Feature: 2016 AY’s Powerful Men

 

AY’s 2016 Powerful Men have benefited their communities through their dedication, innovation and a good amount of sweat equity.

Photography by Sara Edwards Neal, Cindy Momchilov and Janet Warlick

 

While they serve our state in high-profile positions, oftentimes their service and philanthropic work is performed quietly and without ceremony. So it is our privilege to spotlight the 2016 Class of Powerful men.


B A N K I N G

Don Gooch

Hot Springs
Community Bank President
Arvest Bank

Don  Gooch is president of the Hot Springs Community Bank for Arvest Bank. He joined the company in 2001 in Oklahoma City as a business development officer and became president of Arvest Bank in Duncan, Oklahoma, before becoming president in 2008 in Hot Springs, where there are 60 employees serving in six branches with more than $285 million in assets.

Gooch gives back to the community in several ways, including as chairman of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Board, as a board member of the Hot Springs Metro Partnership, and as former chair of Walk for Kids, benefiting the Ann and Nick Tillman project for First Step.

He and wife Dana have two children.

One word that describes you: Dynamic

Hometown: Enid, Oklahoma.

Childhood Nickname: Gooch.

What attracted you to your career? The chance to help people achieve their dreams.

First job: Mutual fund sales for Fidelity Investments.

First big break: I played golf with an Arvest associate and was introduced to the Arvest family 15 years ago.

Hobby: Singing.

Volunteer Work: Hot Springs Sister City Foundation, vice chair 2016; Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, 2016 chair; First Step, Walk for Kids chairman; Metro Partnership, past chair; Chamber of Commerce, 2016 treasurer; and Ouachita Children’s Center, Mardi Gras Fundraising Honoree 2016.

What you love about what you do: People helping people — I love to help people, and these are actually the first three words to the Arvest mission statement.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Besides marrying my wife and raising my two beautiful daughters, I am most proud of being named the 2015 Shamrock King for the 1st Ever 12th annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. While it was a very fun duty, it also shows that there are people in the community who really value me, and it felt great!

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I was the half-time entertainment for two NBA All-Star games. My college fraternity had a “Blues Brothers” Dance act, and I got to perform in Dallas and Seattle. It was the Laker Girls and me.

As a child, I spent hours … riding in the car to our cattle ranch singing and harmonizing to hymns with my family.

Personal motto: “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is left on your bucket list? To take my family to float the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

 


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B U S I N E S S

L. Wayne Ratcliff

Little Rock
Owner
Bauman’s Men’s Fine Clothing

Wayne  Ratcliff was born in Starkville, Mississippi. His family later moved to Little Rock, where he graduated from Little Rock Central High School. He served in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve for seven years.

He first worked in the apparel industry with Lou Hoffman and joined Bauman’s in 1973; he became owner in 1997. Dan Phillips of M.M. Cohn & Co.; Bob Denton, president of Oxxford Clothes; and Mack McLarty, chairman of The McLarty Companies are among the men he considers mentors.

Denton said of Bauman’s: “At Oxxford Clothes, our motto is ‘Always be Faithful to Quality,’ so it’s easy to understand why Bauman’s has been one of our best and oldest customers.”

Bauman’s Men’s Fine Clothing has been named one of America’s Top Stores by Esquire for more than 20 years and one of America’s Top 25 Most Exciting Stores by Menswear Magazine. Ratcliff is married to Bill Grace Ratcliff.

One word that describes you: Persistent

First job: Working on a vegetable farm.

First big break: Discovering I enjoyed serving people to make them feel good! I worked after school every day at Bard’s Restaurant. Mr. Lou Hoffman was a patron of the restaurant, and he offered me my first apparel job in 1966.

Hobby: Work, some golf and my English toy spaniels.

Volunteer Work: Arthritis Foundation, Youth Home, P.A.R.K.  — our business supports many.

What you love about what you do: The satisfaction of giving people a good feeling about money spent to elevate their inner feelings about themselves.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Being a part of the resurrection of a business that is now recognized as one of America’s top specialty retailers by MR Magazine. Specifically, we were named one of the Annual Top 25 Specialty Stores in America.

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I love clothes, but I hate trying them on.

As a child, I spent hours … exploring and collecting.

Personal motto: Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

What is left on your bucket list? To ensure success for Bauman’s into our second hundred years.

