Jack Kinnaman, Founder of Kinco Constructors, Dies at 86

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Jack Kinnaman, 86, died Thursday morning at his home in Little Rock, his son Art confirmed to Arkansas Business.

Kinnaman founded Kinco Constructors LLC of Little Rock in 1974, and over the course of a long career his company left its mark on projects throughout the state, including Donald R. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock. His firm also led projects for Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville and the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home is handling the funeral, and arrangements are pending. Arkansas Business will update this story.

“He was a lot of things to me,” Art Kinnaman said. “He was my father, and he was my mentor in so many ways, as far as what it means to be a gentleman and a Christian, and a good husband and father and friend. And he taught me really everything I know about business, and the importance of integrity, and how you treat people that you have the good fortune to work with and work for. He was real special.

“I quote [his] lessons to those that will listen every week, and this is the kind of the gift that keeps on giving.”

Born in Puxico, Missouri, Kinnaman came to Arkansas by way of southern Illinois. By 1976, he had made Kinco into one of the state’s first non-union contractors. 

In 2001, Kinnaman transferred ownership of the company to four long-time executives — Tom Wasson, Danny Wooldridge, Doug Wasson and Chick Furrer — by selling them Kinco stock. That same year, Wasson succeeded him as president and CEO.

Art Kinnaman called his father “the epitome of a professional constructor” with many career lessons to impart.

The son said his father taught him and his siblings to give back to their community, to give back to whatever industry supported them, and to enjoy their work. 

Kinnaman once told his son, “If you ain’t having fun, you need to go do something else because not every day is going to be a great day, but most days ought to be good days. And you ought to love what you do, because you’re going to spend more time with these people that you work with than you do with your own family in a lot of ways.”

Art Kinnamon said his father also emphasized the importance of a work-life balance, the importance of placing God first, family second and business third. 

Also in 2001, Kinnaman and his daughter, Anne, joined slightly better-known artists such as Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Darrell Scott and Delbert McClinton in recording a CD of songs written by Texas songwriting legend Guy Clark. The CD was a gift to Clark on his 60th birthday. 

Kinnaman told Arkansas Business that he and Clark became friends when Kinnaman began bringing the songwriter to Little Rock once a year to perform at an appreciation dinner for subcontractors.

He was a hunter, too. Art Kinnaman reminisced about learning from his father when to blow a duck call and how to back up a trailer in the dark amid clamorous hunting buddies. 

In 2013, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock awarded Kinnaman an honorary degree in construction education. He is considered one of the founding fathers of the university’s construction management program and funded the Jack Kinnaman Constructor Endowed Scholarship as well as the Phyllis Kinnaman Memorial Scholarship. 

He also served as a fellow and former president of the American Institute of Constructors. He was honored as Arkansas Business Executive of the Year in 1996. In 2002, he was inducted into the Arkansas Construction Hall of Fame.