Leadership is the critical ingredient in making everything work together harmoniously. Without it, all other business resources are ineffective. The chief executive officer of a company is vital in providing that all-important leadership, especially in companies whose health is measured on the stock exchange. The individuals in this section are tasked with guiding their companies across these perilous waters. The endeavors of these men and women help steer the growth of our state’s economy.
Roger W. Jenkins was elected president and CEO of Murphy Oil Corporation in 2013. He joined Murphy in 2001, quickly climbing through the ranks, serving in various leadership capacities. Jenkins earned a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Louisiana State University in 1983. He received an MBA in finance from Tulane University in 1994, and has also completed the advanced management program at Harvard Business School.
Jeffrey A. Williams is president and CEO of America’s Car-Mart, and has served in that position since January of this year. Before his promotion, Williams served as president of the company since March of 2016, as well as chief financial officer. As a certified public accountant, Williams has also worked for a number of years with accounting firms in Tulsa and Dallas.
Doug McMillon is president and CEO of Walmart, having worked for the company since the 1980s, starting as an hourly associate in a Walmart distribution center. McMillon served as president and CEO of Sam’s Club before being named president and CEO of Walmart International, serving from 2009 to 2014. An Arkansas native, McMillon graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor of science in business administration. He earned his MBA from the University of Tulsa.
Andrew Clyde is president and CEO of Murphy USA, and has been since the summer of 2013. Clyde comes to the El Dorado-based company from Dallas, where he served as managing partner of its Dallas office since 2007. Clyde earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Southern Methodist University, before earning a master’s in management with distinction from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Judy R. McReynolds is chairman, president and CEO of ArcBest Corporation. McReynolds has served as chairman of the board since April 2016. For more than 27 years, she has been a leader in the world of logistics and transportation. She puts that valuable experience to work every day at ArcBest, where she is responsible for managing the multibillion dollar logistics solution provider. McReynolds, a certified public accountant, holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Oklahoma.
Rich Howe is an accomplished executive, entrepreneur and patented inventor who has built a number of successful technology businesses, both big and small, across three continents. At 16 billion transactions daily, his current company, Inuvo, Inc. is pushing the machine learning boundaries within advertising. He’s in his happy place when he has a tough problem to solve, and his message for young leaders is to make learning your lifelong pursuit.
William T. Dillard II is the chairman and CEO of Dillard’s, one of the largest department store chains in the nation. Dillard joined the board of directors in 1967. He became president and COO in 1977. He has served as CEO since 1998. Dillard earned a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Arkansas, before receiving an MBA from Harvard Business School.
George Gleason has served for 39 years as chairman and chief executive officer of Bank of the Ozarks and its predecessor institutions. Gleason purchased controlling interest in what was then known as Bank of Ozark in 1979. He was just 25 years old. During his 39 years as chairman and CEO, the company has grown over 750-fold and now has 253 offices in 10 states and total assets of more than $21 billion.
Tony Thomas is president and chief executive officer of Windstream. He was appointed to the position in December 2014. Thomas has more than 20 years of experience in the communications industry. He was instrumental in the development of Windstream’s REIT spinoff and served as president of real estate investment trust operations at Windstream from October to December 2014.
Tracy M. French was appointed to serve as a director of Home BancShares and as chief executive officer and president of Centennial Bank in January 2015. Prior to that time, French served as a regional president for Centennial Bank. He was the president and chief executive officer and a director of a former bank subsidiary, Community Bank. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University.
Kenny Gunderman is president and chief executive officer of Uniti Group, Inc. He has 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and is focused on growing Uniti’s real estate portfolio of mission critical communications infrastructure. He has prior experience at Stephens, Lehman Brothers and KPMG. Gunderman holds a bachelor of arts degree from Hendrix College and an MBA from Yale. He advises young leaders to be humble, honestly embrace their strengths and weaknesses, and work hard.
When George A. Makris, Jr. joined Simmons in January 2013, it had operations in three states and total consolidated assets of approximately $3.5 billion. Today, the company stretches across a seven-state footprint with $15.1 billion in consolidated assets. Makris believes what ultimately makes Simmons successful is its community banking philosophy. Makris’ advice to young leaders is to surround yourself with smart team members and be open-minded and willing to consider new ways of doing things.
James Reed joined USA Truck in November 2016, bringing more than two decades of multi-faceted experience in trucking, logistics, finance and business development. He previously served as chief financial officer of Interstate Distributor Company (an asset-based trucking business), as well as president of its subsidiary, Interstate Distributor Logistics. He joined Interstate in 2012 and served for a time as its senior vice president, sales, with full accountability for the company’s revenue growth and strategic account development.
John N. Roberts III is the president and chief executive officer of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. and serves on the company’s board of directors. Before this appointment in 2011, Roberts served the company as executive vice president and president of its Dedicated Contract Services (DCS) division for more than 13 years. In 1988, Roberts received a bachelor’s of science in business administration from the University of Arkansas and began his career with J.B. Hunt as a manager trainee.
A 30-year consumer products veteran, Tom Hayes has led Tyson, the largest food company in the U.S., since 2016. Early in his role, he laid out the company’s purpose to raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do, and he now leads 122,000 team members in that pursuit. Hayes appreciates how the size and scale of Tyson Foods creates a tremendous opportunity to make a positive difference in the world.
Mitchell Johnson is president and CEO of Ozarks Electric Cooperative, a 2014 inductee to the Palladium Executing Strategy Hall of Fame and president of OzarksGo. He was named to the position in 1999 after previously serving the company as vice president of administrative services. Under Johnson’s innovative leadership, Ozarks Electric launched Arkansas’ first utility-scale, member-owned solar energy generating facility, and OzarksGo, a 100-percent owned Ozarks Electric subsidiary.