Greenway Equipment, Inc. of Weiner, is contributing $250,000 to the University of Arkansas to benefit students in the Walton College and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. Continue reading Greenway Supports Students, Two Colleges with Campaign Arkansas Gift
Faculty and students from the Sam M. Walton College of Business attended the Enterprise Computing Community Conference in Poughkeepsie, New York, June 11-13. Continue reading Walton Faculty, Students Participate in Enterprise Computing Community Conference
Dinesh K. Gauri, a Walton College professor of marketing and holder of the Walmart Chair in Marketing, has had a paper “An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Promotional Discounts on Store Performance” accepted for publication in the Journal of Retailing. Continue reading Gauri Co-Authors Paper for Journal of Retailing
Karen V. Pincus, a Walton College professor of accounting and the Doyle Z. and Maynette Derr Williams Chair in Professional Accounting, will receive one of only two Outstanding Accounting Educator Awards given by the American Accounting Association in 2017. Continue reading Pincus to Receive Outstanding Accounting Educator Award
Nelson Peacock, a 1991 graduate of the Walton College, has been selected as president and chief executive officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council. Continue reading Peacock Named CEO of Northwest Arkansas Council
Derrick Riddle has joined the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas as assistant director of development. Continue reading Riddle Joins Walton Development Team
Barbara Lofton, director, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Sam M. Walton College of Business, was named an Honorary Alumna during the Black Alumni Society Awards Gala on April 29 in recognition of her contributions to the University of Arkansas.
“To be recognized as a lifetime alumna made me proud as if I graduated from the university,” said Lofton. “I was humbled that persons felt my work and commitment are worthy of such an honor.
Lofton manages Walton’s diversity programs, oversees several scholarships, sponsors registered student organizations and teaches diversity classes. She supports student recruitment, retention and increasing graduation rates. Lofton also serves as a mentor, advisor and business competition coach for students.
“Dr. Lofton works tirelessly to recruit and retain minorities through several outreach programs, business competitions and student organizations,” said Anne O’Leary-Kelly, senior associate dean for Walton. “I am proud of her work to advance the university and our college. Barbara is deserving of this prestigious award.”
“In the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, we work on behalf of many students, faculty, staff and sometime communities,” said Lofton. “For me, when I see a person realize the impossible is possible with persistence, it is like magic.”
Dean Doyle Z. Williams hired Lofton in 1994 to establish Walton’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, creating the oldest diversity office at a Southeastern Conference business school and one of the oldest in the nation.
Lofton holds a doctorate from Grambling State University, a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University.
It’s bread with benefits.
That’s the catch phrase Daymara Baker uses when describing her business, Rockin’ Baker, a bakery tucked inside a small Fayetteville plaza among a bicycle shop and microbrewery. Loaves sport catchy names like The Grateful Bread Sourdough and Butterfield Trail Mix Sourdough (Baker’s culinary training took place in San Francisco, the unofficial sour dough capital of the world and, thus, there’s a wide selection). Lunch offerings include salads and a variety of sandwiches from vegetarian to beefsteak.
But behind it all is Baker’s drive to help people become self-sufficient through the Rockin’ Baker Academy. They could include victims of domestic violence, those who have been in jail or have special needs – anyone who face challenges integrating into mainstream society, she says.
The idea of combining a bakery with the academy came to her while on a plane, reading a book, as she traveled to see her parents during the spring of 2015.
“The concept was vivid,” she recalls. “It was like a movie.”
She worked out the details, thousands of feet in the air.
“When I landed, it was a little scary – the feeling,” she says.
But she wasn’t afraid to take risks. She already knew the realities of financial loss from her home country of Venezuela, when an economic collapse during the 1990s caused her to lose 64 percent of her savings. She survived and knew if this didn’t work, she would survive again.
Baker consulted an executive coach to brainstorm on potential professional routes to take after working in the corporate world for decades. After sharing her vision for Rockin’ Baker and being asked, “What’s holding you back?,” Baker decided to take the risk and started setting up her business, which included enrolling in the San Francisco Baking Institute in California. When she completed the program, she went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to apprentice at an artisan bakeshop. One of the institute’s founders, Michel Suas, helped her with her shop’s layout and Baker researched equipment. Bill Fox, director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center, assisted with the marketing research and business pro forma to secure a small business loan.
When it all fell into place, she rented space in the Creekside Plaza on Mall Avenue in Fayetteville, hired employees – she currently oversees four – and on Veteran’s Day, 2016, she opened Rockin’ Baker, a play on words that gives her name new meaning.
Baker’s winding journey to Northwest Arkansas from her native La Guaira, Venezuela, began in southern Arkansas when she attended college at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. She completed her bachelor’s degree in only two years and then enrolled at the Walton College, where she worked as a graduate assistant for Rita Littrell, director of the Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education.
