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Largest Aerospace Companies

Ranked by number of employees in Arkansas. Includes 2018 revenue, 2017 revenue, top executive, business description and contact information.

Rank Name City Person in charge
1 Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. Little Rock Rosanvallon, John
2 Lockheed Martin Camden Operations Camden Hewson, Marilyn A.
3 Ducommun Inc. Huntsville Oswald, Steven
4 General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems Hampton Perrin, Erik
5 American Fuel Cell & Coated Fabrics Co. Magnolia Accordino, Michael
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                            [title] => Update: Czech Gun Maker Plans $90M HQ at LR Port, 565 Jobs
                            [summary] => Czech gun-maker CZ-USA plans a $90 million gun manufacturing operation and North American headquarters that will employ 565 people at the Little Rock Port, the governor and company officials announce.
                            [content] => 

Czech gun-maker CZ-USA plans a $90 million gun manufacturing operation and North American headquarters that will employ 565 people at the Little Rock Port, the governor and company officials announced Tuesday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson; Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission; U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.; Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde; and Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. made the announcement at a news conference in the Governor's Conference Room at the state Capitol.

CZ-USA is the U.S. affiliate of Czech firearms manufacturer ÄŒeská zbrojovka a.s. Uherský Brod. It makes handguns, rifles, shotguns and suppressors, including handguns under the Dan Wesson brand. 

The company aims to build a new manufacturing facility on 73 acres at the Port of Little Rock, where workers will make parts, assemble weapons and process orders. In a news release, the company said it would implement a two-phase approach to create hundreds of jobs over a six-year period.

Hutchinson said Tuesday that the new jobs will pay more than $22 per hour. Construction will begin "immediately," with start-up planned for March 2020.

CZ-USA Chairman Bogdan Heczko said the new facility marks a "new chapter for our company."

"As CZ looked to increase our presence in North America, it engaged in a multi-state search for the ideal location," Heczko said. "The Arkansas workforce, culture, business climate and industry support cleared the way for us to choose Little Rock as our new home."

The company already has an office in Kansas City, Missouri, that employs 70 and functions as a warehouse and distribution site and performs small assembly, sales and marketing functions. 

Heczko said the company considered expanding there first but was introduced to Arkansas by the governor and economic development leaders attending the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas.

Hutchinson said officials had breakfast with the company's executives during the trade show. 

"It was at that breakfast that we got things moving. We really saw eye to eye, and I think they understood then the interest that Arkansas had, the commitment that we have, the relationship that you can have with our state," Hutchinson said. "From that meeting grew some very intense negotiations and competition and discussions, but through all of that and through many personal visits to our state, CZ-USA chose Arkansas."

Heczko said the selection process took more than a year and that, at first, Arkansas wasn't a serious contender. But the executives' first visit to the state was a game-changer. 

"After the first visit here, we were really astonished," he said. "We were met with a warm welcome. The big team was really closely cooperating. The big team was really dedicated and involved in the process. We were very surprised. This visit changed our mind."

Preston said Arkansas is providing an array of incentives for the project, including a forgivable loan, a grant from the governor's Quick Action Closing Fund for infrastructure and money for employee training. 

The project also qualifies for AEDC's "Create Rebate," an annual cash rebate based on the number of jobs at the plant, and "Tax Back," which reimburses the company for sales taxes it pays on building materials, machinery and equipment associated with the project.

AEDC provided a breakdown of jobs, capital investment and incentives by project phases:

Phase 1

  • 357 jobs plus a total capital investment of $60 million 
  • $11 million loan
  • $4 million infrastructure grant
  • $1.25 million for training assistance
  • Create Rebate 
  • Tax Back

Phase 2 

  • 208 jobs plus a total capital investment of $30 million
  • $7 million loan
  • $750,000 for training assistance
  • Create Rebate
  • Tax Back

The city of Little Rock and Pulaski County are providing port acreage to the company free of charge, provided it creates the 565 jobs. The city and county are also spending about $4.9 million to make a road there appropriate for industrial use. That infrastructure will be beneficial to CZ-USA and "open up other property" in the area for future industrial economic development project, according to Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber.

"All of that is being finalized, so those numbers could move a little bit," Chesshir told Arkansas Business. "All of this has been put together in the last month. There's some additional funds we're actually working to secure that would become part of that $4.9 million for the full-road buildout."

The announcement represents the first direct foreign investment in Arkansas from the Czech Republic. The factory will be the first in North America for the company, which exports to more than 90 countries and has 2,000 employees. CZ-USA said it is already seeking applicants for jobs at the plant at LittleRockChamber.com/cz.

The announcement is marks an expansion of Arkansas firearms industry. Arkansas is already home to firearms operations by companies including SIG Sauer, Remington, Walther Arms, Umarex USA and Daisy Outdoor Products.

Watch Video of the Announcement

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At 59, Registered Nurse Greg Hendrix couldn’t imagine doing anything else with his life. Equipped with a chemotherapy certification, Hendrix spends his days making others’ days a little brighter within Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas.

After visiting hospitals when he was younger, Hendrix discovered that patient care was something that intrigued him. The Washburn, Missouri, native pursued his nursing degree at Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri. His passion for nursing led him to a job at Mercy Hospital in Rogers, where he’s worked for the past 12 years.

Hendrix is a charge nurse at Mercy, responsible for the 48 beds on his floor. His daily duties include keeping up with all of the discharges and assigning patients to the proper rooms. Since he is chemotherapy and midline certified, Hendrix is called to several patients across the hospital.

He’s also adept at difficult IV insertions and prides himself on being an advocate for his staff and patients.

“My challenge is being able to help the nurses, techs, patients and family members as needed,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to know I have done everything that has been asked of me.”

4
Number of states Mercy serves — Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Texas
1986
Year the Sisters of Mercy Health System was formed. In 2011 it transitioned to the name Mercy.
200
Number of beds in the Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas campus

Hendrix finds the most rewarding part of his job to be working with patients and family members. He seeks to make them both as comfortable as possible during their stay.

“When patients leave the hospital, I want them to be able to say that someone made this hospital stay a lot better than it could have been otherwise,” he said.

Over the years, Hendrix has met many memorable people that he’s treated. One patient, in particular, was a young lady who had been newly diagnosed with cancer.

“I was involved in her chemotherapy,” Hendrix said. “The young lady was so sick. She was in the hospital for about two weeks. I watched her improve and then go home. Her family and I just had a special bond, and we still keep connected.”

