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.

24 .Gus Vratsinas
Gus Vratsinas, son of a Greek immigrant, worked his way from project manager to president of Kelley-Nelson Construction Co. Then, in 1986, he started his own company, Vratsinas Construction Co. of Little Rock. He is now chairman of Arkansas' largest construction company, which reported 2007 revenue of $710 million.

Vratsinas, a trained civil engineer, earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he was named to the Engineering Hall of Fame.

25. Sam Walton
After years of running stores for other people, Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart in 1962 and laid the groundwork for what has become the world's dominant retail chain, usually – in terms of revenue – the world's largest company and the world's largest corporate employer.

Walton recognized that a niche existed for discount retailers, and he alone saw the potential of bringing big retail to small towns. By reducing prices and accepting lower margins, retailers could increase sales volume and profit. Along the way, Walton and his organization either invented or adopted methods for reducing overhead or increasing revenue. Wal-Mart was among the first to use UPC bar codes to track inventory, and in 1983, the company set up a private satellite system for tracking trucks, processing credit card transactions and transmitting sales information.

Wal-Mart has also used its market clout to force waste out the manufacturing process of its suppliers, a two-edged sword that has been called "The Wal-Mart Effect."

(Click here to see all the stories in our anniversary edition. Or click here to flip through each page of the edition in this special free electronic version.) 



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