Arkansas Business Hall of Fame 2013: Frank Fletcher Jr.

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 12:00 am  

Frank Fletcher Jr.

Fletcher expanded manufacturing into Taiwan and then mainland China and grew this business to $100 million-plus in annual sales before selling the company in December 2010.

But this was not Fletcher’s only enterprise over this time period. He also had started Wyndham Riverfront Hotel, Benihana’s Japanese Steakhouse, Riverfront Steakhouse, The Fletcher Realty Company, Fletcher Furs and 13 car dealerships including Dodge Chrysler Jeep in five cities, Honda in two cities, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Ford, Kia in two cities, Nissan and Toyota. Now, Fletcher Companies ranks in the top 100 car dealers in the United States.

Fletcher is often asked why he has interests in so many varied businesses and industries. His explanation goes way back to his days dealing with Walmart. “Why so much diversity?” he says. “Mr. Walton taught me to never have all your marbles in one bag.”

Starting and running so many diverse businesses has resulted in a variety of awards and recognitions over Fletcher’s business career. He was named Walmart’s “Vendor of the Year” three times and was given the Promise of Hope Endowment Award in 1996. The Walton College honored him as entrepreneur of the year in 2000, and his restaurant was named Benihana Franchise of the Year (Worldwide) for 2003.

He is known throughout the business community as being a founder of the Students Acquiring Knowledge through Experience (S.A.K.E.) program at the Walton College, which gives college students real-life, hands-on exposure to business applications and issues to go along with what they are learning in their classes. He has given countless hours of his time to speak to classes and student groups at the Walton College and the University of Arkansas, with leaders of S.A.K.E. lauding him as “our motivational leader and our practical guide.”

Fletcher also organized and started the “Stuff The Truck” charity, is a major contributor to Easter Seals and the Make-A-Wish Foundation and has contributed millions of dollars for the construction of churches in the state. He has given more than $100,000 to Toys for Tots in recent years. He also was one of the major contributors to the construction of a new Kappa Sigma fraternity house on the University of Arkansas campus. Fletcher is a major contributor to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Arkansas Foundation at his alma mater.

Fletcher has been honored many times for his civic and charitable work. Those honors include the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office Citizens Achievement Award for 2000, American Red Cross awards, the Pulaski County Humane Society Citizen of Hope Award and many others.

He also is an active thoroughbred horse owner and breeder with Rocket Horse Racing Corp., which annually enters horses at top tracks such as Oaklawn Park, Churchill Downs, Remington Park, Arlington Park and others. He has placed third in the Arkansas Derby and in 2010 had Rocket Twentyone in the Breeder’s Cup.

 

 

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