Newton, Iowa-based The Vernon Co., makers of graphics products, point-of-purchase signage and promotional products, announces that the company chairman, Bill Vernon, is the first person in the company’s 114-year history to celebrate 60 years of continuous employment.
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 Co. in 1969 and became 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.
In addition to his contributions to his company, Vernon was well known in the graphics and promotional products worlds. He was named chairman of the board of Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) in 1971, inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1985, named the Counselor’s Person of the Year in 1986 and awarded the Marvin Spike Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.
Outside of work hours, Vernon gave back to his beloved Iowa. He was the founder of the Iowa Games, a multi-sport, Olympic-style competition featuring all age groups. Vernon was also creator of the Iowa Sports Foundation; was 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 designed to provide job skills and independence for citizens with disabilities.
“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,” Vernon says.
The Vernon Co. is a fourth-generation family business founded in 1902. It has more than 30,000 customers and employs nearly 300 account executives and sales managers throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. It also employs more than 200 administrative and production employees at its Newton headquarters and two sign graphics manufacturing subsidiaries in Missouri and New Jersey.
Adds his son, Chris Vernon, the company’s current CEO: “My father has been the most instrumental person in the company’s success over the past six decades. His contribution to this company, to the industry and to our family is remarkable and is an important legacy in the company’s history.”