Arkansas Business' 25 Entrepreneurs & Innovators (25th Anniversary)

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

John A. McFarland, CEO of Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith.

In 1994, the year after he graduated from Vanderbilt Law School, Cauley read a Forbes profile of Bell Lerach, a premier practitioner of class-action securities law. Eleven years later, and still only 37, Cauley was among the National Law Journal's top 40 lawyers under age 40 for 2005.

Cauley diversified his courtroom spoils by investing in real estate and banking.

7. John A. Cooper Sr.
It all began with Cherokee Village.

John A. Cooper formed Cherokee Village Development Co. in 1954 with the intent of creating a planned community. The community proved successful with retirees, and in 1971, Cooper Communities Inc. was created to build similar communities. Arkansas now boasts three such: Cherokee Village, Bella Vista Village and Hot Springs Village.

Cooper was president and chairman until 1968, when his son, John A. Cooper Jr., took over. Cooper remained active in the company until 1998, and helped build it into an entity that boasted of $139.5 million in 2007 revenue.

Jack and Witt Stephens, of Little Rock's Stephens Inc., established the John A. Cooper Sr. Chair of Diplomatic History at the University of Arkansas in his honor.

8. Dennis C. Cossey
"We tell investors that this is no overnight, get-rich-quick investment," Dennis C. Cossey, CEO and chairman of ThermoEnergy Corp., said years ago.

Call him a dreamer, or perhaps a fool, but after more than 20 years of running a company that has never made a profit, it just may be his dream is about to come true.

The wastewater technology company, which has managed to live off various grants and private equity investments for 21 years, recently inked a deal to use ThermoEnergy's proprietary Ammonia Recovery Process technology at a New York City water pollution control plant.

Cossey helped start Innotek Corp. in Little Rock in 1988 and changed its name to ThermoEnergy Corp. in 1990.

9. George Gleason
George Gleason took over the Bank of Ozark in 1979 after working as a securities lawyer at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock.

Gleason, just 24, bought a controlling interest in the bank, which had 28 employees and $28 million in total assets. He implemented a strategy of aggressive branching, renamed his baby Bank of the Ozarks and took it public in 1997. Today Bank of the Ozarks has 74 branches in four states and assets of $3.3 billion, making it second only to Arvest among Arkansas-chartered banks. It is routinely recognized as one of the most efficient banks in the country.



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