Delbert E. Allen, Sr. took a small Ozark regional canning operation and built it into one of the largest privately held vegetable canning facilities in the United States. He established Allen Canning Company plants in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, and Oklahoma. Allen expanded the company's product mix and set up a fleet of trucks for fast delivery to the retail and food service customers. Allen Canning, known especially for its Southern canned vegetables, continues today to work with family-based farming operations in the cultivation, planting and harvesting of vegetables.
Born in 1919, Allen began working at an early age in his father's tomato canning plant in Siloam Springs. By the age of 17, he was managing the financial end of the company. After his father's untimely death in 1948, Allen took over operations of the company. He built a sales and marketing department, developed branded products and established a generous profit-sharing program for all employees.
In 1960, Allen founded Arkansas State Bank, now Liberty Bank of Arkansas. He worked extensively with and supported many organizations for the youth, elderly and underprivileged, including Siloam Springs Memorial Hospital and the Siloam Springs Children Center. Allen died in 1988.
Kenneth Pat Wilson organized Jacksonville State Bank in 1949 so that his community would have a bank. Today the bank is known as First Arkansas Bank & Trust.
Another major accomplishment was his effort to bring the Little Rock Air Force Base to Jacksonville by serving on the Pulaski County Committee of 100 businessmen. After the location was selected in 1952, he served as president of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council. He was active in the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce for almost 30 years and worked to obtain natural gas, water and sewer services.
Wilson was born in Jacksonville, Ark. He attended the University of Arkansas. After serving in World War II, he returned to Fayetteville to receive a degree from the Walton College in 1946. He was a life-long advocate for the University of Arkansas and the Razorbacks. In 1999, he and his wife Ruth made a $2.4 million gift to the University of Arkansas Chancellor's Scholarship Program. Wilson was dedicated to Jacksonville's economic growth, enhanced civic services, educational resources and recreational opportunities. He also served Central Arkansas through leadership on many commissions as well as on the boards of many corporations.
Thelma L. Joshua and the late Ernest P. "Josh" Joshua, Sr. founded one of the largest manufacturers of ethnic hair care products in the United States. J.M. Products is also the largest African American-owned company in the State of Arkansas. The Joshuas overcame many challenges to create an international business, distributing their products through the world's largest retail organizations.
Both Arkansans by birth, Ernest and Thelma married in 1949 and moved to Chicago. Realizing an untapped market for ethnic hair care products, Ernest got a business degree from Cortez Peters Business College and took chemistry courses at the University of Chicago. The family moved to California where they started J.M. Products. In the mid 70s, they returned to Arkansas where J.M. Products took off. Manufacturing facilities are now located in Little Rock and North Little Rock with joint venture operations in Jamaica and Africa.
The Joshuas were the first Arkansas people to be honored at the White House by Ronald Reagan for their achievements as small business people. Bill Clinton invited Ernest to participate in the first ever U.S. Trade Mission to South Africa in 1994. Ernest and Thelma have worked tirelessly to create opportunities for other African Americans through their community contributions and involvement.
Albert R. Yarnell is a patriarch of the country's ice cream industry. He is recognized as an industry innovator and has established business relationships with such brands as Nestlé, Dreyer's and Häagen Dazs. In 1978, he personally created the nation's first all natural ice milk and led the team that invented the nation's first non-fat, no-sugar-added ice cream in 1990. Yarnell Ice Cream Co. has eleven distribution centers, serving 3,500 outlets as well as the food service industry. Yarnell served on the board of the International Ice Cream Association for 18 years.
He was born in 1923 in Searcy, Ark. At the age of 12, he began working for his father who had purchased a bankrupt dairy during the Depression. Following service in World War II, he attended the University of Missouri and then joined the family ice cream company in 1948. He became chairman in 1985. Under his direction, Yarnell's developed a nationally recognized, sophisticated direct store distribution system. Among his many civic involvements, Yarnell was board chairman for Baptist Health in 1987-88 and continues as a member of the Baptist Health Corporation. He also has served on the board of the State Chamber of Commerce since 1970.