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Arkansas Business: Best Quotes of 2012

8 min read

From John L. Smith’s pep talk to reporters to U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson’s withering remarks to out-of-line prosecutors, they said it all in 2012.

“Smile! Smile! … If not, I’m not talking.”

— Interim Razorbacks football coach John L. Smith in a pre-press conference outburst on the Monday prior to the Rutgers game in September, a bizarre performance that made more sense after the news that his younger brother died that day

“Hugh and Gus probably ought to pay a 10 percent finder’s fee to Ryan Aplin.”

— Gov. Mike Beebe, reacting to the loss of head coach Gus Malzahn a year after he was hired to replace Hugh Freeze. Aplin played quarterback for Freeze and Malzahn, and was Sun Belt Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012

“And whoever convinced the newspaper industry to give away all their news — where were the adults in the room?”

— Warren Stephens, CEO of Stephens Inc. and investor in two newspaper chains, Stephens Media and Halifax Media Group

“The thing that kills development is debt.”

— Joe Whisenhunt, CEO of Whisenhunt Investment Group, on the perils of leveraged real estate

“People are pretty stunned, but at the same time, some people aren’t shocked.”

— Allison “Breezy” Osborne-Wingfield on the collapse of her family’s fortune after the death of her philanthropic father, Jennings Osborne

“I guess he didn’t like the questions I was asking.”

— Jim Penick III on why fellow attorney John Everett punched him during a testy deposition

“I remember we went in and sat at folding Formica-topped tables. And they provided you lunch, but if you wanted a cup of coffee or Coke, you went over and put a dime — it was a dime then — in the vending machine. They didn’t pay for your soft drinks; they gave you a sandwich.”

— Warren Stephens on attending Wal-Mart Stores Inc. board of directors meetings with his father, Jack, in the 1970s

“I have come to learn there are two things one cannot change: Mother Nature and the rules of capitalism.”

— Jim Gaston, owner of Gaston’s White River Resort in Lake View

“You’ve got to understand, my folks have been battling here for over 150 years. Why do I stay? Who knows? It’s almost in my DNA not to go anywhere.”

— U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, on why he still lives in Helena-West Helena, four blocks from where his great-grandfather, a former slave named Abraham Miller, moved during the Civil War

“This concession falls a tad shy of an unalloyed concession; but it does indicate that the Government understands that its procedure was inappropriate.”

— U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson, in reconsidering his sanctions against federal prosecutors for unilateral manipulations in the case of former USA Drug executive Garret Sorensen

“I learned the game of hardball real fast.”

— Jonesboro developer Bruce Burrow on an unnamed bank that came after him for loans to various LLCs that he had personally guaranteed. Burrow filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August and listed $17.27 million in debts against $14.1 million in assets.

“As I said to the deans the other day, this doesn’t mean that Brad’s a bad person. … But you really can’t amass this kind of deficit and survive it.”

— UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart on the reassignment of Vice Chancellor Brad Choate, who had overspent the Division of University Advancement by more than $3 million in 2011-12 and was on track to overspend by almost $4.4 million in the current fiscal year

“A few letters on the jug. That’s all it is.”

— Mike Flagg, general manager of Coleman Dairy, on the rebranding of the 150-year-old company by owner Hiland Dairy

“We have not abandoned these audacious ambitions.”

— Arkansas State University Chancellor Tim Hudson on pushing forward with a $22 million facilities plan after football coach Gus Malzahn left for Auburn after one season

“If you’re a teetotaler, you’re not going to start drinking just because there’s a store near you.”

— Stan Hastings, CEO of alcohol distributor Moon Distributors of Little Rock, on the drinking habits of residents in dry counties that recently turned wet

“You have to take it as a compliment.”

— U.S. Pizza Co. founder Judy Waller on former employees who have started competing pizzarias

“When the world ended in 2008, we had to go out and diversify ourselves.”

— Sam Alley, CEO of VCC, on the general contractor’s move to survive and thrive in the post-recession market

“There was a method to our madness and why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

— Johnny Allison, chairman and founder of Conway’s Centennial Bank, on the bank’s FDIC-assisted expansion into Florida and the Alabama Gulf Coast

“I got into this business when I was 20. Now I’m 35 and if I had to do it all over again, it wouldn’t be in Arkansas.”

