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2019 Private Boards of the Year Award Winners Announced

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

Six private company boards will be honored for their business governance excellence at the upcoming 2019 Private Company Governance Summit on June 6, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

The boards of these companies were selected for recognition:

  • Gold Eagle Co.
  • Southworth International Group, Inc.
  • Herschend Enterprises
  • DAI Global, LLC
  • Vermeer Corporation
  • Graybar Electric Company, Inc.

Six private companies are being honored for governance excellence demonstrated by their fiduciary or advisory boards. The awards — to be presented at the upcoming 2019 Private Company Governance Summit on June 6th in Washington, D.C., honor private company boards that best serve their stakeholders — owners, shareholders, employees and community — with best practices in their structure and performance.

The awards were created to recognize private companies that go above and beyond legal governance requirements and commit to the highest levels of governance, whether through fiduciary or advisory boards. The awards honor the performance of the board as a whole.

The six award-winning boards represent: Gold Eagle Co., Southworth International Group, Inc., Herschend Enterprises, DAI Global, LLC, Vermeer Corporation and Graybar Electric Company, Inc.

The fourth annual Private Company Board of the Year awards are presented by Private Company Director, Directors and Boards and Family Business magazines. The awards recognize fiduciary boards (those tasked with protecting shareholders, with the authority to vote on decisions that are binding for company management) as well as advisory boards (more informal boards that have no binding regulatory role, but often a significant strategic role). Fiduciary board awards were broken down by company revenues and ownership type.

The Private Company Governance Summit — now in its seventh year, is the only national conference focused on the unique governance challenges for owners, shareholders, directors and advisory board members of closely held, family-owned and private equity-owned companies.

Dozens of private boards of directors were nominated for the 2019 Private Boards of the Year award, but six stood out for their diligence, standards and outcomes.

Gold Eagle Co.
Chicago, IL
Type of Private Board: Advisory
Approximate Annual Company Revenues: under $100 million
Company Ownership: Family-owned
Governance highlights include:

  • Board advised owners to bring in a third-party consultant to help with succession, and actively assisted with the succession.
  • Seven independent members from all disciplines, including marketing, consumer products, science and manufacturing consultants.
  • Board mediates differences of opinions between G2 and G3.
  • NextGen advisory board with seven to eight members 20- to 30-year-olds recruited from local colleges. Board members are not paid but have opted to meet four times a year. The NextGen board is used to keep the business leaders up to date on fast changes in business while giving the members experience in sitting on a board.

Southworth International Group, Inc.
Portland, ME
Type of Private Board: Fiduciary
Approximate Annual Company Revenues: $100 million-$350 million
Company Ownership: Family-owned
Governance highlights include:

  • Majority independent board with increasing gender diversity.
  • Four standing committees (audit and risk, human resources oversight, innovation and technology, and governance) which are all chaired by independent directors with formal charters.
  • In-depth onboarding process for directors, including orientation, a full day of training with management to orient the board to Southworth’s products, processes, financial status and more.
  • Annual review of the strategic plan facilitated by an outside consulted and led by the executive management team.
  • Guided, both quantitatively and qualitatively, by shareholder objectives the board requested.

Herschend Enterprises
Peachtree Corners, GA
Type of Private Board: Fiduciary
Approximate Annual Company Revenues: $350 million-$1 billion
Company Ownership: Family-owned
Governance highlights include:

  • Majority independent board.
  • An “evergreen” search for quality board members rather than waiting for a director to announce they are stepping down.
  • Three committees (governance, compensation and audit) that are able to pivot when issues change e.g. shifting from ride safety at parks to active shooter drills and possible terror threats.
  • Multifaceted self-evaluations that allow directors to rate themselves and other directors. Also, 360 evaluations every few years that allow shareholders and management to weigh in.
  • Deliberate director onboarding, giving new directors a chance to get “the lay of the land” before being put on the spot at a meeting.

DAI Global, LLC
Bethesda, MD
Type of Private Board: Fiduciary
Approximate Annual Company Revenues: $350 million-$1 billion
Company Ownership: Closely held or Employee-owned
Governance highlights include:

  • The “Board of the Future” initiative launched shortly after Boomgard became CEO in 2009 culminated in an action plan that includes refreshing the board more routinely and bringing in fresh leadership.
  • Six of the seven board members are independent.
  • Formally chartered committees are chaired by independent members.
  • The board holds “brown bags” with employees to answer any questions they may have.

Vermeer Corporation
Pella, IA
Type of Private Board: Fiduciary
Approximate Annual Company Revenues: More than $1 billion
Company Ownership: Family-owned
Governance highlights include:

  • Majority independent board.
  • Attention to enterprise risk management that predicts and plans for challenges the company may face.
  • Mandatory retirement from the board at age 70.
  • A chair that is encouraged to challenge the board’s agenda.
  • A detailed, written shareholder director qualification and development process for potential interested shareholders.

Graybar Electric Company, Inc.
Philadelphia, PA
Type of Private Board: Fiduciary
Approximate Annual Company Revenues: More than $1 billion
Company Ownership: Closely held or Employee-owned
Governance highlights include:

  • An annual board evaluation with assistance of third-party consultant that evaluates the board as a whole as well as individual members.
  • Board members must complete continuing education outside the organization (e.g., Harvard, Kellogg, KMPG, American Management Association, NYSE) at least every other year.
  • The board adopted part of the New York statute called the constituency statute. The board must take into consideration what’s in the best interest of five constituencies: employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers and the communities in which the company operates.
  • Each director is expected to visit at least 10 of the company’s branches each year to stay in touch with operations and understand the scope of the business.

About MLR Media

MLR Media publishes Directors & Boards, Family Business and Private Company Director magazines, and produces the Private Company Governance Summit, along with the Transitions Conferences (Spring and Fall) and Family Business Generational Wealth. mlrmedia.com @privatecodir, @directorsboards, @fambizmagazine.

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