Tom Garrison, Who Led American Freightways, Dies at 57

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 1:51 pm   2 min read

Thomas R. "Tom" Garrison, the former president and CEO of American Freightways Inc. of Harrison before its sale in 2001 to FedEx Corp., died Sunday. He was 57.

The funeral for Garrison, whose father, the late Sheridan Garrison, founded American Freightways, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the First Presbyterian Church in Harrison.

Tom Garrison joined American Freightways in 1982 as treasurer. He became a board member in 1985 and led various operations throughout the company during his time there. He was promoted to president in June 1998 and assumed the additional position of CEO in June 1999.

American Freightways sold to FedEx Corp. of Memphis on Feb. 9, 2001, for about $1.2 billion, an estimated 61 percent premium over the company's stock value at the time. Garrison remained with the company, which had been renamed FedEx Freight East, until he retired on Nov. 30, 2002.

His retirement was brief. Tom founded Garrison Financial Advisors Inc., a financial advisory firm that purchased Rebecca Garner's Garner Asset Management Co. of Fayetteville for an undisclosed sum in 2005. 

"About my first three months off, I sat around and watched the 'Beverly Hillbillies,'" Garrison joked in an interview with the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal in 2005. "I didn't hardly do a thing and really enjoyed it for a while. But it got old after a couple of months."

The firm continuing growing, purchasing Tahoe Advisors LLC of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, that same year. Garner left the firm in 2007. By the time Garrison sold the company to a trio of investment principals early last year, the company was managing more than $300 million in assets and had about 300 clients in 20 states.

Garrison was active in northwest Arkansas real estate and helped start Pinnacle Bancshares Inc. of Rogers. And he helped create the Garrison Financial Institute at the University of Arkansas' Sam M. Walton College of Business.

"Through his service on several charitable boards and through his family foundation, Tom touched numerous lives in areas such as education opportunities through scholarships, feeding the hungry, giving shelter to families in difficult situations and generally caring for others," his obituary said. "Tom loved an underdog. He made friends everywhere he went, and was loved deeply by his family."



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