Fayetteville businessman Dick Latta, the owner and founder of poultry equipment and construction supplier Latco Truss Co. of Lincoln, died Tuesday (Feb. 11) at Circle of Life Hospice in Springdale. He was 73. Latta was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2018.
Latta, who grew up in Morrow in western Washington County, graduated from Lincoln High School. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve in Chu Lai, Vietnam. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1971 with a marketing degree.
In 1973, Latta bought Prince Manufacturing Co. in Lincoln from his father-in-law, S.E. Prince, and renamed it Latco Inc. In 1984, he formed Latco Truss and built poultry houses from Colorado to Florida.
Latta also built commercial egg production facilities in Iowa and Utah, according to his obituary. Delta Egg Farm was the second largest employer in Miller County, Utah.
Latta also raised purebred Simmental cattle and started LEAD (Law Enforcement and Detection) to train police dogs to use in schools.
In August 1995, Latta joined Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, according to his obituary. He served on the board of trustees, was a member of the Growing in Grace Sunday School class and was an Emmaus Pilgrim. He was also an inaugural board member for Northwest Arkansas National Airport when it opened in 1998.
A funeral service is scheduled Friday (Feb. 14) in the CAC Building at Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville.
Mike Latta worked for with his older brother at Latco from 1975 to 1990. In a telephone interview, he recalled Latco’s early involvement with poultry companies. The company’s growth was kickstarted by doing work for Hudson Foods Inc. in Rogers.
“In the early 80s, we ended up building about 140 [poultry] houses around Westville, Okla. for Hudson,” he recalled. “That was our first major project. We even poured the concrete on their feed mill. We started growing all over the country doing different projects.
“In the poultry business, if they wanted poultry houses done, [Latco] is who they called. Everybody started building big complexes.”
Latta said at one time Latco exported poultry houses to Saudi Arabia, Puerto Rico and Kuwait.
Latco Truss has diversified from serving only the poultry business. The company is now one of the largest wood truss producers in Arkansas. Latco Truss employs roughly 100 people and is Lincoln’s largest employer.
Latta said his brother was community-minded, generous and always busy.
“One of my brother’s habits was he always had to be doing something,” Latta said. “He never met a challenge he didn’t take head on.”