Mark Duckworth


Matrix Telecommunications


Mark Duckworth

Now at age 30, Mark Duckworth has watched his start-up business grow into a major player in the phone equipment industry.

Duckworth founded Matrix Telecommunications of Jonesboro in November 1991 and continues to run the company, which employs 85 and is expanding into Memphis and other markets.

"We've grown this company from a start-up to one of the major players in the market that we are in," he says. "It's neat to look back and look at the respect we now command from our competitors."

Matrix buys surplus and used telephone systems, remanufactures them and then resells the products on a wholesale basis. The company also owns a retail subsidiary called Optus Communications. Optus provides turnkey phone services, including sales, service and installation, for businesses in Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee.

Duckworth, a Piggott (Clay County) native, had taken a part-time job in the telecom business while in college at University of Missouri at St. Louis. When he moved back to Arkansas after graduation, he founded Matrix.

"My experience has been [gained] on the run more than anything," he says.

Duckworth says much of his attention in coming years will be occupied by his plan to establish retail offices for Optus in larger metropolitan areas such as St. Louis, Little Rock and Nashville.

"I love the business and think that's one of the things that's helped us grow," Duckworth says. "This is a fun and exciting place to be, and I wouldn't trade it for anything else."