Arkansas Business Hall of Fame 2013: Tommy Boyer

Thomas E. “Tommy” Boyer
Founder, Micro Images
Amarillo, Texas

The life of Thomas E. “Tommy” Boyer consists of many parts. Basketball star. Sales representative. Husband. Father. Entrepreneur. Philanthropist. Volunteer. Razorback.

At first glance, Boyer’s life seems to be compartmentalized. For example, consider his homes in Amarillo, Texas, and Fayetteville — he has in the past said that his work was in Amarillo and his recreation and volunteering was in Fayetteville. But when you really look at it, his life is all about finding a focus and concentrating everything you have on that. Boyer has just done it several times over. All of his focus ties together through his clear understanding of what he wanted to accomplish in life, as well as an unwavering determination to achieve it. The combination of commitment, self-assurance, self-discipline, creativity and hard work has allowed him to overcome adversity and achieve his goals.

The first public display of the power of the Boyer focus was basketball. He was an All-American in his hometown of Fort Smith under legendary coach Gayle Kaundart — his teacher and mentor. Boyer chose to play college basketball at the University of Arkansas over Kentucky so his parents could watch him play in Fayetteville.

He was an All-American at Arkansas and a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection. Boyer was the best free throw shooter in the history of college basketball, setting three NCAA scoring records, and twice led the nation in free throw shooting percentage with 93.3 in 1962, and 91.3 in 1963. His career free throw percentage was 89.2.

Boyer completed his career in 1963 as the Razorbacks’ all-time leading scorer for three Southwest Conference seasons and averaged 21.9 points per game. He was only the third player in school history to score over 1,000 points with a total of 1,067. Boyer was inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor in 1999, and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. A statue of Boyer stands in the Hall of Champions in Bud Walton Arena.

In 1964, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from what is now the Sam M. Walton College of Business and married his college sweetheart, Sylvia.

Boyer had the opportunity to play in the National Basketball Association but chose to pursue his business career with the Eastman Kodak Company. He took on his new job as a sales representative in Amarillo with the same kind of focus he had shown playing basketball. Boyer sold micrographics systems in the Texas panhandle and western Oklahoma while covering the financial, commercial, industrial and government markets.

Boyer was the only sales manager in the history of Eastman Kodak to exceed corporate sales goals for 26 consecutive years — his entire tenure at the company. He was named Outstanding Account Executive at Kodak in 1978. Boyer led the company in sales in 1985, and he received Kodak’s Phil Samper Award, which recognized the sales professional in the company demonstrating outstanding sales performance throughout his career.

He was offered several promotions throughout his career with Kodak but turned them down to stay in Amarillo, a place he and his family grew to love.

In 1983, Kodak announced that it was closing its 30-plus microfilm processing labs throughout the United States. Boyer contacted a longtime friend who was retiring from Kodak and moving back to Lubbock, Texas, and they formed a partnership and opened a lab in Lubbock. Kodak made its company an authorized distributor for its micrographics products, and a certified ImageGuard processing lab.

Within a year, their company had a 90 percent market share in west Texas and eastern New Mexico, and the company was making a profit within four months after opening. In 1989 Boyer bought his partner’s interest in the company. In 1992, another ImageGuard processing lab was opened in Fort Worth, and he expanded the business throughout Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.

Shortly after retiring from Kodak in November 1989, he founded Micro Images in Amarillo on Jan. 1, 1990. The privately held company has been profitable every quarter for the past 23 years and has never incurred any debt.

Before the hardware and software division of the company was sold in 2007, Micro Images established offices in fourteen major cities throughout the United States including Amarillo, Texas; Austin, Texas; Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; Houston; San Antonio; Kansas City, Mo.; Minneapolis; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Rochester, N.Y.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Atlanta.

Boyer has been recognized several times for his business success. In 2000, he was presented with the Medallion for Entrepreneurship. This is a national award which recognizes outstanding individuals who combine innovative business achievement with service to humanity. In 1999, Boyer was honored by the Walton College as Entrepreneur of the Year.

Boyer says himself that after he moved to Amarillo in 1964, he had never returned to the University of Arkansas until his daughter Melissa decided to attend college there in 1985. Once he and Sylvia re-connected with the university, though, he put his focus on Arkansas and the university.

He served for four years as the chairman of the Campaign for the 21st Century which raised over $1 billion. Boyer is a founding member and a gold member of the Towers of Old Main, was a member of the University of Arkansas Foundation Board of Directors, and the University of Arkansas Board of Advisors until 2011. He chaired the Walton College’s Dean’s Executive Advisory Board from 2003 to 2008. Boyer was also the commencement speaker for the Walton College in 2008.

Boyer and Sylvia were honored by the university as Parents of the Year in 1990, Volunteers of the Year in 1992, and the couple received the Arkansas Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award in 1999.

Boyer has been a mentor to many students at the Walton College and has been a guest lecturer there on many occasions. He and Sylvia established endowed fellowships in the Walton College which provides each student $50,000 for four years of study.

Additionally, the Boyers have funded two endowed scholarships in the Walton College, and two in the College of Education and Health Professions. They also have endowed scholarships in the law school and the Arkansas Alumni Association. More than 200 students have benefitted financially from these fellowships and scholarships since their inception.

In 1993, they established the Sylvia Hack Boyer Center for Student Services in the College of Education.