Each year, the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics inducts outstanding professionals into the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame who have made significant and lasting contributions in the areas of national/international business, state-based enterprises and entrepreneurial and family businesses.
Inductees for 2015 include Michael Bodnar, CEO of Fresh Hospitality, Nashville, Tennessee; Don Panoz, entrepreneur, Braselton, Georgia; and H.B. “Bernie” Wehrle, III, director, MRC Global Inc., Houston, Texas. They will be honored at an evening ceremony and reception on Nov. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia.
The West Virginia University College of Business and Economics initiated the award in 2001 to recognize people with strong West Virginia ties who have made a significant impact on the landscape of business. The West Virginia Business Hall of Fame has 60 inductees to date.
“The individuals we induct this year have made significant contributions to the business landscape in West Virginia and across the nation,” said B&E Interim Dean Nancy McIntyre. “These are people who are real success stories, and who have demonstrated tenacity, vision and passion in all they do. It’s an honor to welcome them into the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame.”
Currently, Bodnar is actively involved as real estate investor and equity capitalist in start-up restaurants, as well as the more established restaurant brand of Jim & Nick’s BBQ. For the past several years his focus has been on developing and growing restaurants in the fast casual segment, which include Taziki’s Mediterranean Grill, Baha Burgers, Tellini’s Italian Caf� and Martin’s BBQ Joint. Bodnar spent five years as CFO and CAO of Shoney’s, Inc. (averaging about $100 million annually). He graduated from WVU with a civil engineering degree and MBA in 1970, and upon graduation, he became an early franchisee of Wendy’s International with operations in Alabama and Georgia. In addition, he founded a software company that became the back office software provided for the Wendy’s system. Over a decade, he built a very successful business and took the company public (Restaurant Systems Incorporated) with more than $50 million in revenue. Bodnar also developed a 20-unit chain of double drive-thru restaurants called Maxie’s in the panhandle of Florida, and sold the chain to Rally’s in 1994. In addition, he and a partner own Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a gem of the Rockies Ski Area with 500 skiable acres.
Panoz is managing partner of DeltaWing Project 56 LLC and chairman of DeltaWing Technologies Inc., a Georgia-based automotive technologies company committed to helping automotive manufacturers deliver fuel efficient and emissions-reducing technologies. His distinguished career began in 1961 when he and fellow WVU alum Milan “Mike” Puskar founded the company formerly known as Milan Pharmaceuticals in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, making Panoz the youngest president of a pharmaceutical company in the United States. Milan evolved into Mylan, a company that now sells an estimated 1,300 products to more than 140 countries and territories worldwide. In the 1970s, Panoz created Elan Corp. in Ireland, a leader in drug delivery products and technology, and led a research team that created time-release medication through a transdermal patch, commonly used today as the nicotine patch. Elan Corp. was the first Irish company to be publicly listed on the U.S. Stock Exchange, and today Panoz retains more than 300 pharmaceutical industry patents. He also founded Elan Technologies including Elan Composites, Elan Power, Elan Precision and Elan Fabrication; and the Panoz Institute at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, which houses the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. In 2013, he became the 29th inductee into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.
Wehrle began his career with McJunkin Corporation in 1973, holding various positions in sales and finance. He became president in 1987, CEO in 1992 and retired from the company in September 2008. He is currently a member of the board of directors for MRC Global, the successor company to McJunkin Corporation. He is a member of the board of trustees of the University of Charleston, a board member of the Airport Authority for Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia, a director of BIPAC (Business and Industry Political Action Committee) and a director of the Mountain Company in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He is affiliated with the American Supply Association and the Young President Organization. His wife, Cecelia, graduated from the former WVU College of Arts and Science in 1976; Wehrle graduated from Princeton University in 1973 and received an MBA in finance from Georgia State University in 1979.
For extensive biographies of the three inductees as well as more information on the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame, go to http://www.be.wvu.edu/hall_fame. To learn more about the College of Business and Economics, visit www.be.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics
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