The Whispers Blog

Arkansas' breaking business news blog, with news and commentary from the Arkansas Business staff.
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ArcBest Moves Up 38 Spots in Fortune 1000

ArcBest Corp. of Fort Smith, formerly known as Arkansas Best Corp. and parent company to ABF Freight and other related businesses, has moved up in the Fortune 1000.

The firm announced Wednesday that it had moved up 38 spots to No. 889. Last year, the company was 927 on the list, which rankls the nation's companies by gross revenue.

In addition to its largest subsidiary ABF Freight, one of the nation's leading less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, ArcBest is the parent company of ABF Logistics, Panther Premium Logistics, FleetNet America and ArcBest Technologies.

ArcBest is considering moving ABF Freight from North Little Rock to Memphis.

In May, ArcBest announced plans for a new $30 million headquarters in Fort Smith

Chuck Barrett Steps Down as Hogs Baseball Broadcaster, Becomes IMG Employee

Chuck Barrett

The University of Arkansas announced Monday that Chuck Barrett will no longer be the voice of the Razorbacks baseball broadcast, and will also become an employee of IMG College while continuing his other duties with the Razorback Sports Network.

Barrett, who has served as the voice of the Razorbacks for football, men's basketball and baseball since 2010, began as the baseball play-by-play announcer in 1992, the same year Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference.

"And while I have truly enjoyed each and every of the past 23 seasons, I decided it was time for me to step away from the baseball broadcasts," Barrett said in a news release. "I sincerely appreciate the University of Arkansas and IMG working together to create a new role that will allow me to continue my affiliation with the Razorbacks as the play-by-play broadcaster for football and men's basketball."

IMG is the university's multi-media rights partner and a national sports marketing company. It represents several colleges and universities across the country, in addition to several sports conferences, including the SEC.

The Clarksville native has been involved in Razorback football broadcasts for 20 years, and has been the play-by-play broadcaster since 2007. He became the play-by-play broadcaster for men's basketball in 2010. He will continue in those roles, in addition to his roles as host of "The Bret Bielema Show," "Full Court Press with Mike Anderson" and other Razorback Sports Network programming.

Barrett has served as the athletics department's director of broadcasting since 2007. He's been named the Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year three times. In his time with Razorbacks baseball, Barrett called more than 1,250 games.

IMG College, in consultation with the university, will conduct a national search for Barrett's replacement.

CEO: Wal-Mart Taught Me How To Be A Leader, Manager

The co-founder and CEO of SmartStar, a mobile application that teaches children life skills, says everything she knows about herself as a leader and manager was learned during a summer internship at Wal-Mart. 

Josilyn Tan spent last summer working as a field management intern at one of the Bentonville retailer's stores in Sahuarita, Arizona. Tan recently shared what she learned from that summer in a post on LinkedIn that has now been picked up by Quartz.

The internship did not start as well as expected. Tan said it was the most difficult work experience she had encountered. 

Tan also mentioned the guidance she received from the Arizona Wal-Mart's store manager, which she called "the most seasoned store manager in the market" with 7-8 years of experience.

"Given all the bad press Wal-Mart gets about its workers, let me tell you why they are still the world's largest retailer: it is because they are still doing something right," Tan said in her post.

In the end, Tan says she found out retail was not for me, but she greatly enjoyed her time at Wal-Mart.

"Wal-Mart didn't breed another store manager, but it is still an instrumental part to my story. When I become a millionaire, I will always remember that summer with Wal-Mart, and where I was then. I will laugh, but I will also be grateful, and I will always tell the story of how Wal-Mart has shaped me into the strong person that I am today."

To read her entire blog, click here.

Video: Both Sides Claim Harassment in Wet-Dry Signature Drive

Arkansas Business' Lee Hogan writes this week about all the money behind groups on both sides of the wet-dry initiatives in Arkansas. He also posted word late yesterday about an ethics complaint filed by David Couch, the Little Rock attorney who's leading an effort to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would legalize alcohol sales in all Arkansas counties.

Couch's complaint alleges that a local-option ballot question committee called They Win, You Lose, which opposes Couch's efforts, had hired "blockers" to block petitioners from gathering the signatures they need to get the proposed amendment on the ballot.

They Win, You Lose is also part of another bit of back-and-forth over the wet-dry question in Faulkner County. In the video above, our news partners at THV 11 report on accusations of harassment between people involved in They Win, You Lose and the group Our Community, Our Dollars, which is also trying to get a vote on whether to make the county wet.

From THV 11's report:

"Unfortunately we've had some opposition that has really tried to harass the people who have tried and sign the petition and that's disappointing," [Natalie Ghidotti, an Our Community, Our Dollars spokeswoman, said].

On the other side of the fence there is the group They Win You Lose, which is protesting the petitions.

"Tough cookies. I'd say that's a pretty good description of them," said group spokeswoman Mary Dillard.

Feelings are running high over the wet-dry question, particularly Faulkner County. Meanwhile, the groups that want to put it for a vote have until July 7 to collect the signatures they need.

Report: Fernando Madeira Named CEO

Fernando Madeira, president and CEO of Latin America at Wal-Mart e-commerce, has been named chief executive officer of

That's according to a report from Bloomberg that also says current head of, Joel Anderson, is leaving the company June 20 to become president of Five Below Inc. (NASDAQ: FIVE).

Madeira, who has been based in Sao Paulo, has fueled a sales gain at Wal-Mart's Latin American e-commerce site by offering a broader assortment and improving fulfillment, the company said.

"We've seen Brazil grow twice as fast as the market, while increasing traffic fourfold," Neil Ashe, Wal-Mart's CEO of global e-commerce, said in the memo. "In other markets, they've leveraged sales and marketing efforts, driving triple digit growth in Argentina, Chile and Mexico."

Recently, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) has moved more focus to online sales and its battle with Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). Last month, the Oakland Tribune reported the Arkansas-based retail giant was expanding its e-commerce operations in Sunnyvale, Calif., including the hiring of hundreds of tech workers.

Arkansas Business' Mark Friedman recently reported of Wal-Mart and Amazon are expanding pilot programs for same-day delivery services. The offerings from both companies range from groceries to televisions. Read Friedman's report here.