Arkansas Business' 25 for the Future (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

Cliff Beckham, President and CEO of USA Truck, Inc. of Van Buren

12. Stephen I. LaFrance Jr.
At 13, Stephen LeFrance began his career in the warehouse of USA Drug, the Pine Bluff company founded by his father. LaFrance now holds the title of executive vice president and has worked on several big deals during his career.

In 1997 he assisted in the acquisition and integration into USA Drug of 87-store Super D Drugs Inc. He and his brother, Jason, also bought a five-store Missouri-based chain and operate the stores under the USA Drug name. The 2003-04 acquisition of May's Drug Stores Inc. and Med-X, with 61 stores between them, also bore his fingerprints.

13. Jeff Long
Perhaps not even the governor undergoes the scrutiny Jeff Long receives as director of athletics at the University of Arkansas. Hog-crazed Arkansans can get testy when a team underperforms, and Long is the man who has to fade the heat.

Long, who came from the University of Pittsburgh, took on the job of reshaping the athletic department after decades of rule under the legendary Frank Broyles. Already some of the old guard has been pushed aside. If the current coaches win, expect Long to have a long tenure. A few losing seasons – especially in football – and he'll be gone.

14. Dustin McDaniel
The Arkansas Attorney General's office tends to produce politicians that go on to larger roles. Former President Bill Clinton, Gov. Mike Beebe and U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor all paid their dues in the post. Dustin McDaniel began his first term in the attorney general's office in 2007 and has progressed so far without a major hitch.

McDaniel spent time in the Arkansas House of Representatives before running for the statewide office. He has even helped negotiate an animal cruelty bill and banished payday lenders from the state since taking the job.

Gov. Beebe appears to hold a lock on a second term, but expect McDaniel to jockey for the position in 2014.

15. Greg Penner
He married into Wal-Mart's ruling family and The Wall Street Journal speculated that he's being groomed to replace his father-in-law, S. Robson Walton, as the company's chairman.

Penner has some chops of his own. The Stanford University grad has been a general partner at Madrone Capital Partners, a California investment management company, since 2005. He also served as senior vice president and chief financial officer for Wal-Mart's Japan operations.

16. Mark Pryor
He's the junior senator from Arkansas and fresh off a successful re-election campaign. In fact, no Democrat challenged him in the 2008 primary and no Republican stepped up for the general election.

Pryor has managed to land seats on the Appropriations, Commerce and Small Business & Entrepreneurship committees. His father, David, served three terms in the Senate, and Mark Pryor shows every intention of matching or surpassing that feat.

17. Blake Rutherford
In 2006, Blake Rutherford joined Stone Ward, a Little Rock advertising and public relations firm, as director of public communications. Rutherford oversees much of the company's public relations efforts and has worked with many national accounts.



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