A look back at Year One

Brian Brown, ReporterThe year was 1980. American athletes missed the summer Olympics in the Soviet Union. The Iran hostage crisis was regularly featured in the nightly news – on three network channels – and classics such as “Caddyshack” and “The Empire Strikes Back” were on the big screen.

In the Queen City, a new business publication, Top’s Executive Journal, made its print debut on July 22. Before taking on the Springfield Business Journal moniker, Top’s was covering and compiling the local news, business licenses and building permits of the day.

What were the big headlines in Year One? Which new ventures launched? Who was a new City Utilities customer (yeah, that was a thing)? Here’s a sampling of headlines:

“Chamber opens new ‘front door”

July 22, 1980—The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce opens a $334,000 headquarters at 320 N. Jefferson Ave. – now home to United Way of the Ozarks.


The first issue from July 22, 1980

“University economic impact over $147 million”

Aug. 5, 1980—Annual direct spending by Southwest Missouri State University students was $67 million and $22 million by faculty.

“Ozark Airlines reports record loss”

Aug. 19, 1980—The St. Louis-based carrier serving Springfield reports a $1.4 million quarterly loss, citing a mechanic’s strike and a depressed economy.

“SMSU now recognized as state’s second largest”

“Corporate Square gives local economy a boost”

Sept. 2, 1980—American National Property and Casualty Co. is among the tenants moving in at Glenstone Avenue on Sunshine Street.

“Attractions executive answers Fun City objections”

Sept. 30, 1980—Ozark Fun City Inc. plans a $10 million theme park near Kearney Street and Glenstone, but not all neighbors are pleased.

“Frisco reports record third quarter earnings,” Oct. 28, 1980

“TV advertising alternative emerges”

Nov. 25, 1980—With the building of Telecable Co., 1533 S. Enterprise Ave., local businesses have new marketing options.

“Burrell to construct new facility”

Nov. 25, 1980—On 83 acres a half-mile south of Battlefield Road between National and Fremont avenues, Burrell plants a $2.5 million initial core facility.

“Zenith increases color TV prices,” Dec. 16, 1980

“Boatmen’s Union Sunshine branch opening set for March 1,” Jan. 8, 1981

New Business

SBJ wasn’t the only local company to establish roots 35 years ago. Other longstanding businesses that launched in 1980, according to new business licenses published:

  • Reliable Chevrolet, 3655 S. Campbell Ave., motor vehicle rental
  • Lucy’s Chinese Food, 3457-A S. Campbell Ave., restaurant
  • Trotter’s BBQ, 631 N. Glenstone Ave., restaurant
  • Pickwick Place, 614 S. Pickwick Ave., day care
  • Kmart Apparel Fashions, 1930 E. Kearney, retail merchant
  • Schultz & Dooley’s, 2609 N. Kansas, restaurant
  • Rick’s Automotive, 2115 A. S. Campbell Ave., used auto detailer

Building permits that year tell their own stories:

  • C. William Syler received a permit to construct a $2.5 million nursing home at 1100 E. Montclair St., the current home of Mercy Villa.
  • Bell Building Systems was issued a permit for work on a $758,000 foundation at 4545 W. Jean St.
  • A $454,000 addition to the Dayco plant, 2601 W. Battlefield Road, was approved for applicant Warren & Gooden.
  • Jack D. Ball received the go-ahead from the city on a $331,000 soap plant at 1339 N. Cedarbrook Ave.
  • Ozark Roofing was cleared to re-roof the expansive French’s facility, 4455 E. Mustard Way; estimated cost: $460,000.
I was surprised to see several ads from local media such as this KY3 number in the early editions.

I was surprised to see several ads from local media such as this KY3 number in the early editions.

From sections Tri-Lakes News and Views, to Agricultural Forum and Money Market Rates, the paper has revised its coverage throughout the years. These days, O’Reilly Automotive Inc. President and CEO Greg Henslee is likely to be seen on the front pages for moves made by the company with well over 4,000 stores nationwide. In the first issue of Top’s, one Gregory L. Henslee was the first new customer listed in the City Utilities Report. He had moved from apartments on South Glenstone to a residence on East Lindberg Street.

This is an idea that hasn't stood the test of time.

This is an idea that hasn’t stood the test of time.

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