Arkansas Capital Meet the Founders

Meet the Founders

Arkansas Capital Corporation is a private, non-profit lending corporation known for helping grow businesses through our expertise and flexible financing products. We didn’t grow this large overnight though. In fact, Arkansas Capital, originally named First Arkansas Development Finance Corporation, was formed in 1957 to finance the transformation of Arkansas from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. Who were the forward-thinking, influential individuals who sparked this movement? Allow us to introduce you.

Winthrop Rockefeller

Before Rockefeller served his two terms as Governor of Arkansas, he was already known for his economic development. From his purebred cattle business, to his position as founding chair of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (now the Arkansas Economic Development Commission), Rockefeller was responsible for bringing thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in capital investment to Arkansas.

John Tyson

John Tyson’s entrepreneurial experience began when he heard word that chickens were selling for more money in the northern part of the United States than in his home state. With this news, Tyson began transporting hoards of chickens to Chicago, Illinois, to sell them for profit. Eventually, this led to the purchase of a broiler farm in Northwest Arkansas, where he began cross-breeding poultry, and growing a name for himself as not only innovative but successful.

Horace Cabe

As the founder of the Gurdon Lumber Company, timber businessman, Charles Louis (Horace) Cabe Sr., was another major player in the founding of what is now known as Arkansas Capital. Later in life, he went on to establish the Horace C. Cabe Foundation, created to grant funds to nonprofits and programs in both Arkansas and Texas.

Harvey Couch Jr.

From modest beginnings to being dubbed the “father of Arkansas Power and Light Company,” Harvey Couch helped create both the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway and the Kansas City Southern Railway into the major transportation systems that they are today.

John Ed Chambers

Vanderbilt graduate, John Ed Chambers, became a Chancery Judge for the 14th District of Arkansas prior to establishing Danville State bank, now called Chambers Bank, as a way to help his fellow citizens of Arkansas survive during the depression of 1930.

Dave Grundfest

Dave Grundfest, known fondly as “Mr. Dave” by his employees, founded Stering Stores Company, Inc., in 1922. In the 50 years following, he expanded to build 100 retail variety stores across the United States, including Magic Mart Discount Department Store, a 50-store venture, that by 1983, allowed Mr. Dave to retire and sell approximately 150 stores.

Charles H. Murphy Jr.

Charles Murphy Jr. took over the family enterprise, Murphy Oil Corporation, at a ripe age of 21, and spent the next five decades building it to where it is today. Mr. Murphy retired in 1994 with two refineries in the United States and the United Kingdom, and a seat on Murphy Oil’s board of directors.

Raymond Rebsamen

After being named one of the nation’s top 50 brokers, Raymond Rebsamen’s business, Rebsamen Insurance, was purchased by Regions in 2001. Since then, he served on many business and community boards in his home state of Arkansas, offering his expertise and business knowledge.

JA Riggs Jr.

After a three-year period of growth, John Riggs, Jr., or J.A., joined J.A. Riggs Tractor Co. (now Riggs CAT). With this expansion, a new branch was opened in West Memphis, and an additional 66 counties were added. Today, Riggs CAT proudly employees over 400 people statewide, and operated facilities throughout the state.

McCloud Sicard

Although Fort Smith was founded in 1817, local historians claim that the town didn’t hold a position in the commercial world until First National Bank opened in 1872. McCloud Sicard took over this operation as President in 1977. Under his leadership, First Bank Corp., National Bank of Sallisaw; Citizens Bank and Trust Company in Van Buren; First National Bank of NWA; Brown-Hiller-Clark & Associates; and Realty Appraisals, Inc. were all founded.

E.O. Yancey

E.O. Yancey served on the Searcy Board of Public Utilities when the city of Searcy purchased the Searcy waterworks system from the White Country Water Company, Inc. This system, now known as the Searcy Water and Sewer System, has operated the water and sewer system ever since.

William E. Darby

In 1929, insurance agent, William E. Darby joined National Old Line Insurance Company. Through hard work and determination, Darby rose to president and then chairman of the board. In fact, the company drew nationwide attention because of its uncommon growth, and by the time he retired in 1972, National Old Line had grown to be a billion-dollar business.

Robert A. Young Jr.

After purchasing Arkansas Motor Freights Line Inc. in 1951, Robert A. Young Jr. began growing. By 1966, Arkansas Best Corporation, a multi-million dollar holding company with three primary subsidiaries, had been formed. Arkansas Best has been named as one of Forbes’  “Platinum 400 Best Big Companies in America.”

Witt Stephens

Wilton Robert Stephens, or “Witt” as he was more commonly known, founded what was once the largest brokerage firm off Wall Street, Stephens, Inc. in Little Rock, Arkansas. After World War II and through the latter half of the twentieth century, Stephens played a leading role in the political and economic standings of the Natural State.

Though Arkansas Capital has diversified since our initial founding in 1957, we have never altered our focus– to improve Arkansas’ economy. In the past 60 years, we have provided financing products of over $1.5 billion in capital through over 1,300 loans to meet the needs of small businesses to large scale operations. Learn more about our services and what we can do to grow your business by contacting us at our Little Rock office at (501)374.9425 or in Fayetteville at (479)444.8882.


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