2022 Virginia Enterprise Individual of the Yr: Jim McGlothlin

United Co. chairman trusts his intestine

Kate Andrews

Jim McGlothlin, a local of Buchanan County, began out as a Bristol legal professional and have become a coal magnate. Now he’s a accomplice within the state’s first on line casino, in addition to a serious philanthropist. Photograph by Earl Neikirka

Jim McGlothlin had by no means actually thought a lot about work. He was extra of a music man, a fan of Elvis, whom he noticed in live performance six months earlier than the King’s 1977 demise.

However the artwork of the deal — on this case, profitable a beneficial art work at an public sale — was a well-known feeling. 

“That’s what I do — make offers,” displays the 82-year-old Bristol, Virginia-based businessman who constructed a fortune from a chance on coal mines through the Twentieth century after which pivoted to hospitality because the coal enterprise started to recede.

Alongside the way in which, he and his spouse, Frances Gibson McGlothlin, grew to become main American artwork collectors and philanthropists. And in his ninth decade, McGlothlin is arguably the particular person most answerable for Virginia’s legalization of economic casinos, in addition to a accomplice within the $400 million Laborious Rock Lodge and On line casino Bristol, which opened in a brief house this summer season because the state’s first on line casino.

In recognition of his lifelong achievements in enterprise, his vital philanthropic help for the Virginia Museum of Nice Arts, and his affect on statewide financial improvement, Virginia Enterprise has named Jim McGlothlin its 2022 Individual of the Yr.

The son of two Southwest Virginia natives, McGlothlin grew up in Buchanan County, in “just a little place known as Oakwood, which is about 15 miles from Grundy,” he says with a mountain lilt that conveys his origins. “We have been in just a little mining group, and I had two brothers, my mother and pop. Faculty was fantastic. We performed ball and [had] Boy Scouts, church actions. It’s only a fantastic place to develop up.”

His father was an accountant for a coal firm and a graduate of Emory & Henry Faculty, whereas McGlothlin’s mom was a Radford alumna who taught college earlier than turning into a mom. 

McGlothlin was a soccer and basketball participant on the former Backyard Excessive Faculty and was a robust pupil, particularly in math. Early in his teenagers, he set his sights on attending William & Mary and turning into a lawyer.

A cousin returned from army service throughout World Conflict II, after which went to William & Mary’s regulation college. “He got here to our home to go to for a weekend,” McGlothlin remembers. “He instructed every kind of tales about regulation college and his fascination with it. From that day on — I keep in mind it like yesterday — I needed to be a lawyer. That was the dream.”

And like many objectives McGlothlin has set for himself, that dream got here true.

Putting a deal

McGlothlin and 6 companions bought a Buchanan coal firm at public sale in 1970, a deal that began United Coal Co., which grew to become a billion-dollar enterprise by the point it was bought in 2009. Photograph by Earl Neikirk

Clyde Stacy, who has been McGlothlin’s pleasant competitor and occasional enterprise accomplice for a lot of the 2 males’s careers, was in eighth grade when he met McGlothlin, who was then a highschool senior.

“I’ll inform you this story — he most likely received’t prefer it — however after I met him in eighth grade, the rationale I seen him [was] one man grabbed one thing of Jim’s, and so they have been going at it, wrestling round,” Stacy remembers. “Jim grabs [the other guy’s] tennis footwear and ties them collectively and tells him, ‘You give that again, or I’m going to throw these on high of the gymnasium.’ Jim threw the footwear on high of the constructing, which was most likely 40 ft excessive. I don’t know the way [the guy] ever acquired them again. It was actually humorous.”

Stacy says his friendship with McGlothlin began in earnest after the 2 have been younger adults and businessmen, and continues at present.

“Most individuals know Jim as a really critical businessperson, and that’s the way in which he comes throughout more often than not, however he’s enjoyable to be round,” Stacy says.

At William & Mary, McGlothlin majored in psychology, whereas additionally working as a waiter at King’s Arms Tavern, certainly one of Colonial Williamsburg’s eating places nonetheless open at present. “Then, when college began within the fall, I drove [a] college bus within the morning and the afternoon,” he remembers. “I additionally belonged to a fraternity, and that was most likely very distracting [to] getting all my work performed. I used to be a really mediocre pupil in undergraduate college. By the way in which, I acquired rejected for regulation college at William & Mary.”

