In September 2016, Bill Vernon, CAS, chairman of The Vernon Company (UPIC: Vernon), marked a career and company milestone by becoming the first person in the Newton, Iowa, distributor’s 114-year history to celebrate 60 continuous years of service in its corporate office.
Vernon joined his family’s company in 1956, after college and a tour of duty overseas in the U.S. Army. He was elected president of The Vernon Company in 1969 and became the chairman and CEO after the death of his father, Bill Vernon, Sr., in 1974. During his 60-year tenure, the company’s annual sales grew from $5 million in 1956 to $70 million today.
“My father has been the most instrumental person in the company’s success over the past six decades,” says Chris Vernon, MAS, current CEO. “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 chairman of the board of PPAI in 1971, inducted into the PPAI 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 of the industry, Vernon has also left his mark on the state of Iowa. He was the founder of the Iowa Games and the creator of the Iowa Sports Foundation. He served as chairman of the Des Moines Civic Center, was a member of the board of directors for the Des Moines Art Center, and served on the Wells Fargo Iowa Board for almost 30 years. He was also a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army for Iowa and a delegate to the Republican Party National Convention. Additionally, he served on the board and helped co-found Progress Industries in Newton, Iowa—a nonprofit organization designed to provide job skills and independence for citizens with disabilities.
“I’ve had a perfect balance between civic and business activities over the years,” says Vernon. “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.”