Ron Witherspoon

Executive Vice President and Sales Manager

Arvest Bank

Little Rock

Age: 39


Ron Witherspoon

Ron Witherspoon’s counterparts at other banks have titles like chief lending officer, but Arvest Bank calls him a sales manager. Retails sales runs deep in the culture of the banked owned by Wal-Mart’s founding family, and it runs deep in Witherspoon as well.

The Oklahoma native graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1995 and moved to Little Rock to join the executive training program at Arkansas’ other retail giant, Dillard’s Inc. After two years, he hoped Dillard’s would transfer him to Tulsa. When that didn’t work out, he set his sights on Arvest, a growing banking enterprise with a retail mindset that was already familiar to him.

He was hired as a manager trainee in Tulsa in September 1997. He was marketing director for Arvest’s Tulsa market when he transferred back to Little Rock on Sept. 10, 2001 — the day before the terrorist attacks and in time to be part of the acquisition of publicly traded Superior Federal Corp. in 2003. Arvest’s central Arkansas assets exploded from about $100 million to more than $1 billion.

He’s on the boards of the United Way of Central Arkansas and Junior Achievement and this year chairs the American Heart Association’s Festival of Wines fundraiser.

The die-hard Razorback fan lists mentors like John Womack, Jim Cargill and the late Ron Strother, and he now has two words of advice for even younger bankers: continuing education. “Whether it’s graduate school or leadership development, don’t stop the development and growth. It’s so important that you put yourself in uncomfortable positions, which is the only way you learn and grow.”