 


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Daniel Hintz

Bentonville
Experience Architect/Developer
The Velocity Group

Daniel Hintz founded The Velocity Group in November 2013; he serves as CEO of the company, which is “an experience design firm that uses purposeful curation and activation to align, cultivate, inform and shape emotionally compelling and economically sound strategic community development plans.”

Previously, Hintz served as executive director of Downtown Bentonville, Inc. and Fayetteville Downtown Partners. He has worked with the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business, Pyramid Communications, Downtown Seattle YMCA and as a volunteer with Americorps.
Hintz earned a bachelor’s degree of fine arts from the University of Colorado Boulder and is a certified experience economy expert. He is a founding board member of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Food Council and serves as a member of several boards, including the NorthWest Arkansas Community College Culinary Program.

One word that describes you: Curious

Hometown: Milwaukee.

Childhood Nickname: DMZ.

What attracted you to your career? I wouldn’t really consider what I do a career, more a momentary bus stop in a continuous and dynamic journey of people, places and opportunities.

First job: Stacking firewood.

First big break: I served as an Americorps member, which provided focus and a discovered passion.

Hobby: Discovering amazing food experiences nestled in the loving embrace of incredible places.

Volunteer Work: Helping people connect to opportunities that fuel their ideas.

What you love about what you do: Working with awesome humans who are making great things happen.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? My kids and my marriage.

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know?  I never wear matching socks.

As a child, I spent hours … daydreaming.

Personal motto: Keep moving forward.

What is left on your bucket list? So many things, but the big one is to spend a year touring the world with my family.

 


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Eric Jackson

Hot Springs
General Manager
Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Eric Jackson is the general manager of Oaklawn Racing and Gaming and serves on the board of directors of the Oaklawn Jockey Club. He formerly served as president of RaceTech in Hot Springs and Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Jackson earned a bachelor’s of science degree from Hendrix College. He sits on the board of directors of CHI St. Vincent and for more than 25 years served as a volunteer in a number of roles with Sisters of Mercy. He has led and helped lead a number of campaigns including those benefiting Arkansas School for Math and Sciences for Hot Springs; the expansion of the city’s convention center auditorium; and the renovation of Mid-America Museum. Jackson has been named the Arkansas Tourism Person of the Year and has received the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award and the Governor’s Volunteer Excellence Award.

One word that describes you: Thorough

Hometown: Hot Springs, Arkansas.

What attracted you to your career? I came to this career “accidentally.” My Plan A was to teach.

First job: Sports reporter at local newspaper in high school.

First big break: When I met Oaklawn’s general manager on a tennis court, and we developed a friendship, which led to a job offer.

Hobby: Bad golf, and, according to the United States Running Streak Association, I am currently 598th on the list of joggers who have run a mile or longer every day for quite a period of time.

What you love about what you do: Seeing first-hand the significant economic impact Oaklawn has on Arkansas: jobs, tourism, taxes, purses for horse owners, etc.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Helping with the development and growth of Oaklawn in a very competitive marketplace.

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know?  I’m allergic to horses.

As a child, I spent hours … reading.

Personal motto: Sweat the details.

What is left on your bucket list? It’s pretty simple: finding more time to spend with Lynda, my wife of 43 years.

 


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Maurice R. Taylor

North Little Rock
Councilman
Real Estate Broker/Educator

Maurice Taylor has served the citizens of North Little Rock as an alderman for eight years. He’s also worked on the North Little Rock Planning Commission and the Planning Commission subdivision committee and on the board for the Police Athletic League. In 2012, he founded the Art Connection, an out-of-school, visual arts work program.

Taylor is a division sales manager for Rausch Coleman Homes in Little Rock and a real estate instructor with Success Real Estate School and National School of Real Estate. He’s the former Arkansas market manager for Salience Associates, Inc. and a former area manager for OTG Wireless and Paging.

One word that describes you: Confident

Hometown: Chicago.

Childhood Nickname: Reese.

What attracted you to your career? The simplicity, yet complexity of real estate.

First job: Construction with my dad.

First big break: Working for my dad building houses. He gave me my work ethic.

Hobby: Cooking, music and working out.

Volunteer Work: Mentoring youth.

What you love about what you do: Helping people solve problems.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Establishing the Art Connection.