When he’s not busy making the lives of others a little easier at Mercy, Hendrix enjoys farming and spending time with his family.

“I want to make their hospital stay as comfortable as possible. When patients leave the hospital, I want them to be able to say that someone made this hospital stay a lot better than it could have been otherwise.”

— Greg Hendrix

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Tutor Perini Corp. of Los Angeles, a civil, building and specialty construction company, announced Tuesday that its subsidiary, Roy Anderson Corp., has been awarded a $200 million contract to add a new casino complex and hotel at Southland Gaming and Racing Park in West Memphis.

The contract was awarded by Southland owner Delaware North of Buffalo, New York. The project includes a 20-story, 300-room hotel. The 240,000-SF casino complex includes a larger buffet and steakhouse restaurants, a new food hall, a coffee shop and a player lounge.

In a news release, Tutor said work on the project would begin "immediately," with "substantial completion" expected in January 2021.

Southland officially announced expansion plans last fall after Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling at Southland, Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and two other sites in Jefferson and Pope counties.

Southland, which opened in 1956 as a greyhound racetrack, aims to create “the Mid-South region’s premier casino." The expansion will add as many as 60 live table games and 400 gaming machines to the current 2,000. Lou Jacobs, co-CEO of Delaware North, said in January that the expansion “represents the largest ever investment in a casino in Arkansas and one of the largest for a hospitality project."

Oaklawn, a 114-year-old thoroughbred track that is already the state's top visitor draw, announced a $100 million casino-and-hotel expansion on Nov. 19. It said casino gaming will be "another amenity" to bolster racing.

Also Tuesday, Warner Gaming, a hospitality and entertainment company, said it has teamed up with the Hard Rock brand to propose a new resort and casino for Pope County. The partnership plans to file its application with the Arkansas Racing Commission in May, which will include more details of the project. Voters in Pope County voted against the constitutional amendment to allow gambling.

Publicly traded Tutor Perini (NYSE: TPC) offers diversified general contracting and design-build services to clients around the world.

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Two major economic development projects in Arkansas are caught up in the trade fight between the United States and China, and one is now on hold, Arkansas' economic development office said Monday.

In 2017, Shandong Ruyi Technology Group announced it would revamp the old Sanyo television plant in Forrest City, turning the 1.4 million-SF plant into a cotton-yard factory and employing up to 800 people

But Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Sunday that the project is on hold amid uncertainty about a new trade deal between the United States and China.

The Journal reported that another project — Shandong Sun Paper Industry's $1.8 billion plan to build a plant to produce linerboard for shipping boxes near Arkadelphia — had also been postponed. But Brandi Hinkle, the AEDC's director of communications, told Arkansas Business that the project is moving ahead.

"Sun Paper is still a go," Hinkle said. As Arkansas Business reported in December, the company changed its original plans for the plant — to produce bleached dissolving pulp used to make rayon — causing it to begin the permitting process anew. Hinkle said the company is still going through the permitting process with the state Department of Environmental Quality.

In Forrest City, Ruyi Technology Group planned to refashion the former television factory into a vast yarn factory capable of consuming Arkansas' entire annual cotton crop. The $410 million project was expected to be up and running by the end of last year.

In the Journal interview, Preston blamed the delay on the trade fight between the two countries.

"This is the heart of the Mississippi Delta, an area that could really utilize the jobs," Preston said, according to the Journal article. "But the timeline has been a moving target. It's been delayed significantly…they can get cotton from other countries and I think that’s what they’ve been doing." 

Ruyi officials didn't respond to requests for comment.

Hinkle told Arkansas Business on Monday that the state is hopeful that the Forrest City project will come back online once the countries reach a new trade agreement. She noted that Ruyi still owns the property.

In all, investment between China and the U.S. has declined amid the trade fight. The Journal reported that investment flow between the countries fell to $19 billion last year, from $60 billion in 2016.

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David O’Neal didn’t want to leave Arkansas, so he kept turning down Roadrunner Transportation Systems, which wanted him to take over its safety division at the company headquarters in Downers Grove, Illinois.

O’Neal had joined the Arkansas Trucking Association in 2015 to fill the newly created position of director of safety services. He was later promoted to vice president of safety programs and industry engagement.

After trying to persuade O’Neal to leave Arkansas, Roadrunner finally capitulated and offered O’Neal the opportunity to run its safety program from Little Rock out of the offices of Roadrunner subsidiary Rich Logistics. O’Neal accepted the offer to become Roadrunner’s vice president of safety, overseeing the safety programs of the company’s 18 subsidiaries.

“It was an interesting opportunity for what they wanted to do,” O’Neal said. “But I wasn’t in any way, shape or fashion interested in leaving Arkansas.”

O’Neal worked for FedEx for two decades before joining ATA when it created a safety program that included his position, the Arkansas Road Team and other projects. His carrier experience helped him with the organization side at ATA and now he returns to managing the day-to-day safety operations of a national transportation chain.

“It was just a great opportunity,” O’Neal said. “There was zero heartburn at ATA. I love [President] Shannon Newton and the entire team.”

Also see: New ATA Hire Skylar Hatfield Following in Dad’s Tire Tracks

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Summer Fallen, the airport service manager, says the airport has felt the positive effects of a strong economy in northwest Arkansas. [content] =>

Summer Fallen took over as head of the Fayetteville Executive Airport at Drake Field four years ago with a background in finance and accounting.

It doesn’t take a numbers guru to know that things are adding up for the airport, which also runs the fixed-base operations (FBO) at the facility. Fallen said the airport has felt the positive effects of a strong economy in northwest Arkansas.

“For the first time in a very long time, Drake Field is at capacity,” said Fallen, the airport services manager. “All facilities on our airfield are leased. We also have a lengthy waiting list. With the economy being the way it is, that portion of the market that has always wanted to have their own airplane — now they can afford to do so. You have seen that flood the market.”

Fallen said the airport has plenty of room to expand and several people or companies with ground leases at Drake Field are in the process of breaking ground to build new hangars and create more space. The revenue generated from leasing represents approximately a quarter of the airport’s revenue, but a full house means more flights, which translates to more fuel.

Fallen said Fayetteville Aviation Services, Drake Field’s FBO, which the city took over in 2013, sold slightly more than 544,000 gallons of fuel in 2018, generating more than $2 million in revenue. Those numbers were increases from 2017, when the FBO sold 420,000 gallons and generated $1.54 million in revenue.

