Posted 7/12/1999 12:00 am
Updated 2 years ago
Patti Upton has a creative knack, while husband Dick Upton handles the details. From this complementary yet competitive partnership arose Aromatique Inc., the 16-year-old Heber Springs-based decorative fragrance company with a worldwide presence and the foundation of the family's fortune.
"I would have never raked the front yard and put it in a bag and tried to sell it because my mind does not work that way," Dick Upton says. "Once it was in the bag, I was able to understand the concept."
Patti put "potpourri" together in a package and gave it a nice holiday fragrance for a friend who owned a gift shop. "She did that as a hoot, just for display," Dick Upton says. From that little bag of flora known as the "Smell of Christmas" sprung an industry that now includes pharmaceutical bath products to go along with the decorative fragrance products sold in 8,000 selected shops. Retail sales top $110 million.
The family, which includes sons Peyton and Paige, also is involved in catfish farming. They recently sold their West Memphis beer distributorship, which was founded by Upton's father, now 92 and retired. Patti Upton is a director for SBC Communications Inc.
Dick Upton believes entrepreneurship runs in the genes. His father, in his early teens, sold soft drinks and candy on a World War I troop train, only to be shaken down by some troops for all his earnings and tossed off the train. That setback obviously didn't deter him.
Dick Upton, too, showed a knack for business as a teen, selling dog food at Southland Greyhound Park. Success, he says, often "just happens." Successful companies and families today are the ones that are focused, Upton says.
And successful people, he adds, usually prove to be excellent judges of others. "Good ideas go into the bucket in a hurry if you don't have the right people to go forward with them. There have been many a good idea fail because of the lack of good people to carry it through."
Fortunately for the Uptons, they didn't just rake theirs up and throw it away.