University of Northern Iowa



Vernon Company: A dialogue on Navigating Your Family Through Generational Transitions

Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018
Vernon Company family
Vernon is one of less than 30 firms in the United States that is over 100 years old, has been continuously owned/managed by the same family without interruption and is in the same line of business as during its founding in 1902. Less than 3% of family businesses survive past the third generation and under 1% survive past 4 generations.” – Norman Cohn, