R.G. Pettis

by Terry Watson | September 11th, 2013
R.G. Pettis (Photos by Mykel Media Company)

R.G. Pettis (Photos by Mykel Media Company)

Nestled away in a quiet retail store in Charlotte, Rufus “R.G.” Pettis enjoys providing Greek apparel enthusiasts with his collection of accessories he has spent the last 30 years compiling. Though Distinctive Specialties have been in existence for nearly 30 years, Pettis has been the sole owner since 1997 after purchasing it from its group of previous owners. There you can find mugs, jackets, shirts, pictures, and more, all decorated with the letters and colors of many of Greek organizations. However, if you have time to talk and listen, Pettis has a lot more to share with anyone interested.

Pettis is and always has been a “busy body”. As a young boy he dug ditches and worked at the fish yard. He doesn’t claim to be self-made, but recognizes that there have been people who have helped him along the way. He has enjoyed a career in teaching and education that has spanned 41 years. He is a native of Fort Mill, SC, but has lived in Charlotte all of his life. He has formed several businesses, enjoyed being married to his late wife Willie, and does not hesitate to boast on his two sons who have accomplished a great deal as a physicians and information technology professionals. His service to God comes as he serves a deacon at First Fellowship Church Ministries. He also serves his community and has given the largest financial donation to Benedict College for endowed scholarships in the history of the school.

Pettis’ journey began when he graduated from Benedict College in Columbia, SC with a bachelor’s degree in Math Education. He was able to do this ― all while working as many at three jobs at one time. He later went own to teach at in a public school setting before returning to college at Atlanta University to obtain his masters degree in Mathematical Analysis while on a National Science Foundation Fellowship. He did additional work Oberland College in Oberland Ohio, Kansas State University in Manhattan Kansas, taught for two years at Winston Salem State University in Winston Salem, NC before moving back to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte.

After finishing up at JCSU, Pettis was fortunate to receive an all expense paid Ford Foundation Grant to attend Oklahoma State University and received his doctorate degree in Math Education. He then returned to Benedict College and served as Chairman of the Math Department for three years, and later to returned to JCSU and served as Chairman of the Math Department and director of Summer School for 12 years. He retired from JCSU in 2001.

In 1984, he formed the R.G. Pettis Investment Company and acquired 43 rental units. In 1988 he began to offer real estate management plans to his tenants and afforded them a opportunity to own their own home. In 1998, he formed DNC Investment Company and built the Gold Hill Pavillion Plaza which accommodates 33 retail and office units. One of those units houses his business, Distinctive Specialties. In September of 2012, he enjoyed the benefits of having a 95% occupancy for the very first time at his plaza. In 2000, he established RW Enterprises to handle all of the rental spaces at Gold Hill.

Just by looking at Pettis, it is very hard to see all of the great things that he has done through his life. “I shop out of a newspaper and clip coupons. I have never lived on my level. I have always lived financially below two or three levels of where ‘m actually at,” he says. He doesn’t drive a fancy car or have a fancy wardrobe. Just as he has others managing his other businesses, he could easily get someone to manage operations at Distinctive Specialties. Yet, he enjoys the benefits and perks of coming in contact with customers. He says it all comes down to how someone handles their finances. Pettis also teaches financial workshops at churches who allow him to.

The best advice Pettis says he could to anyone is to reduce your debt. He says pay your debts off and try not to owe anyone. He says that he doesn’t sleep much because there is too much to be done. “If you’re involved in anything and you don’t feel that it’s right for you, then get out of it,” he says.

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