Mr. George Tinsley, Sr. is a master of the triple threat position in life, basketball and business. He is CEO of PenGeo, Inc., Tinsley Group, Inc. and Tinsley Family Concessions, collectively Tampa Bay’s 3rd largest Black-owned enterprise, and one of the fastest growing independent restaurant conglomerates in the nation. He credits his roots on the basketball courts of the impoverished Smoketown neighborhood in Kentucky for teaching him life’s most valuable lesson: always be prepared to shoot, pass or dribble the ball.
Abandoned as a baby and reared in poverty by an elderly babysitter, Tinsley’s talent was as undeniable as his stardom. He was recruited on scholarship to Kentucky Wesleyan College in 1966, and as a freshman led the team to the first of 3 Division II NCAA National Championships. He quickly earned the rep of being a ‘defensive demon’. and would take the Panthers on to 2 national titles in 1968 and 1969, for which he was twice named All-American, selected as an alternate to the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team, and would soon be drafted to the old American Basketball League to play for the Oaks, Washington Capitals, Miami Floridians, Kentucky Colonels and the New York Nets.
In triple threat tradition, Tinsley was already prepared to pursue other options when his 3-year tour with the ABA ended in 1972. He had graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan on the dean’s list and was the first African-American to receive the prestigious Oak and Ivy Award for academic achievement. Tinsley transitioned his talent for team management to the corporate sector, beginning with an 8-year management career at Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation where he paved the way to his first franchise in 1984.
Within 5 years he had acquired and built 5 more franchises and in 1989 was named KFCC’s Premier Operator, the highest honor presented to franchisees. Mr. Tinsley’s holdings now restaurants, including KFCC, TGI Fridays, 6 Starbucks, 6 Pizza Huts, Jose Cuervos, Quiznos and Home Team Sports Bar and Grill. Though he doesn’t publicize his annual earnings, Mr. Tinsley confirms to the Power Broker that his franchises all perform at or above the national average (KFC reported average store sales of $1.2 million in 2009).
After 21 years of entrepreneurship, Tinsley holds as many records in business as he did in basketball. He was honored as KFCC’s Premier Operator for a second time in 1994. His TGI Friday in Tampa has won the Highest Domestic Franchise Sales award 3 times since 1999, and the Domestic Franchise of the Year award 3 years straight from 1999 to 2002. Tinsley was named Florida’s 1999 Minority Entrepreneur of the Year, was inducted to the Kentucky Wesleyan Alumni Hall of Fame in 2005, and is ranked #3 on the Power Broker Magazine’s 1st Annual list of Tampa Bay’s Biggest Black-owned companies.