01 Feb 2024 Packaged with care
By Donna Lampkin Stephens
With her family business marking its 25th anniversary in 2024, Sherlyn Henderson of Conway is celebrating a dream come true.
Henderson, 58, and her husband, David, own Arkansas Box, LLC. The business, family and travel have her living her best life.
“We feel blessed beyond measure,” she said. “But it’s been challenging. It’s been hard. We’ve done things we’d never done before to make this happen, but it’s very rewarding, for sure.”
A 1987 graduate of the University of Central Arkansas with a business degree, Sherlyn and her mother-in-law, Mary Henderson, opened a specialty toy store in Conway, The Treasure Chest, in 1997. David had worked in sales for corrugated companies for several years.
“He was always the idea man, and he encouraged me to open my own business,” Sherlyn said. “Later, although the toy store was a lot of fun, it was not our main source of income, and he came to me wanting to open a business of his own. With my father’s encouragement, he began talking to me about his dream of owning a corrugated box company. I knew he would be a success because he would work hard to make it a success.”
David took the leap and started Arkansas Box in 1999. But his mentor, Sherlyn’s father, Jerry Hoover, who had also worked in the corrugated business, died five months later.
“That was a big heartbreak for us in a lot of ways,” she said. “We had wanted him to be along for this journey, and we feel he has been, for sure.”
She said at first, David just needed her support and agreement, but as time passed, he needed more.
“Arkansas Box was a way for our then-young family to make a living, and his vision was that after college, it would be a place for our sons to be able to work,” she said.
Still owning The Treasure Chest, she added bookkeeping and other business duties for Arkansas Box.
“In 2000, I was stretched very thin, a mother of two energetic boys, a wife, a business owner times two,” she remembered. “I had more than a full plate. We had the opportunity to sell The Treasure Chest that year, and that gave me a lot of relief of my time and energy.”
Today she is treasurer and controller of Arkansas Box, and she also handles human resources. The company employs 70.
David is now semi-retired, but their two sons have joined their parents in the business.
“My husband’s dream came to fruition,” Sherlyn said.
David’s sister, Paige Boren, joined the company three years ago and has taken on some accounting and HR duties, allowing Sherlyn greater flexibility.
“I don’t know when I might retire,” she said. “I still enjoy the work. I have the ability to be off when I want to, which was not the case in the first 20-plus years. It was all hands on deck then, and we weren’t able to take a lot of vacations. But David and I are really enjoying taking some trips and dreaming about where we want to go next.”
They enjoy entertaining at their Beaverfork Lake home and lake house on Greers Ferry.
“We love everything family,” she said. “David started this business with our family in mind, and everything we do is family-oriented. We have a home that affords us the opportunity to have lots of people and celebrate all the best moments in life with our family and friends, so we take full advantage of that.”
That family includes their sons, Tyler and his wife, Whitney; and Hunter and his wife, Kaylee; grandsons, Carter, 8, and Blake, 4; Sherlyn’s mother, Susie Hoover; and David’s parents, Harold and Mary Henderson and Mildred Trafford. Hunter and Kaylee are expecting the first Henderson granddaughter, Harper Ann, in May.
“David and I have always parented as a team and worked as a team, and our lives have always been family-oriented,” Sherlyn said. “We supported our children’s dreams in high school and college. Our son Tyler played college baseball (at Central Baptist College), and our lives have revolved around children and grandchildren and their team sports.”
Hunter Henderson agreed his mother was the epitome of a family person.
“That’s part of the reason they built Arkansas Box, so we could work together as a family,” he said. “It’s hard work, but her attitude is: It doesn’t matter what it is; whatever we have to do, we have to do. That’s a lot of the reason we’ve grown to where we are.
“She’s the thing that holds it all together. She’s the glue to the puzzle.”
In recent years, the couple has traveled to Maine, Colorado and Mexico, in addition to weekend trips around the state. For 2024, Belize is on the itinerary. Sherlyn is also starting to plan a trip to Alaska with her mother and David.
She said she has to look no further than her mother and in-laws for inspiration on living well.
“They are poster children for aging, for sure.”
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