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John W. Teets, businessman, dies

PHOENIX -- John W. Teets, a self-made businessman who served as chief executive for the Phoenix-based Dial and Greyhound corporations in the 1980s and 1990s, has died. He was 77.

Teets died Friday night at his Paradise Valley home of complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to family friend Steve Roman.

"He's a giant, in my mind," said Joe Fassler, who worked with him from 1976 until Teets' retirement in 1997. "He defined leadership. He was a no-nonsense guy and a very, very energetic manager. I was in awe of him."

Teets, who grew up in Chicago and was a partner in a successful suburban entertainment complex, joined the Greyhound Corp. in 1963 to help develop the restaurants at the company's subsidiary operating at the New York World's Fair.

He became president of two food service subsidiaries in 1965 at age 32, the youngest subsidiary chief operation officer in Greyhound's history. Teets went on to become president and chief executive of the Greyhound Food Management and group vice president of food service for the corporation in 1975.

Teets was elected vice chairman of the Greyhound Corp. and to the board of directors in 1980. He was named chairman and chief executive of Armor & Company, then a Greyhound subsidiary, and became Greyhound's chief executive in October 1981.

Over the next decade, Teets restructured Greyhound from a giant conglomerate into a streamlined company. He sold the Armor meatpacking company in 1983 to ConAgra for $2 billion, but retained the consumer products business, which became known as the Dial Consumer Products Group.

Fassler said Teets dabbled in real estate after retirement and maintained a small office at the Viad building in midtown Phoenix. Teets helped design the distinctive building, according to Fassler.

Teets also invested money in the NBA's Phoenix Suns in 1987 when the team was up for sale and on the verge of relocating after a drug scandal involving several players.

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