Chief Executive Club Shrinking

In the 18 months since Arkansas Business last profiled the chief executives of publicly traded companies in the state:

• Three companies have dropped from the list;

• Two companies have been added;

• Four of the remaining companies have changed CEOs; and

• Most have enjoyed improved stock prices over the past year.

But just as most of the 25 companies and most of the 26 faces on the list of CEOs have remained the same, so has the typical description: white, college-educated male in his early 50s earning many times more than the rank-and-file Arkansan. The average age is still 52, and there are still no women

in the chief-executive ranks.

The highest paid of the state's CEOs is, no surprise, H. Lee Scott, the 54-year-old head of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, the largest company on the planet in terms of revenue. His 2002 base salary of $1.14 million is the highest among the Arkansas list, but John H. Tyson, CEO and chairman of Tyson Foods of Springdale, was a close second with an even $1 million.

When all compensation received in 2002 is counted, those places reverse, with Tyson pulling in $4.8 million and Scott having to get by on $4.7 million. (Unlike some other publications, Arkansas Business does not include restricted stock awards in its calculation of total compensation. If it did, Scott's compensation last year would have been just under $18 million.)

The lowest salary on the list is, as usual, Stephen W. Brooks. Brooks, co-CEO with his brother of Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. of Springdale, takes no salary at all.

Of the paid CEOs, Charles Black has the most modest salary. In May, Black succeeded Cameron McKeel as CEO of HCB Bancshares Inc. of Camden, the holding company for Heartland Community Bank, a modestly profitable thrift.

The salaries for two of the newest CEOs on the list, Ray Dillon of Deltic Timber Corp. of El Dorado and John W. Pacheco of Cannon Express of Springdale, have not yet been released in public documents. However, the average salary for the 23 paid executives was $456,700 last year, and their average compensation package — including value realized by exercising stock options — was $1.15 million.

The three companies that have dropped from the list since the last "CEO Profiles" in May 2002 are:

• Superior Financial Corp. of Little Rock, which was acquired in September by Arvest Bank Group of Bentonville, the privately held bank holding company owned almost entirely by heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

• Brass Eagle Inc., the Bentonville maker of paintball equipment, which announced last month that it would be acquired by K2 Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif.

• PetQuarters Inc. of Sherwood, an online and mail-order retailer of pet supplies that hasn't filed a single report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a year.

Helping fill the void they left are America's Car-Mart of Bentonville, a fast-growing company that sells and finances used cars, and Cytomedix Inc. of Little Rock. Both companies have returned to their home state after moving out of state, Car-Mart to Irving, Texas, and Cytomedix to the Chicago area.

The two have something else in common as well: Their CEOs still live outside of Arkansas. Tilman "Skip" Fal-gout III, CEO of Car-Mart, still lives in Irving, while Kent Smith of Cytomedix lives in San Diego, Calif.

Car-Mart, however, had nearly $155 million in revenue last year, making it a medium-sized public company by Arkansas standards. Cytomedix, by contrast, had less than $600,000 in sales of its signature therapy for nonhealing wounds.

Jake Bushey of Spring-dale is the last new face in the club. His promotion from president and chief operating officer to president and CEO of Delta Systems Inc. of Rogers was announced in August 2002. He succeeded Gerald Hurlow, a part-time CEO based in Canada, where Delta Systems is traded on the Canadian Venture Exchange.

By the Numbers

The state's youngest CEO is Dwayne Powell, 39, of Pocahontas Bancorp of Jonesboro. The oldest coincidentally has the same last name — Robert Powell, 69, of USA Truck Inc. of Van Buren.

The average tenure among the chief executives of Arkansas public companies is a bit over seven years. Newest to the ranks is Dillon, who on July 1 succeeded Ron Pearce as CEO of Deltic Timber.

Charles Morgan, who has been "company leader" of Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock for 28 years, has been in the top position longer than anyone else.

Of the 26 CEOs, 25 are college graduates, the exception being Dennis Cossey, CEO of ThermoEnergy Corp. of Little Rock, who didn't complete a degree. The most popular alma mater by far is the University of Arkansas, with eight graduates — nine if you count George Gleason II, the Bank of the Ozarks CEO who got a law degree at the UA after graduating from Hendrix College in Conway.

Gleason is Hendrix's only contribution to the list, and four other Arkansas schools also contributed one each:

• Arkansas Tech University at Russellville (Larry Brandt of First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas at Harrison);

• Arkansas State University at Jonesboro (Dwayne Powell);

• John Brown University at Siloam Springs (John McFarland of Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith); and

• Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia (Charles Black of HCB Bancshares).

An even dozen have bachelor's degrees from out-of-state schools. Tulane University at New Orleans produced both Claiborne Deming, CEO of Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado, and Falgout of America's Car-Mart — and both also got law degrees there. The University of North Carolina claims both Robert Powell of USA Truck and Cytomedix's Smith.

Deming and Falgout are among nine of the CEOs who received graduate degrees from out-of-state universities. Three — Gleason, Joe Brooks of Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies of Springdale and Tommy May, CEO of Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff — earned graduate degrees from the UA, while Dwayne Powell received his master's degree from ASU.

Besides Gleason, Deming and Falgout, only one other CEO seems to have a legal education: John Pacheco, the Phoenix investor who bought control of Cannon Express in May. Pacheco graduated from Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H., but doesn't appear to be a practicing attorney. He did not respond to requests for information or even a photograph.

Twenty of the 23 CEOs who have been on the job at least a year have recorded improved stock prices over the past 12 months.

Black of HCB Bancshares, Dillon of Deltic Timber and Pacheco of Cannon Express do not have full-year track records.