ArcBest exec to join Arkansas Business Hall of Fame

Judy McReynolds, chief executive officer of Fort Smith-based ArcBest Corp., gives a few remarks at a press conference at the Fort Smith Convention Center in this May 30, 2014 file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Anthony Reyes)

An executive with ArcBest Corp. joins three other long-time business leaders as inductees into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame for their accomplishments in the finance, auto parts, transportation, timber and investment sectors.

The induction ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The Hall of Fame is supervised by the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

"The newest Hall of Fame inductees elevate Arkansas as a pacesetter in the finance, auto parts, transportation, timber and investment worlds," Matt Waller, dean of the college, said in a statement announcing the new members. "These four leaders help distinguish Arkansas as the right place for business, community and innovation."

The executives are:

• ArcBest Corp. leader Judy McReynolds, who is chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Fort Smith transportation and logistics provider. McReynolds left the accounting sector, where she specialized in the transportation and logistics sectors, to join ArcBest in 1997 and has led several acquisitions that have grown the company. In 2010, she was named president and CEO of the nearly 100-year-old firm and was elected as chairman in 2016. She is the only member of the company's senior management team who serves on the board of directors.

• Little Rock native Curt Bradbury, chief operating officer at Stephens Inc., was with the firm from 1972-1985 before rejoining the investment bank and being named COO in 1995. After leaving Stephens in 1985, Bradbury led Worthen Banking Corp. as chief executive officer and is largely credited with saving the Little Rock financial institution while it was submerged under faulty loans. The bank returned to profitability under Bradbury and in 1994 it was acquired by St. Louis-based Boatmen's Bancshares. That entity today is Bank of America, the second-largest bank in the U.S.

• E. Fletcher Lord Jr., chairman of Bumper to Bumper/Crow-Burlingame Co., started with the company as a delivery driver in the 1960s. The Little Rock auto-parts provider was founded more than 100 years ago and has grown into the nation's second-largest privately-owned auto parts provider. Lord was named president in 1975 and today serves as chairman of the board. The company operates more than 300 retail locations in 12 states and has 2,000 employees.

• Ross Whipple, president and chief executive officer of Horizon Capital Partners and president of Horizon Timber Services. The Arkadelphia-based companies are wholly owned by the Whipple family with no outside investors. For more than 40 years, Whipple has invested in timber, banking and other long-term projects. He has managed and grown the family's timberland investments, leading an expansion of holdings from 500 acres to about 70,000 acres. The Ross Foundation, also led by Whipple, owns about 64,000 acres of timberland. Whipple joined Merchant and Planters Bank of Arkadelphia in 1979 and led the lender through several mergers and acquisitions to create Horizon Bank, which is now part of US Bank. He founded Summit Bancorp Inc. in 2000, which is now Little Rock-based Bank OZK.

Inductees are selected by a 10-member committee comprised of a diverse group of business and community leaders who are appointed on a rotating basis. Four Arkansas business leaders are selected each year to join the hall.