Region's Rising Companies Earn Spots on Inc. 5000 List

Seven Northwest Arkansas companies are ranked on this year’s Inc. 5000 list.

Cabana Holdings of Fayetteville, Overdrive Brands of Fayetteville, RevUnit of Bentonville, ZENWORK of Fayetteville, Limbird Real Estate Group of Rogers, capSpire of Fayetteville and B-Unlimited of Fayetteville were the companies recognized by Inc., which bases its ranking on the company’s revenue growth rate from 2014-2017.

None of those Northwest Arkansas companies grew faster than Cabana Holdings, a financial services company founded in 2007 that has 20 employees. It ranked No. 457 nationally this year, growing its revenue by 1,113 percent over the three-year period.

"Dedication to and expansion of our family office services has provided exponential growth for our firm’s retail advisory business, specifically in the Northwest Arkansas and Dallas-Fort Worth areas," said Chadd Mason, the company's CEO. "We owe much of our success to our communities and the clients that have been with us from the beginning. Separately, in early 2016, we recognized a huge opportunity for growth in our sub-advisory money management business. Since then, we have invested our time and money into increasing our accessibility to advisers and firms across the country, as well as gaining credibility within the marketplace."

Overdrive Brands, an e-commerce platform founded in 2014, grew its revenue by 636 percent, coming in at No. 785 on Inc.'s list. Company revenue is near $21 million a year.

Owned by CEO Kurt Lind, President Jack Sanders and a financial investor, the company has 21 employees and has offices in Fayetteville and the Chicago suburb of Mundelein. It expects to add four or five employees in the next year, Lind said.

  Bentonville-based RevUnit has grown to 74 employees and now has an additional office in Las Vegas.

Bentonville-based RevUnit has grown to 74 employees and now has an additional office in Las Vegas.

RevUnit, a Bentonville company founded in 2012 by business partners Joe Saumweber and Michael Paladino, ranked No. 1,228 nationally. The company’s revenue now exceeds $8 million.

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized again this year among such inspiring businesses,” Saumweber wrote on the company’s website. “Our growth is a testament to the great work of our teams, who resolve to be a little better all the time. What I’m most proud of is that we’re growing the right way, partnering with innovative clients, bringing on the best talent, and pushing the boundaries of what enterprises can achieve through intelligent technology.”

ZENWORK, which has 45 employees and used to be called TechAtlantis, was founded by Sanjeev and Rekha Singh. It's a digital tax compliance and regulatory reporting company. It ranked No. 1,281 on the Inc. list. its annual revenue now tops $5 million.

  Fayetteville's ZENWORK, has revenue in excess of $5 million a year and 45 employees. It helps customers with tax and regulatory matters.

Fayetteville's ZENWORK, has revenue in excess of $5 million a year and 45 employees. It helps customers with tax and regulatory matters.

"Our team works hard to create compliance and information reporting tools our clients love," said Sanjeeve Singh. "It is an honor to be named with so many other high-performing, high-growth companies."

Limbird Real Estate Group, which was established in 2015 and now has 18 full-time real estate agents, ranked No. 1,964 with 228 percent revenue growth over the three years. Its annual revenue is $3.7 million.

Tara Limbird, who owns the company with her husband Nick Limbird, said the company has sold 500 properties for four consecutive years and it expects to hit that mark again in 2018.

In terms of revenue and employees, none of the Northwest Arkansas companies on the list are bigger than capSpire, a firm that earned a spot on the Inc. list for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 2009, capSpire's annual revenue now tops $23 million, growing by 152 percent over the three years measured by Inc.

  Jeff Hardcastle (pictured) and Mike Scharf are the co-founders of capSpire. 

Jeff Hardcastle (pictured) and Mike Scharf are the co-founders of capSpire. 

The technology company provides commodity trading and risk management services, focusing on the energy sector. It has offices in three states (Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas) and two other countries (Ireland and the United Kingdom). Eighteen of the company's 104 employees are based in Fayetteville. Ranked No. 2,734 on the list, capSpire's best accomplishment may be its frequency being recognized by Inc. Just 6 percent of the companies manage to stay on the list for six years or more, and capSpire is in its sixth year being ranked.

B-Unlimited does custom screen printing, making T-shirts, sweatshirts, outerwear and headwear. It ranked No. 2,772. With annual revenue approaching $8 million, it started in 1994 and now has 60 employees. CEO Ben Clark purchased the company in 2006.

Companies now well known across the nation were once members of the Inc. 5000 list. Zillow, Pandora, Domino's Pizza and Yelp are all former Inc. 5000 members.

