Business Briefs


The Arkansas Hospitality Association is seeking nominations for its 2010 Stars of the Industry Awards. The nominations are due by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 4. The awards gala will be held Feb. 22 at the Clinton Presidential Center. Tickets are $50 per person, and reservations must be made by Feb. 18. Visit to download the nomination forms and for more information on the gala or contact Holly Heer at (501) 376-2323 or


Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado last week announced that Tom McKinlay had been promoted to executive vice president of Murphy's World Wide Downstream Operations. In his new role, McKinlay will oversee domestic marketing operations upon the announced retirement of Hank Heithaus. McKinlay, previously a senior vice president at Murphy, will maintain responsibility for the company's worldwide manufacturing operations, which include refining, terminals, renewable energy and international downstream operations, including Murphy Eastern Oil Co. and Murco Petroleum Ltd. He will continue to report to David Wood, president and CEO of Murphy Oil.


The Arkansas Soybean Association will meet Jan. 25 for its 47th Annual Business Session & Seminar. The event will be held at the Convention Center at 1501 Weatherby Drive in Brinkley. The program will include a post-election political update, information on the soybean breeding program at the University of Arkansas and a panel on technology and seed licensing. A tentative agenda is available online at In addition, the winners of the 2010 Yield Challenge will be announced, and the 2011 DuPont Young Leaders, Andy and Stephanie Noble of DeWitt, will be recognized. For more information, please call (800) 247-8691 or e-mail


Dr. Daohong Zhou last week became the first recipient of the Winthrop Rockefeller Endowed Chair for Leukemia & Lymphoma Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The chair was established with a gift from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. It will allow Zhou to advance his research, which focuses on making radiation therapy for cancer safer, less toxic and more effective, as well as developing safer, non-toxic medical countermeasures for use in radiological and nuclear emergencies.


Five Arkansans will be inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in March. The group will be honored at the 23rd annual induction luncheon March 11 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Little Rock. Luncheon tickets are $35 each and are available by calling (5­­01) 228-1470. The new members will be Don W. Alexander of Bryant, former director of the Arkansas State Plant Board and the current head of the Agricultural Council of Arkansas; Jerry L. Hall of Damascus, a lifelong dairyman with more than 40 years of service to the industry; Hugh D. McClain of Mountain Home, a leader in the poultry industry and at one time the largest independent turkey producer in the state; the late Teddy E. Morelock, one of the premier vegetable breeders in the United States and a horticultural professor for 35 years with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, who will be inducted posthumously; and Milo J. Shult of Conway, who is retiring after 18 years as vice president of the UA Division of Agriculture, during which time he led advancements that have significantly increased agricultural production in the state. The Agriculture Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Farm Bureau.


Three drivers with ABF Freight System Inc. of Fort Smith were named captains of the 2011-2012 America's Road Team by the American Trucking Associations, more than any other carrier. David Boyer of Wytheville, Va., Nate McCarty of Denver and Tim McElwaney of Atlanta join an elite group of 18 captains chosen to represent the industry and promote highway safety. The Road Team has included an ABF driver every year since 1995. "Continuous pursuit of safety and education, as seen in the accomplishments of these drivers, is part of ABF's corporate culture," said Wes Kemp, president and CEO of ABF. The captains were selected from a group 34 finalists who competed before a panel of judges from the trucking industry and related fields.


Southern Bancorp of Arkadelphia has announced the promotion of two executives, Brent Black and Jamee Clay, two weeks after it announced the retirement of CEO Phil Baldwin. Black is promoted to senior vice president, and Clay is promoted to vice president of compliance. Black, a certified public accountant with 14 years of experience in accounting and auditing, joined Southern Bancorp in 2003 as controller and was promoted to chief financial officer in 2005. Clay joined Southern Bancorp in 1999 and is responsible for overseeing the bank's compliance, anti-money laundering, and Community Reinvestment Act programs. She has 11 years of banking experience, including nine years in compliance.


USA Truck Inc. of Van Buren has announced the formation of the USA Truck Scholarship Program, designed to help eligible children of USA Truck employees pursue post-secondary education. In announcing the program, Cliff Beckham, the company's president and CEO, said, "At USA Truck we recognize that our driver employees and those who assist them in providing safe and efficient service to our customers are essential to our success.  As a part of the company's on-going commitment to enhance the USA Truck Experience for our employees and their families, we are excited to introduce the USA Truck Scholarship Program." The program will be administered by Scholarship Management Services, a division of Scholarship America. Scholarship applications may be submitted through March 1, 2011, and awards will be made in April for the upcoming academic year.


NanoMech Inc. of Fayetteville, which announced last week that it had acquired a Canadian tech firm, said the deal could lead to more hiring for the company. Though many specific terms of the deal were not disclosed, NanoMech CEO Jim Phillips told Arkansas Business that the company's acquisition of Canadian Nano Technologies LLC, also known as Canano, had been in the works for the last few weeks. He said the purchase was financed through the company and its investors, and does not involve any borrowing. NanoMech has moved five of Canano's top people to northwest Arkansas, along with all of the company's equipment. Though he didn't have a specific timeframe for more hiring, Phillips said that if everything goes according to plan, NanoMech would be adding scores of what he described as knowledge-based jobs to the region. Most of the jobs would have a salary range of $50,000 to $125,000 a year, he said.