After earning her MBA in 1999, Baker served as an account executive with Thompson Murray, which eventually was sold to Saatchi & Saatchi, a global communications and advertising agency with an office in Springdale.
She made a discovery at the job. “That’s when I realized I was more of a people person,” she says.
A successful career with various companies and positions enabled her to interact with others as she worked on promotional strategies for The Integer Group’s Northwest Arkansas office before joining Chiquita Brands International, a stint that lasted almost a decade and led her to be named Chiquita’s Sales Director of the Year.
Throughout Baker’s busy schedule, she has made time for community service, including co-founding the Community Creative Center, a nonprofit art studio and visual arts organization located in the Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios in Fayetteville.
And her schedule continues to be a busy one. A typical day at the shop begins at 4 a.m. and ends often when the sun sets. She bakes and makes goods that are similar to the kinds originally found in Venezuelan bakeries. She incorporates sandwiches, salads, beverages and sweets among her offerings. “People are very appreciative of the lunch that we serve because everything is made from scratch,” she says.
Her routine could soon include cadet bakers – participants in the Rockin’ Baker Academy who learn life skills while gaining on-the-job experience by producing a variety of sourdough breads and other delicacies. The Academy has partnered with Brightwater, A Center for the Study of Food, at NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. She also serves and sells products from Arkansas businesses such as Onyx Coffee Lab, Kyya Chocolate, Savoy Tea Company, Patagonia Bee Products and extra virgin olive oils and vinegars from the Raimondo Family Winery.
Through these associations and skills taught, Baker hopes the cadets will be empowered to find a job in the culinary industry or even explore entrepreneurship.
“This is a bakery with a mission,” she says.
Gaining real-world experience in a career that you love. Earning credit toward your major. Making a difference in your community.
All from one class project. Pretty cool, huh?
For the spring 2017 semester, Anne Velliquette, clinical assistant professor at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, assigned a service-learning project to her Integrated Marketing Communications class. Teams formed and assignments were made. The project developed full blown advertising campaigns – and the research and pitches that go along with it – to promote Rockin’ Baker, a local mission-focused, benefit corporation bakery located in North Fayetteville.
Walton students Alexa Wood, Bethany McClain, Connor Clark, Demrie Lowry, Emma Meyer and Danielle Deats teamed up to create the Creative Lense Advertising agency for their team project and claim first place in the class competition.
“For this project we formed teams to create an advertising agency, which included coming up with an agency name, logo, and tagline, in order to prepare a campaign for our client, Rockin’ Baker,” said marketing major Demrie Lowry. “We were required to prepare three visual advertisements, a creative brief and we also created a social media plan.”
“I intend to pursue a career in marketing and this project will definitely help me in my career. It allowed us to work firsthand with a real client who actually wants to hear our ideas and feedback,” Lowry said. “I believe it will set us ahead because we have actually prepared a creative brief for a client based on their goals, which is exactly how it will be in a real-world setting.”
The client – Rockin’ Baker – prepares fresh breads such as traditional baguettes or sourdough, along with sourdough accented with nuts, herbs, olives, bananas, rye flour or chocolate. Tuesday through Saturday, it supplements baked goods with lunch sandwiches and salads.
When opening the doors of Rockin’ Baker, a rush of warm bread fresh from the oven awakes your senses. The shop doesn’t just smell good; it promotes good as well. The bakery is a registered nonprofit. It creates jobs and develops job skills for at-risk people who are interested in the culinary industry.
The team set out to reflect the social mission and fresh bread the bakery is known for.
“I learned how valuable it is to have something that sets your business apart,” said Alexa Wood, a marketing major. “For Rockin’ Baker, it’s their social mission. There are various other bakeries in NWA, but no one has the same mission and values as her, and that’s why people are loyal to her business. If you can provide something of value to customers, that’s when you get their repeat business and loyalty.”
With themes of “rising up to empower others” and “natural ingredients for the natural state,” Creative Lense team members promoted the bakery’s fresh bread and its mission to train workers in artisan baking skills, safe food handling, quality control and other marketable skills.
“Students overall embraced the social mission of Rockin’ Baker and did their best in fully understanding the challenges and limitations,” said Daymara Baker, founder and chief executive officer of the bakery. “Some of them went beyond their assignment to provide additional support to grow the business.”
The second place team, Avenue Advertising, pitched ideas for their ad campaign and used “baking a difference” to project the good work Rockin’ Baker does in empowering others through job training.
“Ultimately, we were trying to create a campaign that would be extremely low-cost, sustainable, and effective in order that Rockin’ Baker can grow and increase capital stability,” said Rachel Simpson, Avenue Advertising team member and a junior with a double major in marketing and accounting.
The integrated marketing project is a junior/senior level class and provides a hands-on experience to get students ready for the job market.