The 2017 Inc. list included 14 Arkansas companies, and eight of them were in Northwest Arkansas. Five of the region's companies honored by Inc. this year — B-Unlimited, LImbird, capSpire, Overdrive Brands and RevUnit — made the 2017 list.

Pictured at the top: Molly Churchwell, Dan Kim and Whitney Klemann are among the capSpire employees based in the company's office in Fayetteville. Among the seven Northwest Arkansas companies ranked by Inc. magazine on its annual Inc. 5000 list, capSpire is the largest both in terms of annual revenue and number of employees.



Roots Festival Kicks Off Season of the Unique in Northwest Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas over the course of the next 100 days or so will put on an impressive music/food-focused festival, an established motorcycle rally with a new twist, a bicycle championship on a quirky track, Arkansas' best Christmas lights display and the world's most important squirrel-cooking shindig.

Anyone who doubts whether Northwest Arkansas has something for everyone isn't paying attention.

The five-day Fayetteville Roots Festival, which starts Wednesday, opens up what should be a remarkably unique back half of 2018 with so much variety on the calendar.

The festival includes folk, blues, jazz, bluegrass and country acts, and a YouTube video provides it's tough to decide if the festival is more about the food or more about the music. Its organizers describe it as "an intimate, urban music and food festival" that brings national acts and regional talent to 10 music stages. The Fayetteville Flyer earlier this month shared a nice summary of what’s on the Roots Festival schedule with performances by Mavis Staples, Josh Ritter, Gillian Welch, Turnpike Troubadours and dozens of other acts.


Yet, it would be tough for the Roots lovers to top the uniqueness of the World Champion Squirrel Cook Off put on Sept. 8 at the Benton County Quail Barn in Bentonville. Established seven years ago, founder Joe Wilson expects 35 to 40 teams from 20 states to be on hand. They'll cook up more than 1,200 squirrels over the course of the day for the 6,000 to 7,000 people expected to show up. The cook off caught the attention of The Wall Street Journal in 2013, and CBS Sunday Morning showed up two years later.

While the Bikes, Blues & BBQ motorcycle rally has been around for years, there's a distinctive addition tucked inside it this year that's noteworthy. Fayetteville at the same time as the rally will put on Ink & Art in the Ozarks, a first-time, tattoo-focused event planned at the Fayetteville Town Center.

Despite the rising popularity of tattoos, the main attraction should remain the motorcycles. Thousands of riders will roll into Northwest Arkansas for what's evolved into one of the nation's larger rallies. Organizers say Bikes and Blues, as it's often called, brings more than 300,000 people to Fayetteville. A study by the University of Arkansas Center for Business and Economic Research showed the economic impact of the 2013 rally was between $69 million and $81 million.

While it won't draw anywhere close to as many attendees as the motorcycle rally, Springdale for the first time will host the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship on Oct. 13 at the Jones Center. This video shows the expertise required to complete a ride through a bumpy pump track course.

Brightening things up at the end of the year will be Lights of the Ozarks, which is a Christmas light display. The city kicks on the lights in November and won't shut them off until Jan. 1, 2019.

Photo at the top: The Fayetteville Roots Festival draws thousands of visitors each year to Fayetteville. The photo was provided by Experience Fayetteville and taken by Meredith Mashburn.


Tyson Foods, Walmart Foundation Invest in EngageNWA Inclusion Efforts

With strong financial support from Tyson Foods and Walmart Foundation, EngageNWA launched its strategic plan with the goal to enhance the region’s ability to ensure an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone who makes Northwest Arkansas home. 

Details of the four-year EngageNWA Strategic Plan were announced today at a news conference at The Jones Center in Springdale. The plan includes initiatives to move Northwest Arkansas forward in five key areas: economic development, government, civic engagement, safe and connected communities, and education.  

“The work by EngageNWA is a critical component of our overall economic development plan for the region,” said Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council. EngageNWA operates as part of the Council.

“For Northwest Arkansas to continue ranking among the nation’s best places to live and work, we need everyone to feel a strong connection to our community,” Peacock said.

The demographics of Northwest Arkansas have changed dramatically over three decades, transitioning from a region with 4 percent of people who were nonwhite in 1990 to one that’s expected to be 31 percent nonwhite by 2022, a report published earlier this year by EngageNWA showed. The region’s Hispanic/Latino, Asian, African-American and Pacific Islander populations are expected to increase in the coming years.

