Arkansas Business' 25 Living Legends (25th Anniversary)

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

Wilson's son, Robert Wilson Jr., is managing attorney at Wilson & Associates of Little Rock.

Forrest Wood
In 1968, Forrest Wood started manufacturing boats that he came to call Ranger Boats. The part-time fishing guide began building boats in an old filing station in Flippin, Ark., and soon moved to an old nightclub, in which the company completed 600 boats in 1969. The company was selling 1,200 boats by 1970.

Wood sold the company in 1987 but remained active in the fishing world. He is considered the creator of the modern bass boat and one of the pioneers of professional bass fishing. FLW Outdoors, the largest fishing tournament body in the world, uses his initials in its name.

He has been inducted into the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, International Boating Hall of Fame and many others. Wood continues to live in Flippin and oversees a cattle operation.

Albert R. Yarnell Sr.
Albert Yarnell returned from World War II and began expanding Yarnell Ice Cream Co. of Searcy. Yarnell's father bought and kept Yarnell Ice Cream afloat during the Depression, and upon his return, Albert Yarnell oversaw the company's first major plant expansion in 1951. The expansion allowed the company to sell throughout central and south Arkansas.

Albert became president in 1974 after his father's death. The company has developed health-conscious ice cream offerings under Yarnell's leadership, and he currently serves as chairman emeritus while his son, Rogers, serves as chairman and CEO.

Robert A. Young III
Robert Young worked 41 years for the company his father founded, Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith. Young became president of the trucking company in 1973 and concurrently held the position of chief operating officer from 1973-88. He took over as CEO in 1988 and retired as CEO in 2005.

The company posted an operating loss only four years during Young's tenure as either president or CEO, in 1979, 1982, 1995 and 1996, according to its Web site. In 1977, the company posted revenue of $102.5 million, and by 2005 revenue had grown to $1.7 billion.

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