When that occurred — a consequence of below-average grades and a low LSAT rating — McGlothlin went to see W&M Legislation Faculty Dean Dudley Woodbridge, “and he simply flatly instructed me, ‘There’s no hope you possibly can get by means of regulation college. I’d like to have you ever, however I can’t.’”

However McGlothlin discovered a again door into regulation college — altering his main to jurisprudence, “which is de facto the primary 12 months of regulation college, not less than at William & Mary,” he explains. “I marched over the subsequent day and went to his workplace, and I stated, ‘I simply have modified my main to jurisprudence.’ He stated, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Ultimately, the 2 got here to an settlement: If McGlothlin made the dean’s record each semesters, Woodbridge stated, he may enter regulation college upon commencement. “I made the grades,” remembers McGlothlin, “and the remaining was historical past.”

A short lived on line casino opened in July on the Bristol Mall, making it the primary on line casino to open in Virginia, which legalized casinos in 2020. Building on the close by everlasting on line casino is predicted to be completed in 2024. Photograph by Earl Neikirk

Delivery of a coal firm

As a younger legal professional in Grundy throughout the Sixties, McGlothlin joined forces with two of his cousins, beginning the regulation agency of Road, Road & McGlothlin, a common apply in which McGlothlin primarily dealt with litigation, each prison and civil instances. He additionally educated to turn into a pilot, and the agency bought a small aircraft to make journey simpler to courts across the commonwealth.

In 1970, at age 30, McGlothlin “lucked in” to the coal enterprise, buying a Buchanan County coal firm at public sale. “I walked throughout to the courthouse to do one thing,” he says. “Then this younger lawyer about my age was promoting a chunk of property on public sale. It was a coal firm. As I walked by, there’s 15 or 20 individuals there, [but] no one was bidding.”

The opposite lawyer requested McGlothlin to begin the bidding at $25,000, and he thought of it a second.

“It is a no-brainer,” he remembers pondering. “I had $25,000. Fifteen minutes later, I owned the coal firm.”

Now he needed to inform his regulation companions, who have been completely satisfied to leap onboard. Later, at a poker sport, McGlothlin’s father and three of his accounting shoppers — all coal mine operators — expressed curiosity in investing within the new enterprise.

“We agreed to place up $1,000 every. There have been seven of us, and we’d go to the financial institution, borrow the $25,000 from the financial institution and pay for the corporate, and $7,000 could be the working capital,” says McGlothlin, and that’s how United Coal Co. began. “I took a depart of absence for six months from the regulation agency [and] right here we’re 52 years later. I by no means went again.”

Within the early Nineteen Seventies, United acquired dozens of smaller coal firms and mines in Appalachia. Its major competitor was Richmond-based Massey Coal. However by the mid-’70s, coal was only one division of United Co., which expanded into shopping for, reselling and distributing mining tools and proudly owning and working metal mills following the $40 million buy of Birmingham Metal Co. in Alabama in 1980.

It was a growth time, though not each resolution struck gold.

In 1981, United drilled a fuel effectively in Scott County, main to an enormous hearth, “which you possibly can see blowing 400, 500 ft there,” McGlothlin says. “We employed a man to come back out of Austin, Texas, to place it out, which he did in about 5 – 6 minutes after he acquired there.”

An ensuing dialog led McGlothlin to strike a deal for United to drill 25 oil wells in Texas. “That turned out actually profitable,” says McGlothin. Finally, United purchased the 25 wells from a accomplice in Texas who was retiring, “and that’s how the oil and fuel factor was born,” McGlothlin says.

Within the Eighties, United acquired a big Canadian oil and fuel firm, vastly increasing its portfolio. Then got here sand and gravel holdings and even a gold mine in Tanzania.

“As I acquired older and older and the corporate acquired greater, I needed one thing that was large enough to make some actual distinction,” McGlothlin says. “In different phrases, I didn’t need one thing to promote 1,000,000 {dollars}’ value of product a 12 months, as a result of in the event you make 50% on it, you [only] make $500,000.”

