Rent-To-Town Pioneer and Gas Businessman, Landowner to be Inducted Into Kansas Business Hall of Fame

May 19, 2017

A Wichita businessman who helped pioneer the rent-to-own industry and a gasoline company owner who at one time was the largest landowner in Kansas will be inducted next month into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame at Emporia State University.

Tom Devlin of Devlin Enterprises and the late A.B. “Bob” Hudson will be recognized at the KBHF induction ceremony during the 45th annual Team Kansas Awards Banquet on Tuesday, June 6, at Emporia State University. 

Along with the KBHF induction during the Team Kansas Annual Awards Banquet, the Team Kansas Silver Stirrup Award, Kansas Business Hall of Fame Awards, Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award and Governor’s Award of Excellence are presented. Reservations are being accepted through May 25. Tickets cost $60 per person or $480 for an eight-person table. Contact Mary Perez at (785) 296-4225 or  

The ceremony marks the 29th year of inductions into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame, which is located at Emporia State University. Business leaders selected for the KBHF are widely known for their contributions to Kansas, and are recognized as role models. The KBHF recognizes historical contributors and present-day leaders who have made private enterprise work in Kansas and throughout the country.

web-Bob-HudsonHudson worked with his brothers in Hudson Oil Co., a business that expanded from hauling gasoline and oil to running gas stations. The company was sold to Koch Oil, after which Hudson created his own businesses — Highway Oil, Workingman’s Friend and Fairway Oil — that operated gas stations across much of the United States.

Hudson owned a ranch near Topeka that many people remember from seeing camels on it. Throughout his life, Hudson owned and traded thousands of acres of ranch land and focused on raising cattle. He worked to clear that land and to return it to the beautiful grasslands with running water and springs. At one time, he was the single largest landowner in Kansas, as well as the largest independent cattleman in Kansas and Texas for many years.

web-Tom-DevlinDevlin co-founded Rent-A Center and founded the Flint Hills National Golf Club, ranked the 49th best golf course in the country. He sold Rent-A-Center to Thorn EMI in 1987 for $584 million. He also runs Devlin Enterprises, a private investment company that has several real estate investments including Flint Hills National Residences.

Devlin has been an active hunter and fisherman for most of his life. He is a member of Flint Oak from the early days and was recognized by Ray Walton as one of the founding members. Devlin is one of the founders of The Center for Entrepreneurship at Wichita State University, and Devlin Hall was “the first building in the world dedicated to entrepreneurship”. He is also involved in many other philanthropic opportunities around the country including Youth Entrepreneurs.

Devlin and his wife, Myra, still live in the Wichita area.

A longer biography for A.B. “Bob” Hudson is online at

A longer biography for Tom Devlin is online at





Achievement - Emporia State University

Check out our students' achievements and accomplishments on Emporia State's site