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I’m a retired master sergeant — I have 25 years of military service.

As a child, I spent hours … exploring.

Personal motto: Live like it’s your last day; plan like you’ll live forever!

What is left on your bucket list? To visit every state in the Union  — Hawaii is next.

 


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Matthew D. Campbell

Little Rock
Lawyer
blogger/creator, Blue Hog Report

Matthew D. Campbell earned his law degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. He served as a chief investigator and deputy public defender at the Pulaski County Public Defender’s Office, and as an assistant criminal justice coordinator with the Arkansas Supreme Court. He later founded the Blue Hog Report, an award-winning political and investigative–reporting blog.

In 2013, he became a founding principal of Pinnacle Law Firm, a firm that has to date obtained more than $7 million in judgments and settlements.

One word that describes you: Muckracker

Hometown:  Aldrich, Missouri (pop. 74).

Childhood Nickname: Matty.

What attracted you to your career? I went to law school without much of a plan for what I would do afterward, but I quickly realized that I wanted to be on the plaintiffs’ side of things, where I could help people … I believe both my law practice and Blue Hog Report stem from the same overarching desire to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

First job: Mowing lawns.

First big break: As a lawyer, it was being hired by the Arkansas Supreme Court, where I was fortunate enough to work for the inimitable Sue Newbery. In terms of big breaks as a blogger, that has to be the series of posts on then-Lt. Gov. Mark Darr. Those posts — and his subsequent resignation — were better advertising than I could ever have hoped for at the time.

Volunteer Work: I frequently speak to various political and social groups about how they can use the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

What you love about what you do: I love feeling that I have a positive impact on people’s lives.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Building a successful law practice without the need to pay for advertising, thanks to the reputation and referrals I’ve received from people who read Blue Hog Report.

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? Prior to moving to Arkansas, I had very little interest in state-level politics.

As a child, I spent hours … outdoors, playing sports and exploring the woods with my younger brother.

Personal motto: If you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.

What is left on your bucket list? … I really just want to have some adventures with my wife and kids and see where this road leads us. Like Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves by pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

 


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Gregory Lamont Summers

Little Rock
Fire Chief
Little Rock Fire Department

Gregory L. Summers earned a bachelor’s degree in emergency management from Arkansas Tech University, where he is an adjunct instructor at the Arkansas Fire Academy. He’s also a certified law enforcement officer.

Summers belongs to the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters and the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association.

He became chief of the Little Rock Fire Department in 2009.

One word that describes you: Determined

Hometown: Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Childhood Nickname: Little Greg.

What attracted you to your career? I was enrolling at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff when my Little League baseball coach, then a member of the Pine Bluff Fire Department, told me the city of Little Rock was on campus recruiting firefighters. He highlighted my military service, and it didn’t take much for him to convince me of this grand opportunity.

First job: Stock clerk at a grocery store.

First big break: After five years of employment with the Little Rock Fire Department, I was given the opportunity to serve in the Fire Prevention Division. This move has proven pivotal in my ascension into my current position.

Hobby: Traveling in my RV with family and friends.

Volunteer Work: I’m on the board of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Red Cross.

What you love about what you do: Getting the opportunity to employ and manage a cadre of like-minded individuals who are committed to impacting the lives of others positively.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? On a personal note, Jeanette, my wife of 30 years, and I have raised three beautiful children who are “grown” productive citizens of society. Professionally, improving the City’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating from Class 2 to a Class 1. Of the 29,980 fire departments in the United States, only 144 are Class 1, a superior national distinction.

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I will not watch horror movies — too suspenseful.

As a child, I spent hours … active in Little League baseball.

Personal motto: Happiness is a choice!

What is left on your bucket list? An RV trek across the United States.

 


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Rusty Mathis

Little Rock
General Manager
Ben E. Keith Foods Mid-South Division

Rusty Mathis’ career in hospitality began as a bellman at a hotel on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. During his nearly four decades in the industry, he has served as assistant general manager of the hotel; director of sales at DeGray State Park Lodge and Conference Center; as general manager at a restaurant; and district sales representative for Kraft Foodservice. In August 1994, he became district sales representative for Ben E. Keith Foods. He was promoted to district sales manager, then to assistant general manager of its New Mexico Division and soon after to general manager. In September 2007, he became general manager of Ben E. Keith’s Mid-South Division. He and wife Stacy have three adult children and four grandchildren.

