Weldon, Williams, and Lick (WWL) employees, former employees, and others gathered Friday in Fort Smith to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the company that initially included a newspaper operation.
Located in downtown Fort Smith, WWL has been in business since 1898. William McKinley was the U.S. President, and the country entered and concluded a war with Spain following the sinking of the USS Maine. John D. Rockefeller controlled more than 80% of oil produced in the United States.
About 95% of tickets for the Ringling Brothers Circus were at one time printed by WWL. The company in the 1920s began printing tickets for professional sports teams when it won a ticket contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. WWL also printed about 8.8 million tickets for the 2012 London Olympics.
The company prints – or has printed – tickets, badges and other materials for major sporting events, parks, museums, rodeos, festivals, colleges, building security, and state and local governments. Some of its products include souvenir ticketing, specialty credentialing using RFID technology, embedded QR codes that unlock digital experiences for fans and sponsors, and parking solutions.
“From humble beginnings to becoming an industry powerhouse, WW&L has consistently demonstrated its commitment to delivering exceptional products and services. Through the years, the company has expanded its offerings, remaining at the cutting edge of technology while maintaining the values and traditions that have been the cornerstone of its success,” noted a company statement.
Friday’s event was held in the Bakery District in downtown Fort Smith. WWL CEO Tracey Geren said the company’s history is a mix of talented workers, community partnership, and working with customers to develop innovative products.
“As we celebrate our anniversary, we reflect on the incredible journey that has brought us to this moment,” Geren said in a statement. “The dedication and talent of our team, the loyalty of our clients, and the unwavering support of our community have been key to our success the past 125 years. We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our clients for over a century, and we look forward to many more years of partnership and innovation.”
Geren was promoted to WWL president and CEO in August 2017 after working as chief financial officer for 37 years. She succeeded Jim Walcott, who had been president since 1985. She’s the company’s fifth president in its 125-year history, the first female president and the first non-family member president. She was a 2020 member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Women in Business class.
Former CEO Walcott is an example of the community partnership. The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS) is renaming the university’s Family Enterprise Center (FEC) for the late Walcott. Walcott, a business and community leader who played a part in the creation of the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education, died May 7 after a long battle with cancer. He was employed by Fort Smith-based Weldon, Williams & Lick for 43 years and was president and CEO for 32 of those years, according to information provided by the company.