45. Mississippi : Leslie Lampton
Leslie Lampton is the chairman of Jackson, Mississippi-based Ergon, the refining and chemicals conglomerate he founded in 1954 as a petroleum retailer with just two employees.
The firm produces and transports crude and engages in oil and gas exploration. It also manufactures asphalts products, like the kind covering the country’s roads. A real estate unit exists, too, which develops and manages commercial and residential properties in Alabama and Mississippi. Across its many parts, Ergon employs more than 2,300 people and brings in nearly $4 billion in annual revenues. The intensely private Lampton graduated from Ole Miss in 1948 and has donated funds to the renovate the university’s engineering school through Ergon.