The strong economy and depth of businesses in northwest Arkansas have helped the private aviation business. Jett Aircraft started a charter service last year as private business travel continued to increase.

Nationwide, private jet flights exceeded 3 million in 2017 and 2018 and are expected to surpass that threshold again this year. In business-centric northwest Arkansas, private flights are a well-used asset, and not just by the major Fortune 500 companies.

Fallen said many private travelers are small-business owners or private groups, not just CEOs of the billion-dollar companies.

“Flying is now just a normal part of travel,” Fallen said. “People, especially in the private community, do want the full experience. We have great facilities; we are a full-service FBO. We try to capture all aspects of the market. We are not a corporate-based airport and we’re not a general aviation-based airport. We just want to provide all services to all.”

Destination Airport
In Bentonville, the airport recently opened the Fieldhouse, a two-story, 22,000-SF multiuse center that houses Thaden Field’s FBO, Summit Aviation, as well as a flying club and a restaurant named after Louise Thaden, a flying pioneer born in Bentonville. The Fieldhouse is the centerpiece of the plan to make Thaden Field a destination itself. Summit Aviation General Manager Brad Elliott said visitors can kayak, canoe and fish Lake Bentonville, on which the Fieldhouse is located.

“We opened up this side of the field to the public,” Elliott said. “We are attracting a ton of public folks into the aviation world, where typically you have chain-link fences and barbed wire to keep you away. We are looking to do the complete opposite and introduce it to the public.”

Elliott said Rogers’ Carter Field is built for the corporate jets with a longer runway, and Bentonville is chasing a new kind of tourism market. Elliott said there are 100 grass airstrips in Arkansas that provide access to natural getaways such as Gaston’s White River Resort.

“We have seen some corporate activity through here; it is typically local and regional folks that are flying short hops,” Elliott said. “We’re making this more of a destination site. We are really targeting the tourism side and making this a gateway to the backcountry of Arkansas. Our goal this year is to promote flying out to the places with grass strips. The public hasn’t been exposed to that.”

Elliott said when the Fieldhouse opened in October, the field’s flight school had 110 students. Since then that number has swelled to 150 and there is a lengthy wait list.

Adding more pilots to the pipeline is a critical issue in aviation. Much like other industries, such as trucking, which is experiencing a driver shortage, pilots are going to be needed as the industry continues to grow.

A 2018 report showed that 40,000 new business jet pilots will be needed by 2028. On the commercial side, the report said, more than 100,000 will need to be added.

More Affordable Convenience
Mark Rockwell, a pilot and principal with Jett Aircraft at Drake Field, said the charter company has seen a 250% jump in flights from a year ago.

Jett operates a Learjet 45 that can fly from Drake Field to Bakersfield, California, in less than three hours. The convenience of a private jet for business travelers is its ability to fly to airports not normally served by the commercial airlines.

“This is the first high-end charter company we have had,” Fallen said. “It’s something we thought was important. One of the reasons northwest Arkansas continues to grow and boom is because of corporations, and the corporate nature is time is money. We knew charter aircraft would be a market that would be highly sought after.”

Rockwell said a private jet service can fly company executives to a facility that isn’t located near an airport frequently serviced by commercial airlines. The private jet then can make another trip the same day to another non-major site.

“The companies we are flying may not be going to a major city,” Rockwell said. “If we take, for example, a poultry company to their plant, [it is not] going to be in Atlanta. That is where we have an advantage, going to the off-the-hub locations.”

Drake Field has certification that allows jets with more than 31 passengers to use the runway — pretty important since the University of Arkansas’ athletic teams use Drake Field.

Rockwell said he recently flew a group of eight on a nonbusiness trip to Augusta, Georgia, for a golf tournament. Fallen said when people think of the expense of a private jet, they forget that the cost isn’t as steep if divided by the number of people in a group.

Plus, Fallen said, there is the time savings and convenience of having a flight existing just for you.

“People automatically assume they can’t afford it,” Fallen said. “With a private charter you want to leave at 4:30, you pull up at 4:25 and you go to your destination.”

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Chambers Bancshares Inc. of Danville said Wednesday that has agreed to acquire Bank of Dardanelle Bankshares Inc., the parent company of River Town Bank.

Financial terms of the transaction, set to close mid-summer, were not disclosed. The deal will merge the two remaining banks chartered in Yell County and make River Town Bank a subsidiary of Chambers Bancshares. 

The companies said River Town will continue to operate as a separate bank until the banking systems are converted and the banks are merged under the Chambers Bank name, which is expected in the fourth quarter.

"Chambers Bank is a respected and financially sound community bank," Blake Tarpley, president and CEO of River Town Bank, said in a news release. "We believe that the commitment the organization has shown to its employees, customers and the communities it serves in Arkansas will be positive for River Town employees and our customers. We look forward to working with the team at Chambers to make this a successful and seamless transition for everyone involved."

Founded in 1934, River Town Bank has branches in Atkins, Conway, Danville, Dardanelle, Dover and Russellville. It had assets of $132 million at the end of 2018.

The purchase will bring Chambers Bank's total asset size to more than $950 million and add four Arkansas communities to its footprint. The company, founded in 1930, has 18 branches.

"Both banks were founded in the 1930s in Yell County and have shared values of exceptional customer service, community support and — most importantly — trust," said John E. Chambers III, chairman of Chambers Bancshares. "River Town Bank customers can be assured that we will continue to offer the hometown service and hometown values to which they've grown accustomed, but with even more locations and financial products."

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RUSSELLVILLE — A gambling company says it is partnering with the Hard Rock International brand to build a resort in Pope County, but the proposal faces legal hurdles.

Warner Gaming said Tuesday the planned Hard Rock complex would include a casino, hotel, restaurants, conference facilities and entertainment venues.

Arkansas voters legalized casinos statewide in 2018 . But in Pope County, voters simultaneously approved a measure that says a majority of registered county voters must approve a county judge's letter of support for a casino. Pope County Judge Ben Cross says that threshold is nearly impossible to reach.

Cross said Tuesday he also expects a long legal battle with another casino operator that has received a now-rescinded letter of support and that the county likely won't see a casino for months or years.

(All contents © copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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A look at rising traffic and revenue at the Hot Springs airport (see At HOT, High Fliers Meet High Rollers) led Whispers to the juicy history of how the airfield got its name, and the shady mayor whose name was literally chiseled off the terminal.

