Current Edition >Last updated on Monday, February 3, 2014, 12:52 pm
Springdale businessman Darin Gray, CEO of Gray Matters LLC, said he will be leaving the company he founded a decade ago to explore new opportunities.
Gray Matters LLC is the parent company of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, which became solely owned by Gray Matters in August after operating under joint ownership since 2004.
Gray told employees in a staff meeting Jan. 24 that his final day will be Feb. 10.
Gray, who just celebrated his 49th birthday in December, said the decision to leave is bittersweet.
“It’s like raising a child for 16 years,” he explained. “You put your heart and soul and everything into it, so it’s not easy to leave. By the same token, there comes a time when your children leave the house. You know it’s time to move on so they can grow.”
Gray Matters is now 100-percent owned by The TDG Family Trust. Gray’s wife, Tami Gray, is the sole trustee.
Tami Gray has worked for the Business Journal sales office at various times since its inception, managing the special publications division.
“I feel so blessed to be working with the wonderful and talented management team at Gray Matters who produce the Business Journal and its related publications, websites and events,” she said. “I look forward to continuing our long history of providing readers and advertising clients with critical and imperative business-to-business content.”
Darin Gray said readers and advertisers will see no difference in the company or its products, noting the senior management team has been in place for several years.
Rob Gutterridge, who joined the company four years ago, was promoted to publisher in August. Paul Gatling, who began as assistant editor three years ago, is now editor and associate publisher. Beth Templeton is the company’s accounting/human resources manager.
“I won’t be running Gray Matters,” Tami Gray said. “The existing management team will continue to do that just as they have been. I will be running the family trust, which is more of an advisory role.”
The Business Journal started in April 1997 as a division of Little Rock-based Arkansas Business Publishing Group, parent company to weekly publication Arkansas Business.
Gray, a Bryant native, joined ABPG that year as associate publisher of the Business Journal. He was promoted to publisher in 1999 and president of the Northwest Arkansas division in 2003.
He became majority owner of the Business Journal and three other special publications — the Northwest Arkansas Newcomers Guide, Northwest Arkansas Guest Guide and the Northwest Arkansas Book of Lists — on June 17, 2004, when he bought controlling interest in the Northwest Arkansas division from Arkansas Business Limited Partnership, the parent company of ABPG, and formed his own company, Gray Matters.
Last summer, Gray purchased the remaining ownership stake from Olivia Farrell, general partner of ABLP, to become the Business Journal’s sole owner.
“There will always be a need for a locally owned Business Journal and locally generated editorial content specific to this region, based off of the relationships built within the community,” Gray said. “I’m so honored that this region embraced the Business Journal as the must-read publication when it comes to being in-the-know concerning business dealings in Northwest Arkansas.
“On a more personal note, I have loved watching our staff grow personally and professionally,” Gray continued. “The success of Gray Matters has always depended on the hard work and efforts of the staff. Many of our former employees still work in the region and we are very proud of them and their continued success. I don’t feel like it has ever been my job to develop a great group of followers within our company, but instead develop and encourage an incredible group of new leaders.”
Gray said his next step professionally is unclear, though his passion for the state and its communities is evident.
He’s cultivated a long list of professional relationships for more than three decades, beginning in high school, when he was elected governor of Arkansas Boys State in 1982, and continuing at the University of Arkansas, where he was elected president of the Associated Student Government and president of the Statewide Student Government Association.
After college, Gray began working for the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, and he also spent several years working in an economic development role for the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.
From 2007 to 2013, Gray served on the Arkansas Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission and was appointed last year by Gov. Mike Beebe to an additional six-year term.