Forty Under 40: Chris Hoyle

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Chris Hoyle is an overachiever who has built his career on the networking relationships that are so critical in Northwest Arkansas’ supplier realm.

Born in Fort Smith and raised south of Norman, Oklahoma, Hoyle earned a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from the University of Oklahoma. He then spent two years in Russia as a team leader with Campus Crusade for Christ. He thought he was headed for seminary.

But while on holiday in Rome, Hoyle unexpectedly met an intriguing woman (she was his roommate’s sister, and is now his wife) and in 2003 followed her back to Arkansas. His first job after the return was managing data for Walmart suppliers. He then worked for a brokerage company. He wanted Fortune 500 experience, so he took sales positions with Kraft and Cadbury, and ultimately joined Ferrara in 2012.

“Much of my training has been on the job,” Hoyle said. “Even if you have the right technical ability, I think the ability to communicate and relate to people is critical. Relationships and networking are especially important in this town. I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in but for a lot of other people coaching me, training me or giving me opportunities that were maybe a little bit of a stretch.”

Hoyle aims to be motivated, dependable and to follow through on commitments. Last year, in the department for which Hoyle is responsible, Ferrara was named Walmart’s Supplier of the Year for U.S. manufacturing in the food division after it brought 100-plus jobs to the U.S. from Mexico and Canada.

Hoyle remains a voracious reader of non-fiction, particularly in the subjects of business and theology. “Things for my soul and things for my mind,” he said. He serves as a ruling elder and a Sunday school teacher for high schoolers at Trinity Grace Church, and he coaches his three children’s basketball and soccer teams.