Arkansas Business' 25 Wealthiest Arkansans (25th Anniversary)

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

Members of the Walton family.

In the years that followed and under Wenderoth's leadership, O.K. Industries grew and now employs more than 4,000 in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

He served two terms as president of the Arkansas Poultry Federation and two terms as chairman of the National Broiler Council (now the National Chicken Council). He was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame this year.

16. Mark Simmons Family
Bill Simmons helped found Simmons Foods Inc. in 1949, and his son, Mark, started working there in 1968. Mark, who took over in 1974 after the death of his father, turned the company into the vertically integrated poultry operation it is today.

Today, Mark's son, Todd, who joined the company in the late '80s and worked his way up the ranks, holds the future.

With $652 million in sales in its latest fiscal year, the Siloam Springs company ranks as the 12th-largest private company in Arkansas.

In the late 1990s, the company shifted its focus. Rather than investing company resources to build its own consumer brands, it made a strategic decision to concentrate on business-to-business customers.

Last year, the company bought the integrated broiler operations of Peterson Farms of Decatur.

17. Frank Fletcher
Frank Fletcher has built a diverse empire through his Frank Fletcher Cos. Ltd.

The company now encompasses Frank Fletcher Auto Group, which owns nine auto dealerships in Arkansas and Missouri; Wyndham Riverfront Hotel; Riverfront Steakhouse; Benihana restaurant; Silverwood Products; Cheyenne Home Furnishings; American National Finance; Fletcher & Bensky Fine Furs; and Factory Showcase.

Fletcher was a manufacturers' representative to Wal-Mart in the 1960s and an investor in Wal-Mart stock in the early 1970s. In the late '70s, he took Sam Walton's advice and switched to manufacturing when Walton told him that the company was going to deal directly with manufacturers.

A horse racing fan, Fletcher owns several thoroughbreds.

Last year, the company had revenue of $710 million, good enough for 10th place among the state's largest private companies.



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