Newton, IA-based The Vernon Company (asi/351700) announces that Chairman Bill Vernon is celebrating 60 years with the Top 40 distributor, first established in 1902. Vernon joined his family’s company in 1956 after completing college and a tour of duty with the U.S. Army.
In 1969, Vernon became the company’s president, and later transitioned to the role of chairman and CEO after his father, Bill Vernon, Sr., passed away in 1974. Since the beginning of Vernon’s long career at The Vernon Company, annual sales at the fourth-generation family business have grown from $5 million in 1956 to $70 million this year.
“My father has been the most instrumental person in the company’s success over the past six decades,” said CEO Chris Vernon in a statement. “His contribution to this company, to the industry and to our family is remarkable and is an important legacy in the company’s history.”
Vernon was named PPAI’s Chairman of the Board in 1971, inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1985, named Counselor’s Person of the Year in 1986 and received the Marvin Spike Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. Outside the industry, he is the founder of the Iowa Games, a series of Olympics-style events for Iowans, and the creator of the Iowa Sports Foundation, and he is a past chairman of the Des Moines Civic Center. He was a member of the Board of Directors for the Des Moines Art Center and Wells Fargo Iowa Board, a civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for Iowa and a delegate at the recent Republican National convention. He also helped found Progress Industries in Newton, IA, a nonprofit that provides special needs individuals with vocational and life skills opportunities.
“I’ve had a perfect balance between civic and business activities over the years,” said Vernon in a statement. “Being involved has helped shape my pride and enthusiasm for this company, my home town and the state of Iowa. I hope that the involvement I have had, professionally and personally over the past six decades, has left a lasting impression and that my family and our company will continue to build on that legacy.”
The Vernon Company is ranked 26th on Counselor’s list of top distributors, with an estimated $70.1 million in 2015 revenue.