Despite Troubles, Family Carries On Peterson Legacy

by Serenah McKay  on Monday, Jun. 25, 2012 12:00 am  

Whatever needed to be done to make his vision a reality, Peterson "was going to get it done one way or another," said Haynes, who had helped Vic Evans, Debra Evans' former husband and ANB Financial's board chairman, and ANB CEO Dan Dykema develop Bentonville's Commerce Center in the late 1990s.

When people willing to work at Peterson's chicken plants in the 1940s and 1950s were scarce, Haynes said, Peterson got approval from the tribal lands of eastern Oklahoma to send a fleet of buses there to take Native American workers to and from the plant each day.

And as the demand for Peterson Male chicks grew worldwide, Peterson built an airport with a 3,863-foot runway on the shore of Crystal Lake to get the days-old chicks to market.

"He started off with a plane that would seat maybe 10 to 12 people and would take off with nothing but 1,000 chicks in the plane with the pilot," Haynes said.

"I just thought that was amazing, just absolutely amazing, [Peterson's ability] to figure out how to do something and then go do it."
Banking on Development  

ANB, originally known as Arkansas National Bank, was formed after First Bank of Bentonville was purchased in 1993 by Worthen Banking Corp. First Bank officers Debra Jackson, Dan Dykema and Harry Brown left to form the new bank that evolved into ANB Financial.

As northwest Arkansas' population and economy boomed, the bank prospered. By the end of 2005, it had assets of more than $966 million.

By early 2007, ANB was ranked the fifth-largest bank charter in the state. But even as it was acquiring loan production services and expanding into other states, trouble was brewing.

ANB finished 2007 with a loss of $120.4 million. The value of its nonperforming and past-due loans - mostly related to construction and land development - grew 545 percent in the year's final quarter. In addition, about 85 percent of its year-end deposits were "brokered," or purchased from other banks to fund its loan growth.

Already under sanctions from federal regulators, the death blow came May 9, 2008, when the FDIC shut it down.

The owners of Peterson Farms were the bank's largest shareholders, collectively owning nearly 30 percent. Vic Evans owned 14.47 percent; Debra Evans owned 14.09 percent; and Blake Evans owned about 1.06 percent.

Vic and Blake Evans were also bank directors.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.