One word that describes you: Compassionate

Hometown: Leachville, Arkansas.

Childhood Nickname: Rusty.

What attracted you to your career? I started my career in the hospitality industry. Foodservice distribution is hospitality related but has more conventional work hours and still has a lot of personal interaction.

First job: Shoeshine boy.

First big break: Right out of high school, I took a position as a bellman at the Holiday Inn on Lake Hamilton. The general manager saw something in me and taught me the hotel business and elevated me through several positions.

Hobby: People. I really don’t have what most people consider a hobby.

Volunteer Work: I serve on various non-profit boards. I’m most passionate about the Thea Foundation and Our House.

What you love about what you do:  I work for a very unique company that cares deeply for its employees and communities. I feel it’s more than a job.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I am proud of many accomplishments, but the one I am most proud of are my children.

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know?  I didn’t go to college.

As a child, I spent hours … working, and that wasn’t a bad thing. I had a great childhood but working was a big part of it. There was also plenty of time socializing.

Personal motto: The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

What is left on your bucket list? My wife and I love to travel, and we always have two or three trips on the board. The one thing I suppose is still on my bucket list is to build a vacation home in New Mexico.

 


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Blake Anderson

Jonesboro
Head Football Coach
Arkansas State University

Blake Anderson is a 14-year coaching veteran at the NCAA FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision). He was named the head football coach at Arkansas State University (ASU) in December 2013. Anderson has led the ASU Red Wolves to back-to-back winning seasons; to bowl game appearances at the New Orleans Bowl and the GoDaddy Bowl; and to the 2015 Sun Belt Conference championship. Under his guidance the Red Wolves have broken school records for total offense yards, average yards total offense, total plays, and touchdowns scored. Anderson is also the first head coach in the college’s history to win 12 or more games in his first two seasons.

Anderson earned a degree in kinesiology from Sam Houston State University and a master’s degree in sports administration from Eastern New Mexico University. He and wife Wendy have three children.

One word that describes you: Competitive

Hometown: I was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and reared in Hubbard, Texas.

Childhood Nickname: Red.

What attracted you to your career? My love of the game.

First job: Wide receivers coach at Eastern New Mexico State in 1992.

First big break: 1st Division 1 job at the University of New Mexico in 1999.

Hobbies: Spending time with my family, golf and boarding — snow or wake.

Volunteer Work: Various with churches, charities and schools in the area.

What you love about what you do: The relationships with my players and staff.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Winning the 2015 Sunbelt Conference Championship.

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I grew up singing and playing the drums.

As a child, I spent hours … shooting, throwing, catching and hitting a ball any and every day I could.

Personal motto: Honor my Savior, love my family and serve others.

What is left on your bucket list? To play golf at Augusta National.

 


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Kane Webb

 Little Rock
Executive Director
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Kane Webb is executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, where he oversees the development and operation of state parks, grants and technical assistance to communities for parks and the promotion of the state through tourism and more. He previously served as a senior advisor on Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s staff.

He began his career as a journalist; he worked for the Arkansas Democrat, the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He served as assistant editorial page editor and a columnist and won many state, regional and national awards. He also taught journalism, creative writing and literature at his alma mater Little Rock Catholic High School.

One word that describes you: Risk taker

Hometown: Hot Springs, Arkansas.

What attracted you to your career? I like telling stories, and I love Arkansas.

First job: sportswriter for Arkansas Democrat.

First big break: When Wally Hall hired me out of college in 1986.

Hobby: Reading and dreaming up crazy ideas.

Volunteer Work: Whatever my amazing daughter Gracie asks me to help with.

What you love about what you do: There’s too much to list, but if I had to narrow it down, it’s the people I get to work with and the people across Arkansas I meet every day. I feel as if I’m re-re-rediscovering my state.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Personally, my daughter; professionally, thus far, helping Gov. Hutchinson write his inaugural address. It was an incredible honor and a privilege afforded few.

What’s the one fact about you that others would be surprised to know? I did CrossFit religiously until I blew out my knee … and my shoulder … and my back.

As a child, I spent hours … studying the Racing Form. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know how to read it.

Personal motto: “Write drunk, edit sober.”

What is left on your bucket list? I don’t know … maybe a trip to Mars.

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