Scott Cole, 47
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Texarkana
You might say Scott Cole was born to work for Cooper Tire. Cole and the company grew up in Findlay, Ohio, where Cole was born and Cooper made its headquarters. A graduate of the University of Toledo with a master’s degree from the University of Findlay, Cole manages Cooper’s factory in Texarkana, which employs nearly 2,000 workers and rolled out its 350 millionth tire in 2013. Cole joined Cooper in 1989 when he was barely out of his teens, and has spent all but 10 years since with the company, eighth on Arkansas Business’ 2015 ranking of manufacturers by employment. The 2 million-SF plant is the size of roughly 10 Wal-Mart Supercenters and produces light truck, SUV, automobile and winter tires.
MaryEmily Slate, 51
Vice President and General Manager
MaryEmily Slate knows the steel business from bottom to top. She started in the industry as a 19-year-old receptionist and worked her way up as an office clerk, sales representative, sales manager and then operations manager. She now leads two Nucor mills in Mississippi County after a stint in a similar post in Auburn, New York. Nucor, ninth on the Arkansas Business list of the state’s large manufacturers, provides 1,650 direct jobs in northeast Arkansas, according to the company. “It is satisfying to be able to make a product that you know will be used not only in iconic projects like One World Trade Center and Yankee Stadium,” Slate says, “but also in the house you live in or even the car you drive.”
David Stickler, 55
Big River Steel, Osceola
David Stickler was in shock in August when he took over the biggest economic development project in state history — construction of the Big River Steel mill outside Osceola in Mississippi County, a $700 million construction job that broke ground in September 2014. His friend John Correnti, the previous CEO, had died unexpectedly on a business trip. Two days later, Stickler, a member of the company’s board and chief administrative officer, was named CEO. The Big River plant, still under construction on a 1,300-acre site, is expected to employ 450. Stickler earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and holds a degree in accounting from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Senior Vice President and General Manager
Dassault Falcon Jet, Little Rock
Antoine Ajarrista is general manager of Dassault Falcon Jet’s manufacturing operation in Little Rock, overseeing the production of Falcon Jet aircraft models. Before taking the job in 2012, he worked for three and a half years as senior vice president of operational control in Little Rock. Before coming to Little Rock, Ajarrista was production director at Dassault's Bordeaux-Merignac facility, where he was responsible for military programs. Ajarrista, who joined the company in 1987, holds a master of science degree in engineering from the Ecole Centrale de Paris. Dassault Falcon Jet is one of the largest manufacturers in the state, providing 1,750 jobs.
Ronald Tucker, 58
President and CEO
Baldor Electric Co., Fort Smith
Ronald Tucker succeeded John A. McFarland as chief of Baldor Electric, a subsidiary of Swiss power and technology company ABB, on New Year’s Day 2011. At the time, he had been with the maker of industrial electric motors for more than 24 years. His many jobs at the company, which ranks fourth on Arkansas Business’ list of the largest manufacturers in the state based on number of employees, included stints in finance, manufacturing and international sales and operations. The company, which also makes mechanical power transmission products and adjustable-speed drives, had 2,200 employees in 2015.
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