Two Northwest Arkansas families who have guided the rise of two of the nation’s largest poultry companies will be honored for their business acumen this fall in Springdale.
Arkansas nonprofit group Economics Arkansas, an educational organization that promotes economic literacy to K-12 students in the state, will present the 2019 Excellence in Free Enterprise Awards to the George family of Springdale-based George’s Inc. and the Simmons family of Siloam Springs-based Simmons Foods Inc. & Affiliates.
The families will be honored at a luncheon at the Holiday Inn Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale on Oct. 7. Gov. Asa Hutchinson will give the keynote address.
“They are fierce competitors, yet very close friends,” Economics Arkansas Executive Director Kathleen Lawson said about the two families. “Both their successes and their close friendships have been made possible by the American free-market economy, which is what we celebrate with the Excellence in Free Enterprise Awards.”
Founded in the 1920s by C.L. George and his sons, George’s has grown from a small business into one of the top 10 largest vertically integrated chicken producers in America that offers a diversified protein assortment beyond poultry. Twin brothers Carl and Charles George have led the fourth generation of the company since 2013.
Bill Simmons founded Simmons Foods in 1949. Still a family-owned and family-led business, the company employs more than 7,000 members as one of the nation’s leading suppliers of poultry, pet and animal nutrition products.
Economics Arkansas started the award in Northwest Arkansas seven years ago by honoring the legacies of J.B. and Johnelle Hunt, John Tyson and Sam Walton. Previous recipients also include Mike Duke and Gov. Hutchinson.
Economics Arkansas also has a similar fundraising event in central Arkansas each year to present the Leadership in Free Enterprise (LIFE) Award. The organization presented that award in March to Warren Stephens, longtime chairman and CEO of Stephens Inc.