Hot Springs Memorial Field was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1947 to honor Arkansans who fought and died in World War II. But originally, cronies on the City Council had named the airport for Mayor Leo P. McLaughlin.

McLaughlin had run a political machine in Garland County for 20 years, cavorting with underworld figures and giving official cover to illegal gambling. But as veterans returned to Arkansas itching for change, McLaughlin’s days of power — and of seeing his name on the airport — were numbered.

Liz Robbins, executive director of the Garland County Historical Society, picks up the narrative:

“McLaughlin had done everything he could to get out of military service in World War I; he even tried to claim he was crazy,” Robbins said. “So this was a time just after the people of Garland County had sent their sons to war, and many to their deaths, so McLaughlin’s name on the airport didn’t set well with a lot of people.”

Sidney McMath, a Pacific war hero and Marine who later became governor, challenged McLaughlin’s ma-chine as part of what came to be called the GI Revolt, when war veterans came home to challenge the political status quo.

McMath won a stunning upset to become prosecuting attorney in 1947, and promptly charged McLaughlin with election fraud. Even though he was eventually acquitted, McLaughlin was forced to resign.

“McMath kicked the machine out, and the new council quickly removed McLaughlin’s name from the airport,” Robbins said. “They chiseled his name off the marble floor in the terminal.”

In 1948, at age 36, McMath was elected as the 34th governor of Arkansas.

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Three weeks ago, Whispers told you that Tyler Vance had given notice that he would leave Bank OZK, where he’s worked since 2006 and been chief operating officer since 2013.

Now we can tell you what his plan is.

The info comes straight from the horse’s email:

“Beginning in June, I will start a new adventure as Discipleship Pastor for Fellowship Bible Church Cabot. This is a campus of the Fellowship Bible Church in West Little Rock.

“The Bible tells us in Proverbs 19:21 that, ‘many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.’

I want to always be about his purposes in my life, so I have great confidence that God in his perfect timing has interrupted my banking plans and placed his purpose before me.

“While in some ways it has been a difficult decision to leave a successful 23-year career in the financial services industry and my great Bank OZK teammates, I know that God’s plan is always the best plan.”

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Walmart Inc. President and CEO C. Douglas McMillon saw his total compensation increase 3.6% to $23.6 million for the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31 compared with the previous year.

McMillon, who has been head of the Bentonville retailer since February 2014, received stock awards of $15.6 million during the fiscal year, according to the company's annual proxy. McMillion received a $5.1 million bonus. His salary was $1.3 million, the same as it was the previous year.

The annual total compensation of Walmart's median associate was $21,952, which was up 14.5% from the previous year. The ratio of McMillion's total compensation to the median associate's was 1,076-to-1. Most of McMillion's total compensation includes the stock awards of $15.6 million, which has not yet been earned or paid but will be determined based on Walmart hitting its goals.

The company set 10:30 a.m. June 5 as the date for its annual shareholders' meeting, which will be held at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. An Associates/Shareholders Celebration will be held at 8 a.m. on June 7 at the Bud Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

The proxy also showed that M. Brett Biggs, Walmart's chief financial officer, had total compensation of $9.4 million, an increase of 24.1% from the previous year. He had a salary of $892,948, stock awards of $5.7 million and a bonus of $2.2 million.

Gregory Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., received $13.5 million in total compensation, up from $11 million the previous year. His base salary slightly increased to $1.1 million. He received stock awards valued at $8.8 million, up from $6.7 million the previous year. His bonus was $2.9 million.

John R. Furner, president and CEO of the Sam’s Club division, had a compensation package worth $9.3 million, which was down from $12.8 million the previous year. His salary was $799,425, and he received $6.3 million in stock options and a $1.8 million bonus.

Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, had a compensation package worth $9.3 million. Her base salary was $1 million, and she had stock awards worth $9.2 million and a bonus of $2.3 million. This is the first time McKenna appeared on the list of named executives.

Board Changes

The Walmart board has nominated Cesar Conde, 45, who is chairman of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises and NBCUniversal International Group, to become a new director.

Walmart’s board recommends that shareholders approve hiring Ernst & Young LLP as the company’s accountants for the fiscal year that ends Jan. 31. The New York accounting firm earned $28.1 million in fees in Walmart’s fiscal year, up from $24.4 million the previous year. 

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A Benton man who hit a hole-in-one during a golf tournament at the Malvern Country Club last year thought he was going to drive home with a new 2018 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck as his prize.

Instead, David Holloway said, he wasn’t awarded the truck, valued at about $40,000, because he “was teeing from an incorrect tee box,” according to his lawsuit, filed in Saline County Circuit Court. And the truck wasn’t the prize anyway, he was told.

Holloway sued the country club and Teeter Motor Co. of Malvern for fraud for not handing over the keys to the truck. He is seeking $40,000 plus damages to punish the defendants.

But Teeter Motor’s Manager Byron Efird told Whispers last week the prize for hitting a hole-in-one was $15,000 off a new Chevrolet from Teeter Chevrolet, not a new pickup truck.

“There wasn’t ever a pickup truck involved in the golf tournament when you hit a hole-in-one,” he said. “It was clearly stated in the signs.”

Holloway also didn’t hit the ball from the tee box that he was supposed to in order to be eligible for the hole-in-one prize, Efird said.

In addition, Efird said, Teeter didn’t have anything to do with putting the golf tournament on.

All Teeter did was buy insurance through US Hole In One of Haverford, Pennsylvania, to cover the prize in the event of a hole-in-one. And any disputes have to be settled in Pennsylvania courts, he said.

Attorney Dennis Davis of Bryant, who is representing Holloway, told Whispers that Holloway was under the impression that the truck was the prize for hitting a hole-in-one.

The Malvern Country Club didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

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Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff on Thursday announced first-quarter net income of $47.7 million, down 7 percent from the same quarter last year.

The publicly traded company (Nasdaq: SFNC) said diluted earnings per share were 51 cents, down from 55 percent in the same quarter last year. The company missed analysts' expectation of earnings of 54 cents per share.

The company noted that this year's quarter included $1.4 million in net after-tax merger-related, early retirement program and "branch right-sizing" costs.

Excluding those costs, "core earnings" were $49.1 million, down about 7 percent from the same quarter last year. Core diluted earnings per share were 53 cents, down from 57 cents in the same quarter last year.