By the Nineteen Nineties, the coal business was beginning to decline, and McGlothlin bought off a few of United’s holdings, together with the Dal-Tex mine in West Virginia, which represented about half of United’s coal enterprise.

“We determined the occasions weren’t so good within the enterprise, and [Massey] got here alongside,” so McGlothlin and his companions bought United to Massey in 1997. However in 2004, McGlothlin and a small group of buyers reacquired the corporate. “Our alternative got here alongside to purchase [back] all of these properties that Massey had,” he says.

5 years later, United divested its coal mine holdings to Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, whose mining and metal firm, Metinvest Group, purchased United Coal Co. for an undisclosed value, though information stories from that point pegged the deal at between $800 million and $1.4 billion. Metinvest nonetheless owns United Coal, which is now primarily based in Johnson Metropolis, Tennessee.

McGlothlin stays chairman and sole proprietor of the remaining enterprise, The United Co., which at present has diversified right into a hospitality and wealth administration firm, with different actions together with actual property improvement and coal, oil and fuel exploration providers. Its holdings embrace golf programs, RV parks and a stake within the Bristol on line casino.

Frances and Jim McGlothlin cut up their time between Virginia and Florida, and have turn into influential donors in schooling, well being care and the humanities. Photograph by Earl Neikirk

Roll of the cube

The Bristol on line casino got here up in the same technique to McGlothlin’s different huge offers. In 2018, Stacy purchased the shuttered Bristol Mall, which McGlothlin additionally had thought of shopping for however couldn’t consider something to place there. “He stated, ‘I’m going to place in a on line casino,’” McGlothlin says. “I stated, ‘You do know that it’s not authorized to have a on line casino?’”

However Stacy recommended that the 2 work collectively on legalizing casinos within the commonwealth, and McGlothlin known as an previous buddy, Alan Diamonstein, the late Newport Information lawyer and delegate. He briefed Stacy and McGlothlin on state Sen. Louise Lucas’ quixotic 18-year effort to legalize casinos. “There’s nearly no likelihood, 15% on the most,” McGlothlin remembers Diamonstein saying.

However after speaking to Lucas — who, like McGlothlin, needed a on line casino to assist enhance the financial system and job alternatives in her hometown, Portsmouth — McGlothlin, Stacy and a few of United Co.’s executives started formulating a plan to garner legislative help. Bristol and its surrounding localities wanted a brand new main employer and an business to interchange the coal jobs that had nearly disappeared.

“It simply made a lot sense, as a result of to begin with, [Southwest Virginia] was actually in want of one thing,” McGlothlin says. “We known as it ‘the moonshot,’ and it needed to be huge. It couldn’t simply be one other place to make use of 40 individuals [because] we have been going downhill — anyone may testify our debt was simply escalating. The political individuals have been troublesome, however as time went on, they started to see this might have a giant impact on funding in tourism.”

A political coalition — bringing collectively everybody from liberal Democrats like Lucas to conservative Republicans like former
Sen. Invoice Carrico from Marion — started to type in late 2018. Two years later, the Common Meeting handed a regulation permitting native voters in 5 economically challenged cities — Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond — to approve industrial casinos of their localities through referendum. In 2020, referendums handed in all the cities besides Richmond, the place voters rejected a on line casino in 2021. 4 casinos at the moment are underneath building or near
beginning, and there’s a legislative battle underway between Richmond and Petersburg over the chance to construct a fifth.

“It did take a variety of work, much more work than we thought,” Stacy says. “There have been so many individuals who had oppositions to something apart from what had at all times been performed.”

Lucas, specifically, has nothing however reward for McGlothlin — whose politics pattern significantly to the proper of hers. “Every little thing he does, he does with different individuals in thoughts. I simply completely fell in love with the person.”

United Co. CEO Martin Kent, who joined the corporate as its president in 2014, was an integral participant in constructing the political coalition for on line casino legalization. Previously chief of employees to Gov. Bob McDonnell, Kent considers McGlothlin an vital enterprise mentor.

