UA Business Hall of Fame 2014: James H. Faulkner

by UA Business Hall of Fame  on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 12:00 am  

Not many men will say getting fired from a job was key to a business career, but that’s exactly what Jim Faulkner will tell you.

After working for a year with a Little Rock television station, the station manager told Faulkner, “I know you wanted to be a television newsman, but with that crewcut, you look too young for anyone to believe you. I’m going to have to let you go.”

That came as a shock. Faulkner had worked toward being a communicator for years. But from that setback he would go on to found the successful advertising and publishing businesses Faulkner & Associates, Falcon Productions, Falcon Publications and Jimco, Inc.

Faulkner was born in Malvern in 1932. His father was a merchant and his mother taught piano. He grew up with two younger brothers, Jerry and Bobby.

At 11, Faulkner had a paper route for the Arkansas Democrat, then for the Malvern Daily Record. At 14, he talked the Daily Record publisher into letting him write sports. While Faulkner was at the University of Arkansas, the Democrat hired him as a stringer to send daily reports on the Razorbacks. He majored in journalism, wrote for the university paper the Traveler, played clarinet in the school band and lettered on the tennis team.

His sophomore year, Faulkner was spotter for football broadcasts. When Faulkner was a senior, athletic director John Barnhill hired him to work in the sports publicity department. He graduated in 1954 and spent a year working for radio station KDAS before entering the United States Air Force. After that, Faulkner attended Northwestern University to study television journalism. He was offered a scholarship to continue, but with his wife and child to support, Faulkner went to work – at the ill-fated television job.

Faulkner gave up television news and looked to advertising. There were no agencies in Pine Bluff, so he opened his one-man firm there on Sept. 3, 1957.

His first client was Charles Gordon, president of Southern Federal Savings and Loan, an account Faulkner had for the next 25 years. Over the next three years, the agency added steel building manufacturer Varco, archery equipment manufacturer Ben Pearson, transformer manufacturer Central Maloney and Simmons First National, the largest bank in southeast Arkansas.

Faulkner eventually hired 10 employees and discovered that Worthen Bank, the state’s largest, was considering an agency change. The Faulkner agency, which had a reputation for unique television spots, showed the Worthen executives samples and agreed to open an office in Little Rock. The account came Faulkner’s way.

Premiums were a hot item in banking, so the Faulkner group set up a separate company – Jimco, Inc. – to produce them. The first item was a talking Razorback doll called Little Soo. At the pull of a string, Little Soo would say “Woo Pig Sooie,” “Beat Texas” and several other cheers. Worthen asked over 20 other banks to join them in the program. The banks sold 35,000 dolls and received national publicity. That led to doll programs for banks in Oklahoma and Nebraska. In all, 60,000 dolls were sold in the three states.

For five years in the 1970s, the agency represented the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, building a campaign around hunting and fishing in Arkansas and highlighting the state’s advantages with slogans such as “Aim for a More Strategic Location. Set Your Site on Arkansas.” The series won awards at both state and district levels.

The soybean division of the Arkansas Rice Growers had the agency provide a label and marketing for a new shortening product, Chef-way. That program won first place in a district contest in 1971. The American Soybean Association asked Jim to fly to Italy to consult with a company planning to produce a shortening product using American soybeans.



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