"We had solid operating results in the first quarter," George A. Makris Jr., chairman and CEO, said in a news release. "Revenue was affected by three significant items compared to the first quarter of 2018. Accretion income was down $4.6 million; debit card interchange income, primarily as a result of the Durbin rate cap, was down $2.8 million; and the gain on sale of securities was up $2.7 million, resulting in a net decrease of $4.7 million from the previous year."

Shortly after the quarter ended, the company completed its $172 million acquisition of Reliance Bancshares Inc. of St. Louis suburb of Des Peres, Missouri. The acquisition was announced in November; Reliance shareholders approved the deal earlier this month.

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The voice on the phone jolted me back four decades, to 1980, freshman year at the University of Central Arkansas. The adult world was enchantingly new, and so was an FM station called Magic 105.

And the first voice I heard on the station was Tom Wood’s, spinning up hits by Blondie, the Stones and Pink Floyd.

Now Wood is an Arkansas radio icon, but unemployed. He was let go April 10 by iHeartMedia, a casualty of modern radio’s big chain era. Freed in the 1990s from FCC rules capping ownership at one AM station and one FM station per market, chains now dominate the industry.

“All power to corporate radio,” Wood said. “I don’t blame them for snapping up hundreds of stations after deregulation.” But as he told Michael Hibblen of KUAR-FM, he hopes the chains soon see that the money is in the top 50 U.S. markets, and allow midmarket stations (Little Rock ranks about 85th) to revert to local ownership.

Wood’s warm Midwestern voice still rings with optimism, and he expects to leverage his celebrated leadership at KMJX, 105.1, into a new job. For one thing, he helped make a star of another Arkansas survivor, Tommy Smith, now of KABZ-FM, The Buzz.

“I’m just looking for the next adventure,” Wood told Arkansas Business, “hoping to stay in Little Rock and stay on the air. I was bitten by the radio bug as a kid. My first job was in 1972, while I was at Southern Illinois University.”

In 1979, he moved from Illinois to build Magic 105 with its founding partners, Dick Booth and Gordon Heiges. “They said they had a station licensed to Conway, cleared by the FCC to move the transmitter closer to Little Rock.” It took a year to finish the building and hire a staff, with Wood, Booth and Heiges speeding construction by hanging sheetrock.

“I wasn’t a financial partner,” Wood said. “I was 26 years old. I had an uncle in finance in Chicago, and I asked if it was possible to borrow $10,000 to get in. He did some research and came back to tell me that broadcasting was the worst investment. He was kind, but said there was no way I’d get the loan.”

Smith was one of Wood’s first hires, along with Sandy O’Connor, Michael P. (Langley), Jessie (Karen Green) and Sharpe Dunaway, now owner of Sharpe Videography in Conway.

“What strikes me now is how different it was,” Wood said. “Live personalities around the clock, being proactive to the community. It was the kind of necessary communication that the internet provides today. Gratifying, and tons of fun.”

Wood took the morning shift while Smith blossomed in the afternoons, drawing audiences with a fresh and provocatively funny approach. “We concluded he should be the morning star. The trick was convincing him to get up at 5 a.m.”

Smith set his alarm and became king of Little Rock radio for years, Wood said.

“We had a well-oiled machine, and we knew how to not screw it up. Managing talent in radio is a flimsy, nebulous thing. You nudge and encourage, and set soft borders, so people will take chances.” Dunaway and Smith, known as “The Outlaw,” embodied that spirit.

One favorite segment, brazenly stolen from other markets, was the “secret sound.” Listeners would guess the source of “some sound from everyday life, like the flicking of a Bic lighter.” The jackpot grew with each wrong guess, sometimes reaching into the thousands. “We knew how to promote that, and the great franchise of a beloved morning show.”

But Smith ran afoul of corporate management not long after Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction,” which unnerved media executives, Wood said. “Losing Tommy was brutal. One executive [for Clear Channel, the chain that had bought Magic 105] heard Tommy’s show and thought it was too blue. I tried to tell him not to kill the golden goose, but he ordered a change in tenor. Of course Tommy went back in and did the same exact show; the fellow heard it and fired Tommy on the spot.

“Everybody blamed me. It was a huge PR black eye, and all the TV stations covered it.” That was 2004. By 2008, Magic 105 had changed its name, frequency and format.

“A radio station that runs for 28 years is a great anomaly. I’ve enjoyed going to work every day for 46 years. Hopefully I’ll get to keep doing it.”

Fun memory: “When the Bill Clinton library was being built, we had a billboard with an arrow pointing to the site. It said, ‘Carry On, Wayward Son.’”

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[content] =>

The Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame on Monday announced its fifth annual group of inductees — seven women and one organization — who will be honored at a ceremony on Aug. 29 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

"We are pleased to add these Arkansas women to the ranks of past inductees whose leadership and achievements have opened doors and broken down barriers for the future generations that follow behind them," Anna Beth Gorman, chair of the hall of fame's board and executive director of the Arkansas Women's Foundation, said in a news release.

The goal of the hall is to honor women whose contributions have influenced the direction of Arkansas in their community or the state. The North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce manages the event.

This year's inductees are:

Alice Andrews — a conservationist and a leading voice for environmental protection in Arkansas. She's worked to save the Buffalo River from damming and pollution. Her conservation efforts led to the preservation of land that would later pave the way for the River Trail, the Big Dam Bridge and the Two Rivers Bridge. 

Olivia Farrell — a publisher who blazed a trail for Arkansas women, building the Arkansas Times and Arkansas Business Publishing Group of Little Rock into two of the state's biggest independent multimedia companies. She has championed women in all fields, co-founding the Arkansas Women's Foundation, which works to ensure economic security for the state's women and girls. 

Jo Luck — as president and CEO of Heifer Project International, she led the organization's global program and helped expand programs to provide food security to impoverished people in the U.S. and more than 50 countries around the world. She also served as executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism for 10 years.

Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder — a journalist and member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for 14 years, she became the first woman president of the National Newspaper Association and served as president of seven different state and national journalism organizations. She was the lead sponsor of several bills enhancing the Freedom of Information Act, and lead sponsor of a bill creating the Arkansas Ethics Commission.

Carolyn Witherspoon — a director and founder of the firm Cross Gunter Witherspoon and Galchus. A prominent labor and employment attorney, she was the first woman to serve as president of the Arkansas Bar Association. She's supported and created organizations that serve and mentor women. Under her leadership, her firm has garnered many work-life balance awards and achieved majority female ownership. 