“It is a challenging yet very rewarding experience for the students. Ultimately, they are able to gain experience in two distinct advertising agency roles – that of the creative designer as well as the account executive,” Velliquette said. “Many of them have the goal of working in some capacity for an ad agency. And even those that may have other plans, the real world experience provides great resume and job interview material for the students. Many past students have told me how proud they were of their work and that during interviews, it helped them to land an internship or job.”
Information moves markets. That’s something every business student understands – or should.
Jessica Darby wrote her honors thesis on the relationship of rice markets and information while she was a University of Arkansas undergraduate. Now, as a doctoral candidate in the university’s Sam M. Walton College of Business, she’s studying ways that timely and accurate information flowing out of the supply chain can help rice farmers in Arkansas and around the world.
Darby researches how rice farmers get their information about markets and how they make decisions based on that information. She’s asking farmers if better sources of information, additional resources and more analytical tools can be developed to help with market decisions.
In spring 2017, Darby gained support for this research by winning a prestigious and highly competitive Adam Smith Fellowship from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The one-year fellowship for graduate students – which includes a quarterly stipend – can total up to $10,000. Fellows also are eligible to apply for conference and research support.
“I believe that working with the Mercatus Center will help me develop market-based tools and address relevant policy levers to reduce the information burden for farmers,” Darby said. “I want to articulate the power of markets in agricultural supply chains.”
Her research can also be a powerful tool in helping the farmers and the economy of Arkansas. Arkansas is the largest rice-growing state in the nation, with the crop grown on 1.3 million acres each year, mainly in eastern Arkansas counties stretching from Louisiana to Missouri.
Darby’s interest in commodities such as rice and the behavior of commodity markets was sparked by an internship as a commodity analyst with an Arkansas-based global trading and sourcing company, and a second internship with one of the largest shippers of grain on the inland river system. The latter gave her insight into the role that public information – especially United States Department of Agriculture reports – plays in decisions.
“In both roles, I was responsible for producing regional analysis to determine potential growth and necessary defense strategies to adapt to changing market and political environments,” Darby said.
Darby was introduced to free-market concepts and information’s impact on commodity trading and pricing through a Walton College supply chain class on capitalism and a class on futures and options in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. The latter class sparked an interest in working with Andrew McKenzie, a professor of agricultural economics and agri-business.
“He introduced me to Milo Hamilton’s book, When Rice Shakes the World,” Darby said. “Hamilton discusses the implications of policies on the functioning of global rice markets and argues for a ‘freer, market-oriented way for rice.’”
McKenzie directed Darby’s honors thesis on rice futures markets. The two published that research in the U of A undergraduate research journal Inquiry and then extended the research. Darby presented this extended research as a paper at the NCCC-134 Applied Commodity Price Analysis, Forecasting and Risk Management Conference. The two then co-authored an article on the topic – “Information Content of USDA Rice Reports and Price Reactions of Rice Futures” – that was published in Agribusiness: An International Journal.
“Our research shows that the USDA provides the rice futures market with important information needed by Arkansas rice mills and farmers to market their crops,” McKenzie said. “The Arkansas Farm Bureau notes that Arkansas farmers produce more than 9 billion pounds of rice each year, which generates billions of dollars to the state’s economy and accounts for approximately 25,000 jobs, crucial to rural communities.”
The impact of such research on Arkansas and its economy inspires Darby to continue to dig into the topic. “It’s important to me that my research connect to industry,” Darby said. “I have to see the practical application for both farmers and agri-businesses – especially those involved in the food supply chains here in Arkansas.”
McKenzie added that, in an era of declining federal budgets, the kind of research he and Darby have produced provides economic justification for the continued publication of USDA reports. Darby said that it also illustrates an opportunity for the private sector to provide additional valuable information.
“Our results undoubtedly show that USDA reports play a vital role in helping futures markets to discover price and that this is particularly important for the U.S. rice market, where there is a paucity of private data and forecasts to supplement government numbers,” McKenzie said. “However, our research also highlights the fact that rice futures are a thinly traded market with low liquidity and volume.”
McKenzie and Darby are currently engaged in potential research to explore factors that may be driving low trading levels, which increases uncertainty for farmers. Darby said the aim is to determine potential solutions to increase volume and open interest through both regulatory changes and private information provided by partners in the supply chain.
Darby earned a B.S.B.A. in economics from the Walton College in 2015 and a Walton M.B.A. in 2016. She says her passion for reading, research and free-market capitalism left no doubt she would enter Walton’s doctoral program right away. Winning the Adam Smith Fellowship is pushing that passion into a whole different realm, though.
“I believe that it will enable me to examine and better articulate the power of markets in global agricultural supply chains,” Darby said, “as well as the power of global agricultural supply chains in the structuring of global markets.”