Who is Joe Orgill III? Abducted teacher Eliza Fletcher's late grandfather ran $3.2B private hardware firm
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: Eliza Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother from Memphis and an heiress to the billion-dollar fortune of her family’s hardware business, was abducted on Friday, September 2, while out for a morning jog. The pre-kindergarten teacher at St Mary's Episcopal School comes from a Tennessee family with a business that was established by her grandfather.
Eliza was a deeply committed runner and had previously qualified for the Boston Marathon. She was jogging in the morning near the University of Memphis at around 4.20 am when she was reportedly forced inside a dark SUV by an abductor who was later identified as the 38-year-old Cleotha Abston. He was arrested and charged with "especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence" following Fletcher's mysterious kidnapping on Friday, September 2. As the suspense around her kidnapping grows, people are getting more interested in the fortune that she holds by being a part of the Orgill empire. Fletcher's grandfather, the late Joseph "Joe" Orgill III, ran Orgill Inc., a billion-dollar hardware-supply company that currently employs more than 5,500 people.
Orgill Inc. states that it "is the world's largest independent hardlines distributor with annual sales of $3 billion. The privately owned company was founded in 1847 and is headquartered in Collierville, TN." The company has its reach spread out well and the website states, "Orgill serves more than 11,000 retail hardware stores, home centers, pro lumber dealers, and farm stores throughout the United States and Canada, and over 50 countries around the world." Moreover, even Forbes listed Orgill Inc as the 143rd largest private company in the country in 2021, raking in $3.2 billion in revenue that year.
Eliza Fletcher - An heiress to the billion-dollar fortune
Eliza married Richard James Fletcher III in 2014 and the wedding was too good to be true for many people. Memphis magazine talked to some local wedding planners and they agreed that it was the most lavish wedding that they had seen "without hesitation". Wedding pros Russell Whitehead and Ruthie Bowlin told the magazine, "There has been no other wedding like this in Memphis." Eliza is a mom to two young boys.
According to the Commercial Appeal newspaper, Orgill supported a wide range of charitable causes and died at the age of 80. The people who knew him described him as a friendly and good-humored man, who was born into a privileged family. The newspaper states that the company was set up by the missing Memphis teacher's ancestors in 1847. Under Eliza's grandfather's guidance, the business bloomed and was able to capitalize on the ever-growing industry, turning it into a behemoth.
Her family has announced a reward of $50,000 to help find her while issuing a statement that read, "We look forward to Eliza’s safe return and hope that this award will help police capture those who committed this crime." According to a story by Memphis Flyer, Cleotha 'Pookie' Abston was convicted of abducting a Memphis lawyer, Kemper Durant, at gunpoint and placing him in the trunk of his car before forcing the victim to withdraw money from ATMs back in 2001. The Memphis Police Department later tweeted, "The vehicle of interest has been located and a male who was occupying the vehicle has been detained. Eliza Fletcher has not been located."