Historic inductees are:

Diane Frances Divers Kincaid Blair (1938-2000) as an educator, author, public servant, political scientist and ardent supporter of women's rights, she was a favorite professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She served as an adviser on the 1992 and 1996 Clinton-Gore presidential campaigns and also worked as official historian. Clinton appointed Blair to the board of directors of the U.S. Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She became chair and the boardroom was later named in her honor. 

Louise McPhetridge Thaden (1905-1979) as an aviation pioneer, Thaden became the first and only pilot to simultaneously hold the women's records for speed, altitude and solo endurance. She competed and won against Amelia Earhart and others in the first all-women's transcontinental race. In 1936, she and her co-pilot became the first women to win the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race. She was awarded the Harmon Trophy in 1937, the highest honor given to a female pilot. 

The organization is also inducting an organization, the Beta Pi Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Chartered in Little Rock in 1937, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's Beta Pi Omega Chapter is committed to providing assistance to families, students and organizations in the community. The chapter's 265 members spearhead service projects, health fairs, workshops, education programs, cleanups and fundraisers and donate their time and money to improving life for future generations.

The hall has inducted new members each year. The organization says nominees are not limited to a certain field or accomplishment and can include pioneers, philanthropists, educators, entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, business leaders and political figures.

Tickets to the induction ceremony can be purchased at ARWomensHallofFame.com

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[internal] => 0 [parent_id] => 0 [public] => 0 ) [11] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 33407 [name] => Banking & Finance [tag] => Banking & Finance [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 33390 [public] => 0 ) [12] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 33409 [name] => Construction [tag] => Construction [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 33390 [public] => 0 ) [13] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 33417 [name] => Manufacturing [tag] => Manufacturing [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 33390 [public] => 0 ) [14] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 33421 [name] => Real Estate [tag] => Real Estate [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 33390 [public] => 0 ) [15] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 33426 [name] => Tourism [tag] => Tourism [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 33390 [public] => 0 ) [16] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 33427 [name] => Transportation [tag] => Transportation [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 33390 [public] => 0 ) [17] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 33391 [name] => Print Edition [tag] => Print Edition [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 20254 [public] => 0 ) [18] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 33402 [name] => Spotlight [tag] => Spotlight [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 33391 [public] => 0 ) [19] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 33390 [name] => Industries [tag] => Industries [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 20254 [public] => 0 ) [20] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 20254 [name] => Arkansas Business [tag] => Arkansas Business [internal] => 1 [parent_id] => 0 [public] => 0 ) ) [title] => Conway Airport Meeting Expectations [summary] => Almost five years after it opened, the Conway Municipal Airport at Cantrell Field is living up to expectations, city and economic development officials say. [content] =>

Almost five years after it opened, the Conway Municipal Airport at Cantrell Field is living up to expectations, city and economic development officials say.

The first and most important of those was safety. The old airport, built in the 1930s, was inside the city just off Interstate 40 and was difficult to get in and out of. “There were a lot of aircraft that wouldn’t fly into our old airport because it was scary,” said Jack Bell, interim airport manager.

The new $35 million airport, which opened Sept. 1, 2014, comprises about 430 acres in an area called the Lollie Bottoms in the western part of the city near the Arkansas River.

The airport, which averages 40-50 operations per day, has two hangars for corporate aircraft, each housing two or three but has room for five more, Bell said. Among the corporate jets hangared there are those belonging to Green Bay Packaging, Home BancShares and Preferred Medical. The airport houses about 65 aircraft total.

All of the new airport’s T-hangars are full, said Mayor Bart Castleberry, with a waiting list of about 20. And fuel sales have seen a steady upward trajectory, rising from $623,000 in 2016 to $763,000 last year.

But the airport also has seen some negative publicity in the last few months, with the firings of Airport Manager Josh Zylks and Line Service Supervisor Brandy Parrott for what the city termed rules violations and dishonesty. Police have started a criminal investigation.

Jamie Gates, EVP of the Conway Development Corp., calls the airport a success, saying, “We’ve got capacity for growth, which is something we never had before. We’ve got facilities that meet and often exceed the expectations of people visiting Conway, which is something we never had.”

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Europe is still on my bucket list, so I’ll never see Notre Dame as she was before last Monday. But, as horrific as the flames looked against the Paris night, the dawn brought renewed hope that a landmark that is centuries older than our country can be restored.

Even before arson and terrorism were ruled out as causes for the fire, disappointing legions of eager online conspiracy theorists, philanthropists and corporations from around the world had pledged hundreds of millions of dollars and euros to help save an edifice that symbolized more than the human imperative to glorify God. Notre Dame is a showcase of technological innovation, of art and science in collaboration, of teamwork and, perhaps above all, of long-range vision.

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral and suggested that it could be done in five years. Experts say that timetable is unrealistically optimistic and was, perhaps, mainly intended as a rallying point to comfort a nation in mourning. Racing to rebuild seems almost contrary to the spirit in which the cathedral was originally constructed, taking nearly two centuries at a time — 1163-1345 — when a laborer had a life expectancy of about 45.

But the spirit of the 21st century is not just hurried. There seems to be an astonishing lack of vision or foresight, as if there is no tomorrow, much less generations and centuries to come. And there may not be; the Christians who built Notre Dame were also awaiting the Second Coming, but they kept building anyway.

This resistance to long-range planning is pervasive in every unit of our modern society. Families are woefully unprepared for predictable, inevitable expenses. As of 2017, according to the Federal Reserve, 40% of American adults didn’t have $400 set aside for an emergency. A study conducted for Northwestern Mutual a year ago found that one in five Americans had no retirement savings at all, and a third of baby boomers — all of them now at least 55 years old — had no more than $25,000 in retirement savings.

Institutions have also failed to plan for the long term. Who was in charge of thinking through the skills shortages and debt crisis that would result if the cost of higher education inflated far faster than wages for decades on end? Noted: We’re still spending vast sums on football palaces even as more and more parents are looking far enough into the future to consider that gridiron glory might not be worth the risk of CTE.

It’s almost piling on to point out how utterly lacking in vision American politics has become. Social Security, the most forward-looking of all entitlement programs, will deplete its trust fund in 2034, its 99th birthday, without congressional intervention. And while the fix is mathematically simple, it seems politically impossible to mandate more money in or less money out. (Depleting the trust fund is not the same as insolvency, but it’s definitely not a desirable position.)