 “It’s clear from the close to 200 stakeholders who participated in the plan’s development this past year that many members of our community, particularly those from diverse populations, want a stronger connection to the broader Northwest Arkansas community and have access to the resources they need,” said Margot Lemaster, EngageNWA’s executive director.  

Regional challenges in the strategic plan include theneed to attract, grow and retain workers, a shortage of diverse representation in the region’s leadership, a gap in newcomers’ understanding of local systems and how to access services, and the need for improved cross-cultural communication and cultural awareness.

 “Since its founding, the Northwest Arkansas Council has collaborated with Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to enhance the quality of life in the region,” said Julie Gehrki, Vice President of Walmart Foundation.“This plan outlines bold steps for regional partners to work together toward the common goal of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to thrive.  We are proud to join fellow business leaders like Tyson Foods in announcing our continued support of the Council and EngageNWA.”

The Walmart Foundation provided a $450,000 grant to the Northwest Arkansas Council to support the Council’s efforts to accelerate regional diversity and inclusion programs through the work of EngageNWA, specifically the strategic planning process. In addition, the grant supports the Council’s leadership and regional stewardship efforts to implement aspects of its strategic plan as well as an annual survey of more than 450 companies in partnership with chamber of commerce partners to collect and aggregate data on the region’s workforce and economic development needs.

A Tyson Foods Community Cornerstone Grant of $262,466 is helping five recipients carry out key aspects of the EngageNWA plan. 

“Today’s announcement reinforces the shared values of our community that we’re so proud to be a part of,” said Hector Gonzalez, vice president, human resources for Tyson Foods. “By investing in a range of community partners, we’re taking the next step toward reaching our goal of recruiting, retaining and engaging the most diverse and skilled group of team members possible.”

  Hector Gonzalez, a vice president, human resources at Tyson Foods, talked today about the company's commitment to embrace the diversity of its team members and the communities where team members live and work.

Hector Gonzalez, a vice president, human resources at Tyson Foods, talked today about the company's commitment to embrace the diversity of its team members and the communities where team members live and work.

Key initiatives for the Tyson Foods grant recipient include:

  • The City of Springdale was awarded $96,400 to (1) convene underrepresented residents for a community forum to solicit input about the city’s future, (2) implement a civic academy to teach residents about accessing and engaging with city services and leadership opportunities, (3) hire an individual to manage the city’s Welcoming Communities efforts, and (4) create videos and documents in English, Spanish and Marshallese about how to access services and stay safe.
  • EngageNWA was awarded $63,681 to manage the grant and to (1) develop a program that identifies, trains and help connect qualified individuals to leadership roles;(2) create a unified voice for regional inclusion efforts through a communications campaign; (3) convene community cohesion forums to bring together a diverse group of Northwest Arkansas residents; and (4) coordinate diversity and inclusion training for different sectors. 
  • CanopyNWA was awarded $37,979 to provide a community orientation workshop series for newcomers about how to navigate key community systems and to pair new arrivals with established community members through a mentor program to help them connect to the community and reach their objectives.
  • Welcoming America was awarded $40,000 to work with the cities of Fayetteville and Springdale to meet the indicators of at least two areas of the Welcoming Standard.
  • Teen Action and Support Center was awarded $24,406 to increase access to services for Spanish and Marshallese speakers by providing culturally sensitive translators for services and by translating key service materials.

The work by EngageNWA and its partners is a key aspect of the Greater Northwest Arkansas Development Strategy, a plan that guides the Northwest Arkansas Council’s overall work that was made public on July 10.

Pictured at the top: Julie Gerhrki, a vice president of the Walmart Foundation, told a crowd of about 100 people at the Jones Center about the foundation's belief that diversity and inclusion contribute to stronger communities.


'Dogged' Arkansas Planners Keep After Funding for I-49 in Missouri

'Dogged' Arkansas Planners Keep After Funding for I-49 in Missouri

The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission is pursuing a $25 million federal grant to complete a key section of Interstate 49 in Missouri.

The commission’s staff worked closely with the Northwest Arkansas Council in submitting the application for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to pay for a portion of the I-49 Missouri-Arkansas Connector. The Missouri Department of Transportation, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, key members of Congress, Missouri lawmakers and the business community in Arkansas and Missouri are supportive of the project.

J.B. Hunt's Hobbs Takes Over As Presiding Co-Chair

 An executive at J.B. Hunt Transport Services is the new presiding co-chair of the Northwest Arkansas Council.

Nick Hobbs, the logistics company’s president of dedicated contract services, takes over for University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz, who spent the past year leading the Council. The leadership transition was made at the Council’s annual meeting on Tuesday.