2001 Laureates

Frank L. Leonard

Frank Leonard grew up running a business and has never stopped. When Frank was in the fifth grade his father became paralyzed. It was during Word War II and only those unable to join the service were available to work. It fell to Frank to operate the family dairy farm in Washington County, Virginia.

"I was in the fifth grade. We had all of the milk trucks that served and picked up the milk from all the farmers in Sullivan County and Washington County, Virginia. I was the only one who knew the routes and being able to read and write I would be the one to deliver all the milk checks to the farmers. We would start out about 5:30 AM picking up milk at the farms, and I would be at school at 11 o'clock, stay until five o'clock and then go home and milk the cows."

His early business experience led to a path toward entrepreneurship. Today, this 2001 Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame laureate is chairman and CEO of Electro-Mechanical Corporation and its subsidiaries: Line Power Manufacturing Corporation.; the Electric Motor Repair and Sales Company; the Metal Castings Company; Potter Rayfield Coil Equipment Company; Federal Pacific Transformer Company; The Centre; and Power Line Limousin Farms.

Leonard served during the Korean War in both the Army and Navy, and attended Virginia Tech. He graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the General Electric (GE) Engineering Training Program. Upon completing the GE training program, his first assignment with GE was in New York, but Leonard didn't like the big city. "New York is awfully nice to visit, but you want to be able to leave when you elect to leave," he says.

Leonard married Jacqueline Fleenor and returned to Bristol to start his own electric motor repair business. They borrowed $440 and started the business in 1958. Electro-Mechanical has experienced major expansions and spin-offs of new businesses over more than 40 years. In addition to more than 650,000 square feet of modern manufacturing and service facilities, Electro-Mechanical operates a corporate headquarters and a full-time stand alone conference center for customer and employee training.

Leonard is a strong advocate of continuous improvement for workers. "In order for a company to be a mature company, it is going to have to practice those things to get involvement from all the employees. We've done that since the very first day we opened," he says.

As his business interests have grown, Leonard has increased his civic involvement. He currently serves as a director for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce; as a member of the Virginia Tech Business Advisory Council and the Governor's Economic Task Force for the Tri-Cities; as a member of the Emory & Henry College Board of Visitors; as a member of the Tri-Cities Advisory Board for AmSouth Bank; as a member of the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts of America; and as a member of State Street United Methodist Church.

He has been the recipient of the following awards: the Paul Harris Fellow and the 4-Way Test Award from Rotary International; Emory & Henry Charter Day Honoree; and the Silver Eagle Award from Boy Scouts of America; Wellmont Foundation Citizen Hall of Fame.

Other past activities include chairman of the board for Charter Federal Savings Bank; the board of directors of Dominion Bank; the chairman of the board of the Paramount Center for the Arts; and president of the Electrical Apparatus Service Association.

Leonard is particularly proud of his company's involvement in the "Relay For Life" project, a regional effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society. " This effort is making Bristol and the Tri-Cities a leader for raising money."

Frank and Jacqueline Fleenor Leonard reside in Bristol, Tennessee and Naples, Florida and have four children, Roger Leonard, Russell Leonard, Robin Leonard-North and Renee Leonard-Kennedyand nine grandchildren. His interests include golf, hunting, fishing, and farming.