On the other hand, our society does seem to put more emphasis on old folks who vote than on children who can’t vote right now. We also can’t seem to make infrastructure a priority, no matter how many presidential candidates run on it. It’s as if we know that we should be investing in the future, but we don’t want to sacrifice anything in the present.

Last Monday, the last day to file federal tax returns, the official Twitter account of Republicans in the U.S. Senate bragged about tax reform giving Americans “more freedom” to “decide how to spend their money” without acknowledging that this was accomplished by piling billions more in debt onto future generations. Ronald Reagan, whom Republicans used to revere before they found a shiny new leader whose morals and values they clearly prefer, called this “the temporary convenience of the present.”

Many prominent Republicans — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell among them — have accepted the idea that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it. We’ll never know whether it might have been mitigated if warnings like Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” had been heeded a decade and a half ago. (Despite the hoopla, the U.S. has not technically withdrawn from the Paris agreement on climate change, and can’t technically do so until the day after the 2020 presidential election.)

A couple of years ago, independent Arkansas journalist Steve Brawner wrote a beautiful column titled “Time for a new ‘ism’ — ‘future generationism,’” in which he suggested a political goal that all could share: “... that our descendants must always be a primary consideration, not an afterthought.”

Like the builders and rebuilders of Notre Dame, let us aspire to a better future, even if we won’t be here to see it.


Email Gwen Moritz, editor of Arkansas Business, at GMoritz@ABPG.com and follow her on Twitter at @gwenmoritz.
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Tyson Foods Inc.'s venture capital arm, Tyson Ventures, has sold its stake in plant-based protein startup Beyond Meat, regulatory filings show.

The sale was first reported by Axios' Pro Rata e-newsletter

Tyson, of Springdale, had invested about $23 million in the company. It purchased a 5 percent stake for $15 million in 2016, then added another 1.5 percent stake later that year for about $8 million.

Financial terms of the sale weren't available. In a statement, the meat processor said it was pleased with its investment and "the time is right to exit."

"Beyond Meat provided an early opportunity for Tyson Ventures to invest in plant-based protein products that many consumers are seeking. We wish the leadership of Beyond Meat all the best," the company said.

In its report, Axios noted that the sale comes ahead of Beyond Meat's planned initial public offering next week. It reported the IPO could value the company at more than $1 billion.

It also said "multiple sources" reported "tensions" between the two companies, "particularly after Tyson CEO Noel White said in February that the poultry giant would develop its own plant-based protein products."

In its statement, Tyson Foods noted its plans for its own plant-based products.

"Tyson Foods continues to be committed to providing alternative protein as a choice for consumers and recently announced the creation of a new business focused on combining our creativity, scale and resources to make great tasting protein alternatives more accessible for everyone," the company said. "We plan to launch an alternative protein product soon with market testing anticipated this summer."

Beyond Meat was the first high-profile investment by Tyson Ventures. Announced in October 2017, the deal was to give the company "exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market," and it fit with Tyson's goal of being a key global provider of protein of all kinds

Beyond Meat products include plant-based hamburger patties and chicken strips and single-serve prepared meals.

Tyson Ventures has continued invested in other firms. Earlier this month, it invested in Clear Labs Inc. of Menlo Park, California, a food testing and safety company.

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Greater Little Rock is steeped in military history. Gen. Douglas MacArthur was born here. The USS Razorback is docked on the North Little Rock shore of the Arkansas River. And Little Rock Air Force Base continues to be one of the area’s top employers. Here is a quick guide to some of the area’s top military attractions:

(All phone numbers are in the (501) area code unless otherwise noted.)

Arkansas National Guard Museum
Camp Robinson
North Little Rock/212-5215
www.arngmuseum.com
The ARNG museum tells the story of the Arkansas National Guard, from its militia roots to its participation in the current global war on terror. Displays include large scale models of the post in the WWI and WWII eras, weapons, vehicles, airplane models, uniforms and photographs. In addition, the museum chronicles the story of Archibald Yell, a former governor and the first Arkansas representatiive in the U.S. House of Representatives. Open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
503 E. Ninth St.
Little Rock/376-4602
www.arkmilitaryheritage.com
Housed in the historic Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History commemorates the state’s military history from the territorial period to the present. Permanent exhibits depict the Jeep’s impact on World War II, the history of the Little Rock Arsenal and the arsenal’s role during the Civil War. Admission is free. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum
120 Riverfront Park Drive
North Little Rock/371-8320
www.aimm.museum
Opened in 2005, the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum focuses on the submarine USS Razorback but also houses a research library, theater and large museum area. The museum features displays and programs on the impact of martime trade, the inland waterways system, the Arkansas River and Arkansas aquaculture. Group tours during the week can be arranged and school rates are available. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Winter hours are Friday-Sunday only.

Little Rock Air Force Base
U.S. Highway 67/167
Jacksonville/987-3601
www.littlerock.af.mil
This is the largest training and maintenance facility in the world for C-130 aircraft. Call for a tour or attend an open house. An air show is held each spring.

USS Razorback (SS 394)
120 Riverfront Park Drive
North Little Rock/ 371-8320
www.aimm.museum
Located at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, the USS Razorback was commissioned on April 3, 1944. A tour of USS Razorback takes visitors through the seven watertight compartments, where they learn about Razorback’s wartime service, her activities during the Cold War and Vietnam and her service in the Turkish Navy as TCG Muratreis. Visitors can see firsthand how submariners lived, where they slept next to their torpedoes, where they ate and where they worked. The tour is not recommended for children younger than 5.

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When Murphy Oil Corp. sold its Malaysian business to a Thai national petroleum company in March, leaders of the El Dorado exploration and production titan said it would use the $2 billion in proceeds for stock buybacks, debt reduction and "potential acquisitions."

One resulting acquisition was announced Tuesday morning, a $1.37 billion investment in offshore fields closer to home, the Gulf of Mexico.

Murphy (NYSE: MUR) agreed to purchase deepwater assets from LLOG Exploration Offshore and LLOG BlueWater Holdings. If certain fields exceed production thresholds over the next three years, Murphy may pay up to $200 million more. The deal was funded by cash on hand after its exit from Malaysia, in which it sold its assets to PTT Exploration & Production of Bangkok. At the time, an analysis by JP Research concluded that the success of the sale strategy would depend on "the reinvestment of inflows from the transaction."

