Simmons Team Member Places 2nd in the 2017 AR Governor’s Cup

In the News: Simmons Prepared Foods would like to congratulate Eli Simonsen, Cost Accountant for Simmons Prepared Foods, and the John Brown University graduate team, Ghost Pot Busters, for their 2nd place win in the Agriculture Division of the 2017 AR Governor's Cup Business Plan Competition. The awards luncheon was held on April 17, 2017, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. The team also placed first in the "Elevator Pitch" Competition for the graduate division.

Members of the JBU Team Ghost Pot Busters, Kristina Arge Simonsen, Eli Simonsen, Keith Dixon, and Kelli Neuman pictured with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson at the awards luncheon. Team members not pictured; Ben Hesslen and Faviola Aguilar.

The team’s business plan was crafted around an innovative biodegradable crab pot, intended to rejuvenate the crabbing population that is facing depletion. Currently, abandoned crab pots can take up to 14 years to degrade, creating a self-baiting process which kills millions of crabs each year.

Recent government investment dedicated to cleaning up approximately 10% of the abandoned pots has resulted in a $30 million revenue increase in only one year. Based on this data, the team created a business plan to solve the issue of abandoned crab pots for the industry.

Jonathan Sparks, Cost Accounting Manager, for Simmons Prepared Foods, works with Eli and shared this, "Eli is such a pleasure to be around and a great example of living out our value of taking action. In his short time here at Simmons, he’s been relentless in asking questions in order to gain understanding. We are extremely happy for Eli’s accomplishments in the Governor’s Cup Competition and are thrilled to have him as part of our Simmons’ family."

Mark Simmons, Chairman, and Dr. Delia Haak, Adjunct Instructor, John Brown University, presented Eli, and his wife, Kristina Arge, also on the winning team, with a certificate in honor of this accomplishment.

Pictured left to right; Mark Simmons, Simmons Foods Chairman, Kristina Arge Simonsen, Eli Simonsen, Simmons Prepared Foods Cost Accountant, Dr. Delia Haak, JBU Adjunct Instructor

The Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup is the premier, statewide business plan competition for college and graduate students, showcasing the entrepreneurial talent of students from across our state. Entrepreneurs were among more than 2,500 competitors who have been a part of the Governor’s Cup’s prestigious history, representing 839 teams from 24 campuses across Arkansas. A cumulative total of $2.05 million has been awarded in cash prizes, including the $152,000 cash prize awards that were given away this year.


Simmons Prepared Foods is a farm to fork poultry producer based in Siloam Springs, Arkansas primarily serving customer brands as a supplier of premium chicken products for the foodservice industry. Known for our ability to meet demanding specifications and business integrity, Simmons supplies customized products to some of the world’s largest retailers and food chains. We are a vertically integrated producer, meaning we are dedicated to providing quality from the farm to the family dinner table.

Simmons operates 3 hatcheries and 2 feed mills which supply nearly 300 independent poultry growers and 20+ company managed farms who raise approximately 200 million chickens per year. Our 6 processing plants produce 750 million pounds of finished product per year for customer brands around the world.