April 17, 2013

Business Hall of Fame recognizes ‘hotbed of entrepreneurship’

Charles Oliver

— Joe Yarbrough came to Dalton in 1972 to work for Coronet Industries. He says he had no idea that 41 years later he would be inducted into Junior Achievement Northwest Georgia Business Hall of Fame.

“I’m so privileged and honored to be part of this illustrious group,” said Yarbrough, who is now senior vice president of advanced manufacturing for Mohawk Industries. “Some of the people who have been previously honored have been mentors of mine. I’m overwhelmed, and frankly I don’t have sense that I deserve to be one of that group.”

Yarbrough was one of three individuals inducted into the hall Tuesday night at the Junior Achievement of Georgia Northwest Georgia chapter’s eighth annual banquet. Joining him were Dalton Mayor David Pennington and the late W.W. “Bill” Fincher Jr., a  businessman and long-time state senator. There are now 28 members of the Hall of Fame.

Pennington said he was “pleasantly surprised and very honored” when he found out he was going to be inducted. He noted that several of the previous inductees lived on the same street he was raised on in Dalton. He also said he was happy the Hall of Fame banquet supports Junior Achievement.

“If you think business is important, then Junior Achievement has to be important,” Pennington said. “Business pays for everything else and the young men and young women who take part in Junior Achievement are our future business leaders.”

A graduate of Dalton High School, Dalton Junior College and the University of Georgia. Pennington has spent most of his professional career in the insurance industry. He was elected mayor of Dalton in 2007 and re-elected in 2011.

Fincher’s award was accepted by his daughters.

“We are so proud, my sisters and I,” said Mary Jane Peterson, one of Fincher’s three daughters. “He would have loved it and been very appreciative. He loved Dalton and Whitfield County and Murray County, and he loved the people here. He would have been so honored.”

Born in Canton, Fincher came to Chatsworth after completing pharmacy school at the University of South Carolina in 1933. He opened a pharmacy in downtown Chatsworth that he operated for 16 years before selling and later operated a chain of theaters.

In 1964, Fincher was elected to the Georgia State Senate from the 54th District, where he  served for 26 years.

Yarbrough graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University in 1970. He currently serves on a number of boards, including those of Dalton Utilities and the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce.

The Northwest Georgia chapter of Junior Achievement has been around 49 years, and Junior Achievement of Georgia President Jack Harris said that makes it one of the oldest chapters on the nation.

“This whole part of the state is a hotbed of entrepreneurship and new business,” he said.

State Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, was presented with the Rising Star Award, which highlights a younger person who is making strides in the business world. A graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and School of Law, Bethel is the director of human resources for J&J Industries. He currently represents District 54 in the state Senate and previously served on the Dalton City Council.