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story.lead_photo.caption Warren Stephens (left) and Claiborne Deming (right) were inducted into the Sam M. Walton College of Business Arkansas Business Hall of Fame on Friday, Feb. 8, 2018, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. - Photo by Thomas Metthe

Four business leaders who have made significant contributions to their communities and to the petroleum, finance, protein and canning industries were honored Friday in Little Rock at the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Joining the list of 82 members in the Hall of Fame are Claiborne P. Deming, retired chief executive officer and current chairman of the board of Murphy Oil Corp.; Warren A. Stephens, chairman and chief executive officer of Stephens Inc.; the late Joe M. Steele, founder of Steele Canning Co. and head of the Springdale Canning Co.; and the late John W. Tyson, founder and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods.

Deming began working for family-owned Murphy Oil as a staff attorney after earning his degree from Tulane Law School in 1979. Deming served as executive vice president and chief operating officer before becoming chief executive officer in 1994.

Deming expanded the company internationally, acquiring three oil concessions off the Malaysia coast. Besides its headquarters in El Dorado, Murphy Oil has offices in Houston and four international locations.

Deming may be best remembered for a 2006 idea to help El Dorado. He made a $50 million proposal to the Murphy board to start the El Dorado Promise, which awards graduates of El Dorado High School a scholarship equal to in-state tuition and fees for bachelor's or associate degrees.

The promise scholarship has provided funding to 2,025 students in the 10 years since it was established.

Stephens followed the advice of his business school mentor to learn under the guidance of his father and uncle at Stephens Inc. He joined Stephens Inc. in 1981 after earning his MBA from Wake Forest. He started in corporate finance and within two years was senior vice president of the Capital Markets Group.

In 1986, Jack Stephens stepped aside as president and chief executive officer, making Warren only the third CEO to run the company.

Almost immediately, Warren began to grow Stephens beyond its public finance roots to focus on investment banking.

When Stephens became CEO, the company had about 100 employees and one location. Now it has more than 1,000 employees and 28 locations.

Stephens became sole owner of Stephens Inc. in 2006.

Stephens is past chairman of the Arkansas Arts Center. He and his wife are co-chairmen of the Arts Center's current capital campaign.

The Stephens family focuses its charitable giving on the arts, education and health care.

Steele studied engineering at the University of Arkansas from 1924 to 1926 but he left as a junior to devote his time to his business -- Steele Canning Co., which was built near a large spring on the family farm. He started canning tomatoes but soon expanded to include spinach, lima beans, green beans, sweet potatoes and more.

Steele and his cousin Luther Johnson bought Springdale Canning Co. in 1937. Steele died in 1976.

In the middle of the Great Depression in 1931, Tyson moved to Springdale from Olathe, Kan., constantly looking for work hauling produce, hay or chickens.

In 1936, Tyson read that chicken prices were higher in Chicago. So with a $1,000 loan and $800 of his own money, Tyson loaded 500 spring chickens and made the 1,400 mile round trip to Chicago using his in-transit feeding system. He made $235 profit.

By 1950, Tyson Feed and Hatchery processed 12,000 chickens a week, employed 52 people and grossed $1 million a year. In 1963, Tyson changed the name of the company to Tyson Foods Inc. and took it public. He died in 1967.

The event was held at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

Warren A. Stephens, chairman and chief executive officer of Stephens Inc., is shown in this photo.

Business on 02/08/2019

Print Headline: Arkansas Business Hall of Fame adds four new members tonight


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