Joe Ford began his career in telecommunications at Allied Telephone Company in 1959 as a yellow pages salesman. He served in a number of executive positions before becoming Allied president in 1977. When Allied merged with Mid-Continent Telephone Corporation in 1983 to form ALLTEL Corporation, he was named ALLTEL's president. Ford became CEO in 1987 and chairman of the board in 1981.
He received a bachelor's degree from the former UA College of Business Administration in 1959. He also was active in government and civic affairs, serving in the Arkansas Senate from 1967 to 1982. Ford led ALLTEL Corporation through one of the most intense eras of change in the telecommunications, including deregulation of the telephone industry and the growth of wireless communications. Over the past several decades, Ford executed more than 250 mergers and acquisitions. He served as a director for The Dial Corporation and Textron Inc. and as a trustee for City Education Trust.
A media entrepreneur, Donald W. Reynolds created in his lifetime one of the nation's largest privately held media companies, the Donrey Media Group. In 1927, with $1,000 in capital (part of which he borrowed), Reynolds invested in his first business enterprise, a photo engraving plant. From the profits of this venture, he purchased and then sold what was to be his first newspaper, the Quincy Evening News in Massachusetts. Over the next fifty years, Reynolds would buy more than 100 businesses primarily, in the newspaper, radio, television, cable and outdoor advertising industries. His acquisition policy was to find potential in businesses that were located in small, but growth-oriented communities.
Upon his death, a substantial bequest from his estate provided his previously formed charitable foundation with an endowment. In 1996, the Reynolds Foundation awarded the Walton College a grant for $7.4 million to build the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development. The Arkansas Business Hall of Fame is housed there.
In 1918, Harvey Jones bought an old Springfield wagon and two mules and started hauling goods from town to town. He was soon running an intercity "dray" business (a horse-drawn delivery service). In 1919, Jones managed to earn enough money to trade his wagon and mules for a used, slightly faster, hard-tire Federal truck, thus founding Jones Transportation Company. By 1949, he had led the company to become the largest privately-owned trucking carrier in the country. In 1980 after doing $80 million of business, Jones sold what had become Jones Truck Lines.
Through the years, Jones provided strong leadership and made huge contributions to his community, which continue to benefit citizens of Arkansas. His time, efforts, gifts and grants covered many areas such as schools for special children, vocational training schools, medical research centers, medical and general education centers and the development of local and regional library facilities.
Don J. Tyson took his father's local poultry production company from sales of $1 million in 1952 to the world's largest poultry producer with sales of almost $8 billion internationally. Tyson joined the company in 1952 and made his mark on the family business in 1965 when he persuaded his father to introduce the Rock Cornish game hen as a specialty item at a flat rate of 50 cents per bird.
After his father's death in 1967, Tyson took over the company with his half-brother Randall. At that time, Tyson Foods controlled less than two percent of the U.S. chicken market. In 1998, as the nation's leading poultry supplier, Tyson Foods, Inc., controlled 28 percent of the market with $7.4 billion in sales. Then the Tyson team numbered 70,000 worldwide, operating 70 food-processing plants in 17 states. Tyson's philanthropy to northwest Arkansas, both directly and indirectly, impacts the lives of most residents of the area everyday.