— Audrey House, founder of Chateau Aux Arc winery in Altus

“1) Family is always more important than business; 2) You don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room; and 3) Never, never, never borrow money using a swap to fix the interest rate.”

— Burt Hanna, founder of Hanna’s Candles of Fayetteville, on the three things he wishes he’d known before starting his company in 1987

“With Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, she has placed a daring bet that a small town can become a big art-world destination. We’re betting she’s right.”

— Time magazine in naming Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton to its 2012 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World

“I think the separation makes eminent sense. It’s an odd combination to have an [exploration and production] company that also owns gas stations. For investors … having this fuel marketing business is just confusing.”

— Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov, speaking on Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado spinning off its subsidiary, Murphy Oil USA Inc., into its own separate publicly traded company

“We’re on the bottom, but at least we aren’t looking for a new bottom at the moment.”

— Aubra Anthony, president and CEO of Anthony Forest Products of El Dorado

“Sam would have been furious about how much data they share with the world.”

— Charles Fishman, author of “The Wal-Mart Effect,” on how the retail giant’s founder would view the company’s public reporting on its sustainability efforts

“The obligation is beyond our ability to handle, to be frank.”

— Pine Bluff Finance Director Steve Miller on the city fire and police pension funds that ended 2011 with $36.8 million in unfunded liabilities

“That was just a one-time, lucky deal.”

— Phillips County farmer Michael Taylor on the sky-high prices of 2011 that encouraged Arkansas farmers to start planting peanuts for the first time in decades

“With email and all the other technology changes, clients expect a lot, and they expect it sooner, faster, better. We have attorneys that are able to essentially practice 24/7 wherever they are in the world.”

— Harry Hamlin, managing director of Little Rock law firm Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard

“People feel like investing in farmland is very safe and very secure. You can grow stuff on it. You can get buried on it. You can get back to the basics.”

— Tommy Drew, Little Rock real estate broker specializing in agri and hunting properties, on the growing popularity and value of Arkansas farmland

“During 2009, that was really the worst year in terms of the recession. We consider that year to be the worst recession since the Great Depression. And its impact on our business was very dramatic.”

— Judy McReynolds, CEO of Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith

“Smith was not duped into signing the Notes, but instead had sufficient time to read the agreements, ask questions and/or seek legal counsel regarding the documents’ terms.”

— Jefferson Circuit (Ky.) Judge Audra Eckerle in a February ruling that prompted Razorbacks football coach John L. Smith to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection on $40.7 million in debts against $1.3 million in assets

“We really believe to achieve the societal goals of better health care and lower costs that we really need to see some fundamental changes in the health care system.”

— UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, explaining the reason for exploring a partnership with St. Vincent Health System

“The most exciting new city I’ve discovered in the past two years of global travel was Little Rock.”

— British author and travel writer Pico Iyer in a March 2012 article for Bloomberg BusinessWeek titled “Ballad of the Road Warrior — The secret pleasures of the business trip”

“There’s no firm deal in place, but nobody gives something for nothing.”

— Conway defense attorney Frank Shaw, on his client Jon Brawner’s motive for telling police that he knew where missing construction executive John Glasgow’s body was buried

“He will lie to your face even when he doesn’t have to.”

— Jim Daven of Menifee, the target of a botched kidnapping attempt masterminded by Brawner, his former employee

“We could easily have twice as many deposits as we have today. But the key is, you have to have a place to invest those deposits, either in the bond market or loans. It doesn’t make you any money to pay 40 or 50 basis points to have deposits and not have any place to put it.”

— CFO Greg McKinney on why Bank of the Ozarks has allowed total deposits to decline

“I just don’t don’t think anyone is that rotten.”

— Retired Judge Robin Mays, administrator in the 10-year-old probate case of M. David Howell, on why she doesn’t believe the Little Rock financier deliberately set out to create a Ponzi scheme

“This concession falls a tad shy of an unalloyed concession; but it does indicate that the Government understands that is procedure was inappropriate.”

— U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson, in granting U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer’s request that he reconsider sanctions issued against federal prosecutors for unilateral manipulations in the case of USA Drug executive Garret Sorensen

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