“Jim may be very intuitive,” he says, “and Jim can sit down and hearken to the financials verbally and may calculate a press release in his head faster than most individuals can do in Excel. We depend on the calculator, however Jim has an innate potential. However on the finish of the day, Jim is the connection man. He’s very intuitive because it involves assembly with individuals. That’s simply his nature.”

Because the prospect of authorized casinos grew to become extra possible, McGlothlin labored to discover a company accomplice for Bristol’s resort on line casino. At first, he held discussions with Caesars Leisure Inc., however a buddy launched him to a consultant of Laborious Rock, and inside 24 hours, a deal was signed.

Greater than 25,000 individuals from 49 states visited the Bristol Laborious Rock on line casino throughout its first two months, and on line casino President Allie Evangelista has employed about 600 individuals. Finally, the on line casino — anticipated to open in its everlasting house on the Bristol Mall property in 2024 — is anticipated to make use of 1,200 to 1,500 individuals by summer season 2024.

Evangelista, a Brazilian native who has labored within the U.S. gaming enterprise for many years, moved to Bristol in January.

“I knew Laborious Rock was an organization I needed to work for,” she says, “however I needed to ensure it was the proper challenge. And so, I had a possibility to satisfy with Jim and Clyde, and we went for dinner. It was a type of emotions the place you understand it’s the proper transfer. You see their ardour and what they went by means of to get this accredited within the state, and I felt like I may be this particular person to make this dream profitable.”

Private lives

Outdoors of enterprise, Jim and Fran McGlothlin have their very own charitable basis, which makes donations to larger schooling, the humanities and well being care establishments. They’re additionally concerned with The United Firm Basis, the corporate’s philanthropic arm. Centered extra on the Bristol group, the muse runs a soup kitchen and a food-box program and offers grants to native nonprofits.

Certainly one of McGlothlin’s dearest charitable endeavors is the Mountain Mission Faculty, an institute based in 1921 in Grundy to accommodate and educate kids in want, who obtain faculty scholarships funded by The United Firm Basis.

“I actually didn’t know a lot about it until I acquired out of regulation college, and I went up there,” McGlothlin says. “Effectively, they requested me to come back up and take into consideration teaching or serving to with beginning a basketball staff. Should you go there and see these youngsters, you instantly fall in love with them. That was in ’66, I believe. I’ve had a love affair with Mountain Mission for all these lengthy years.”

In 2018, The Olde Farm golf course, a course designed by Bobby Weed and based by McGlothlin, hosted a celeb match that includes golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Participant, in addition to NFL stars Peyton Manning and Dan Marino. It raised $56.6 million for the college, the most important single-day charitable present in PGA Tour historical past. 

Fran McGlothlin, too, has turn into deeply concerned with Mountain Mission, which simply devoted a women’ residence corridor in her identify.

“I believed it was a very good factor,” she says, “however I needed to vary the route of the college. I believed that the board [was] pondering too small. Although our firm was offering the [college] scholarships, I realized it was principally native faculties. I stated, ‘I believe we should always suppose greater than this. If they will get into U.Va. or William & Mary or Stanford, let’s give them an opportunity to try this.’”

Her work with the college has been a part of her acclimation to life in Southwest Virginia, the place she felt a bit like a fish out of water at first.

A Leesburg native, Fran McGlothlin graduated from William & Mary within the Sixties. She and Jim met in 1991 at a small ceremonial dinner in Williamsburg, when he was on W&M’s board of holiday makers and he or she was the spouse of the faculty’s then-president.

“Effectively, I used to be making an attempt to be a great dinner accomplice and speaking to individuals on each side,” she says. “Once I spoke to him, I stated — and I’m instructed you’re by no means imagined to ask this query at a cocktail party, however I used to be simply looking for a hook — ‘What do you do?’ He stated, ‘A bit of this and just a little of that.’ We simply began speaking and have become mates first, after which finally acquired married.” They wed in 1996.

Jim remembers that first assembly fondly, remembering her as a “very enticing, clever woman who it was thrilling to hold on a dialog with.” As they acquired to know one another — and the high-end artwork world — the 2 hung out in Naples, Florida, the place they now dwell a lot of the 12 months in a waterfront condominium.

