; Kent Oyler, Kentucky Science &Technology Corp; Hanna Resource Group; Rick Kueber/Sun Tan City; OPM Services; York Management; Kentucky Small Business Development Centers; and Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneur Week.

Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame 2013 inductee photos are available upon request. The Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame web site is

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