Joe Ford, co-founder and chairman of Westrock Coffee Co. of Little Rock, will receive the Legacy of Leadership Award at the 36th Arkansas Business of the Year ceremony on Feb. 21.
Each year, Arkansas Business honors its Legacy of Leadership award recipient, a title reserved for leaders who have made a unique impact on the state, as part of its Arkansas Business of the Year Awards program.
Ford, who co-founded Westrock with his son, Scott, has played a key role in the development of Westrock as a vertically integrated coffee company that now supports more than one million members of smallholder farming households. Ford also serves as chairman of Westrock Group LLC.
Ford began his career in telecommunications at Allied Telephone Company in Little Rock, becoming Allied’s president in 1977 and subsequently the chairman of Alltel Corp., a provider of wireless voice and data communications services. He is a 2000 inductee into the University of Arkansas’ Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.
Ford serves on the board of directors of Westrock Coffee Co. and Westrock Asset Management. He previously served on the board of directors for the Dial Corp., Duke Energy Company, Eltek, ASA, Beverly Enterprises Co., En Pro Industries, Textron Inc., and the United States Chamber of Commerce.
Arkansas Business will honor Ford and the Arkansas Business of the Year finalists at an awards ceremony from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. The event is presented by The Hatcher Agency and UnitedHealthcare.
Finalists and winners were selected by an outside panel of judges made up of previous award winners. Arkansas Business of the Year awards will be distributed in categories including Nonprofit Organization of the Year.
Past recipients of the Legacy of Leadership award include Mack McLarty, chairman of The McLarty Companies and onetime White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton; longtime Little Rock businessman and community leader Sherman Tate; billionaire businesswoman and philanthropist Johnelle Hunt; former banker and restaurant franchise owner Wallace Fowler; and former Simmons First National Corp. CEO J. Thomas “Tommy” May.