Welcome to Beyond the Bank

By on Feb 3, 2016 in People | 1 comment

In this blog, we’ll explore the people and events that make the area of the country served by Simmons Bank such an interesting place to live, work and play. Our writers will be on the road across Simmons Country in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee to find stories of interest. It might be a successful high school football team. It might be a restaurant that has been operating for more than 50 years. It might be a volunteer who is considered the heart and soul of his or her community. We hope you find the stories fun to read, and we solicit your feedback.

Historic West Tennessee Church Stronger Than Ever After Fire

By on Oct 25, 2016 in Places | 0 comments

In the cemetery behind the gutted Mount Pleasant First United Methodist Church building in rural west Tennessee were two charred pages from the Methodist hymnals. One page was titled “We Shall Overcome.” The other was titled “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” The members of the Dresden, Tenn., congregation took that as a sign. They built a new building in less than a year. The fire also rekindled some of the congregation’s spiritual faith. “It’s hard to believe that it takes something like that to bring them back,” says the church treasurer, James Klutts. “But it did. Our congregation is stronger than ever.” A series of storms rolled through the area in the early morning hours of Monday, April 20, 2015. Lightning hit the steeple of the church. The bolt ran through the building and in the ground to a neighboring Baptist church. The strike was so powerful that it blew the meter off the wall of...

Wichita Entrepreneur Ahead of Her Time With Natural Foods Market

By on Oct 13, 2016 in Business, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When it comes to business, Barb Hoffmann’s family follows her lead. Sometimes, family members struggle just to keep up. “One day, they pulled me to the side and said, ‘If you start one more business, we’re done,’” Hoffmann says with a laugh. Her ambition has made her a respected entrepreneur in her native Wichita, Kan., and beyond. Hoffmann started in the late 1970s hosting what were known as plant parties, at which she sold plants to groups of women during evening gatherings. That later blossomed into a commercial greenhouse business that became Tropical Designs, an interior plant operation. As if that weren’t enough, her family opened GreenAcres Market in 1994, specializing in vitamins and natural foods. Hoffmann was treated for chronic back pain by a doctor who prescribed alternative medicine and included vitamin therapy. That inspired her to open the business, which struggled for...

Iconic Fayetteville Bartender Makes Dream Come True With Grub’s, Gusano’s

By on Oct 3, 2016 in Business, Food | 0 comments

Matt Christie resembles a bartender more than a chief executive officer. You won’t catch the successful Fayetteville, Ark., restaurant owner in a suit. On this summer day in his corporate offices, he’s leaning back in a conference-room chair sporting a cap, golf shirt, cargo shorts and sneakers. The 40-year-old business owner achieved cult status on Dickson Street, the main restaurant and bar district for University of Arkansas students, soon after he arrived on campus as a student in 1995. It wasn’t long before the bartender nicknamed “Grub“ was a fixture at establishments that catered to college students. “I loved the social life,” Christie says. “I still do.” Academia became an afterthought, and Christie made bartending and managing his career. In 2001, he and two co-workers at Hoffbrau Steaks opened Grub’s Bar & Grille on Dickson Street. The business was an instant success....

Wichita State Players Hoping For One More Ovation in Little Rock

By on Sep 29, 2016 in Sports | 0 comments

Ray Burford remembers the thunderous ovation and can still picture the sea of red. Even though it has been 46 years, he often thinks of that day when more than 40,000 fans rose to their feet in boisterous appreciation. Burford and his Wichita State teammates were supposed to be in enemy territory that late October day in 1970 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. But this game was different.  Three weeks before, one of Wichita State’s team planes crashed in Colorado on the way to Logan, Utah, for a game at Utah State. Thirty-one people died, including 14 players, head coach Ben Wilson and his wife. Eight players were injured.  With three games already under their belts, the surviving players voted to continue the season. The Utah State game was cancelled as was a game against Southern Illinois.  The first game of what the players dubbed the “second season” was at No. 9 Arkansas.  The...

Electrician, Wife Turn Helpful Device Into Patented Product

By on Sep 22, 2016 in Business | 0 comments

Sometimes the best inventions are born out of necessity. As an industrial electrician in Missouri, Ron Meyer constantly was trying to improve quality and efficiency. One of the biggest problems he had was installing conduit and process piping in a sanitary manner in food production facilities. On-site fabrication of the special pipe-support brackets was slow and messy. “This whole thing was born out of desperation and aggravation,” he says. “Every one of these jobs is more fast track than the last one. You’re forced to hurry up and get it done. If all you’re doing is making a mess and mistakes, it takes time. You’re trying to provide value to the customer. That’s what has always been pounded into me. You go out and find a way to give customers the value they deserve. Then you’ll have no reason to look for work anywhere because they won’t let you go.” Process piping is pipework used to...

Former Missouri Coach Pinkel Adjusting to Life After Football

By on Sep 20, 2016 in Events, Sports | 0 comments

The 2016 football season marks the first time in 55 years that Gary Pinkel hasn’t been playing or coaching the sport. It has been an adjustment. “I went to my first tailgate party at the first Missouri home game,” said Pinkel, who retired at the end of last season after 15 years as the head coach at the University of Missouri. “I’ve never tailgated in my life. I had no idea what was going on there.” Pinkel decided to retire after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Pinkel spoke Monday to the Little Rock Touchdown Club, which is sponsored by Simmons Bank. “I had to make a decision last year,” Pinkel said. “I have eight grandchildren, and I wanted to spend more time with them. I had to de-stress.” Pinkel, a standout receiver at Kent State in Ohio, landed on the staff of Don James, his college coach, when James was the head coach at Washington. He succeeded Kent State teammate...

Long satisfied with four-team College Football Playoff

By on Sep 13, 2016 in Events, Sports | 0 comments

The College Football Playoff selection committee won’t meet for another month, but its members are keeping close tabs on the early upsets in college football.  Jeff Long, the University of Arkansas athletic director and a member of the committee, spoke Monday at the Little Rock Touchdown Club, sponsored by Simmons Bank. Following a question-and-answer session before a crowd of several hundred people, Long discussed the work of the committee. “We’ve already started looking at teams,” he said. “All of the members of the committee start watching games the opening week. I’ve recorded games that I have to go back and watch. We’ll be watching all of those games, and they’re all important.” Some writers have been critical of a playoff system that includes just four teams. An expanded field, the critics maintain, would be more favorable for mid-major programs and teams that lost early but...

Jackson Generals Entertain Fans, Give Back to the Community

By on Sep 2, 2016 in Business, Sports | 0 comments

The Jackson Generals offer baseball fans in west Tennessee quality family entertainment. But the club has loftier goals. For 19 years, the Class Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners has been a fixture in the community, giving back to charity groups on a regular basis. For its efforts, the club was awarded the Jackson Small Business of the Year Award during the spring. The award came on the heels of winning the 2015 Southern League Community Service Award. “We’re proud to be honored,” says Brandon Liebhaber, the Generals’ manager of media relations and broadcasting. “We’re a business, but it means a lot for us to be recognized as a fixture in the community. We’re achieving our goals. We’re getting people to the park in the summer, and we’re also doing service projects and making sure we build relationships.” The Generals’ mascot, a Bulldog named Sarge, makes public appearances...