The blocks involved in the deal include seven producing fields generating 38,000 barrel-of-oil equivalents, a company news release said. The company, which has about 1,100 employees, also said that it planned to forge ahead with a $500 million stock buyback program it announced in March.

In mid-morning Tuesday, Murphy stock was trading at $29.06, slightly down from the morning opening. Murphy CEO Roger Jenkins discussed the Gulf acquisition in a company statement. 

"This immediately accretive transaction continues to strengthen our Gulf of Mexico portfolio by adding quality assets at a very attractive price," he said. "We expect these newly acquired assets to generate meaningful cash flow over the next several years that will provide us with additional flexibility for future capital allocation."

Jenkins said the purchase reflects a long-term reshaping of the iconic Arkansas oil company. 

"Since selling our refining business and successfully spinning-out our retail gasoline business [now Murphy USA] five years ago, we have implemented significant strategic changes in revamping Murphy's portfolio," he said.

Jenkins cited the widening of Murphy's Gulf footprint and the divestment in Malaysia, saying the strategies had created significant cash flow and value for shareholders. "Murphy is now positioned to grow oil production with an overall compound annual growth rate of seven to nine percent, all while maintaining our compelling dividend, repurchasing our stock, and decreasing our debt levels."

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Skylar Hatfield is no stranger to the trucking industry even at the age of 24.

Hatfield was recently hired to be the director of safety services by the Arkansas Trucking Association. She replaces David O’Neal, who resigned from the ATA in March to become vice president of safety at Roadrunner Transportation Services in Little Rock.

She had been working at Central Hauling, a subsidiary of CalArk of Little Rock.

While a student at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Hatfield was one of four college students named to the ATA’s 40 Under 40 Council in 2016 to inject some young life into the industry. Hatfield served two years on the council and graduated from UCA with a degree in logistics and supply chain management.

Hatfield’s appreciation and love for trucking come naturally. Her father, Loren, is a driver with ABF Freight in North Little Rock and was named the ATA’s state Driver of the Year in 2015. He has driven nearly 3 million accident-free miles in his career.

“We always joked that I didn’t really want to be a truck driver myself, but the industry is something that is very interesting to me,” Hatfield said. “I have been around it my whole life.”

When Loren Hatfield was studying for written exams for the state truck driving championship, Skylar Hatfield would ride in the cab and quiz her father as he drove. Doug Voss, an associate professor at UCA, taught Skylar Hatfield at UCA and called her an “exceptional student.”

“I would love to see the person who cares more about safety, and is more knowledgeable, than a girl whose father drives a truck and helped him study for exams where every question directly or indirectly deals with safety principles,” said Voss, also a member of the ATA board of directors. “Skylar is one of the most qualified, tough, knowledgeable individuals in our industry.”

When O’Neal decided to leave, he contacted Hatfield and told her about the job opening. He thought she would be perfect for the position. Hatfield later met with O’Neal and ATA President Shannon Newton and was hired at the start of April.

O’Neal came to the ATA in 2016 after the organization used a grant from the Arkansas Commercial Truck Safety & Education Program to start an Arkansas Road Team, which is a group of 12 drivers who act as goodwill ambassadors and make appearances around the state.

Loren Hatfield was an original captain on the first Arkansas Road Team.

As director of safety services, Hatfield said, her duties will be to keep current on laws and regulations in the trucking industry and to oversee the safety outreach programs such as the Arkansas Road Team.

“I’m pretty familiar with regulation, but it is always changing,” Skylar Hatfield said. “Getting to learn about it firsthand and be more involved with different committees has been a privilege. I’m learning more how everything is done.”

It is the same type of material Hatfield studied and learned in college. And like most recent graduates, she is learning even more stuff on the job.

Hatfield said working at the Arkansas Trucking Association puts her at the “forefront” of the industry and in a position to help drivers and companies in areas of safety.

“There are certain aspects that you learn in college,” Hatfield said. “Like everything else, it is completely different once you get out there and [learn] firsthand. I’ve been around the association for a very long time, and I’m familiar with the employees up here and it is appealing knowing what they have done.”

There is little doubt that Hatfield’s name helped get her started in the industry. Skylar Hatfield said her father regularly told her, after she decided to make trucking her career, that he could help her with his connections and network of people built over a long career.

Once she started, though, he told her it was going to be up to her.

“It’s funny because I will call my dad all the time and we talk about things,” Hatfield said. “We talk about hours of service and regulations all the time. My mom, poor thing, is left out a lot because she isn’t in any of the conversations. She tries, but it just doesn’t happen.”

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[content] =>

If you automatically turn first to Whispers, as a lot of readers do, you’ll need to circle back to this week's cover story on future plans for Capital Bank of Little Rock, soon to be renamed Encore Bank.

Two of its new executives, CEO Chris Roberts and COO and General Counsel Burt Hicks, came directly from Simmons Bank (or, in Hicks’ case, Simmons First Investment Group).

But theirs aren’t the only recent resignations Simmons has received. Seven others, commercial lenders and treasury management professionals, left Simmons to help Citizens Bank of Batesville beef up its Little Rock operations.

They are Vernon Scott, Anastasia Blaylock, Lisa Hendrixson, Mel Hutchins, Josh Baker, Katheryn Pannell and Dale Nash.

Phil Baldwin, CEO of Citizens Bank, confirmed the hires and hastened to add, “They approached us about the opportunity.”

Currently, Citizens has only one office in Little Rock. It’s a full-service branch, but it’s on the third floor of the Euronet Worldwide Building at 17300 Chenal Parkway, so it’s not designed to attract retail bank customers.

Baldwin, who will host Gov. Asa Hutchinson at the grand opening of Citizens’ new headquarters building in Batesville next week, said more branches in the Little Rock market are on the drawing board — “four or five over a period of time.”

Something similar happened in late 2014: Citizens hired 10 employees from Southern Bancorp Bank in Hot Springs when it was staffing for its expansion there. Citizens opened two Hot Springs branches in 2015 and a third last month at 1698 Higdon Ferry Road.

Shine On
Encore isn’t the only new bank name you need to learn.

With absolutely no fanfare, the Bank of Star City renamed itself Connect Bank as of March 25, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Connect Bank is No. 77 on this week’s list of Arkansas banks ranked by assets as of Dec. 31. It earned $1.9 million last year.

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