“Jim’s world was an entire totally different world from mine,” Fran says. “I believe in a manner, that’s how we acquired into amassing artwork, as a result of I stated to myself, ‘If I’m going to be with this man, we’ve acquired to seek out one thing in frequent that we are able to each do — as a result of I don’t know something about coal mines and I don’t play golf.”

In her wine cellar — a deal she made with Jim, during which he agreed she may spend the identical amount of cash on wine that he spends on {golfing} — Fran shows bottles of wine they served at their wedding ceremony reception, with customized labels that includes their first artwork buy, “Listening Boy,” by Robert Henri.

Finally, the McGlothlins would give the Virginia Museum of Nice Arts almost 90 items of art work value greater than $250 million — largely Nineteenth- and early Twentieth-century American work, together with works by John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Andrew Wyeth and the museum’s first Norman Rockwell portray. In 2005, the couple promised to bequeath their artwork assortment to the museum and donated $30 million to the VMFA’s 2010 enlargement, which included a wing named for the McGlothlins. In 2015, the McGlothlins donated 73 American artworks value roughly $200 million to the VMFA, and in 2022, they gave 15 extra items to the museum.

Artists from the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork painted copies of the donated works, a few of which now cling within the McGlothlins’ high-ceilinged, Italianate house on the sting of Olde Farm golf course.

In a hallway close to the kitchen, there’s a small, sepia-toned picture of Fran and Jim McGlothlin cuddling on a settee, taken by the legendary portraitist Annie Leibovitz. For her sixtieth birthday, Fran requested for the portrait by Leibovitz, who has taken iconic pictures of topics starting from Queen Elizabeth II to John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Lately, the couple travels to see their kids throughout the US, and Jim golfs repeatedly at Olde Farm and in Florida and sometimes in Scotland, however he not pilots planes, after experiencing a number of well being points.

In 2015, he was recognized with pancreatic most cancers — his docs noticed it early throughout a CAT scan and took instant motion, eradicating the tumor.

“I took chemo for six months,” McGlothlin says. “I couldn’t eat something, couldn’t drink something. That bottle of water would style like tin. I simply couldn’t get it down. I misplaced 65 kilos.”

Two months after ending chemotherapy, McGlothlin suffered a stroke whereas at a restaurant with Fran, his daughter and her husband. Fortuitously, they’d flown there in a helicopter, which was capable of ship him to a hospital in lower than 20 minutes, and McGlothlin totally recovered — sufficient to fly with Fran in 2018 to some baseball video games across the nation in a farewell to piloting.

In January, McGlothlin stepped down as United’s CEO, ceding the place to Kent, although McGlothlin stays the corporate’s chairman. They nonetheless discuss every day, however Kent says that McGlothlin needed to cross on among the day-to-day operations and duties.

The McGlothlins took their kids and grandchildren to Bermuda this previous summer season, and whereas he acknowledges his love of creating offers, McGlothlin says, “I’m extra about household in my life than I’m about enterprise. … That’s vital.”   



Bruce Thompson
Gold Key | PHR, Virginia Seashore

Phebe Novakovic
Chairman and CEO
Common Dynamics Corp., Reston

Stephen Moret
President and CEO
Virginia Financial Growth Partnership, Richmond

John R. Lawson II
Govt chairman
W.M. Jordan Co., Newport Information

Nancy Howell Agee
President and CEO
Carilion Clinic, Roanoke

John F. Reinhart
CEO and govt director
Virginia Port Authority, Norfolk

Knox Singleton
Inova Well being System, Fairfax

Christopher J. Nassetta President and CEO
Hilton Worldwide, McLean

Tonya Mallory
Well being Diagnostic Laboratory, Richmond

Philip A. Shucet
The Philip A. Shucet Co., Norfolk

Michael J. Quillen
Alpha Pure Assets Inc., Bristol

Gerald L. Gordon
President and CEO
Fairfax County Financial Growth Authority, Tysons

Shawn Boyer
Founder and CEO, Richmond

Nicholas Chabraja
Chairman and CEO
Common Dynamics Corp., Falls Church

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