William Benton Jr.


Planters National Bank


William Benton Jr.

Banking was a no-brainer career choice for William Benton Jr. after graduating in 1983 from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. His family had controlled Planters National Bank in Hughes (St. Francis County) since 1961.

Armed with his bachelor's degree in business administration, Benton started as a teller and worked in various positions throughout the $23 million asset bank. He became president of Planters National in 1988.

Benton expanded his banking interests in 1996 by investing as a minority stockholder in a Little Rock start-up operation, Pinnacle Bank. That same year, he joined the board of directors at Computer Sentry Software Inc., a computer security firm based in Franklin, Tenn.

His real estate investments include H&M Insurance and Real Estate Inc., which he purchased in 1989, and 5,000 acres split between timber and row crop in east Arkansas.

In 1994, Benton purchased Greenbriar Hunting Club, a 2,000-acre waterfowl and deer hunting spread in Prairie County. A 500-acre waterfowl spread in southern Ontario was added in 1997.

Benton has served on the board of the Arkansas Game & Fish Foundation and on the national finance committee for Ducks Unlimited Inc. since 1996. He became assistant treasurer of DU in 1997.

"I've always been a risk-taker, and I believe in diversity, as you can see by my business interests," the 37-year-old executive says.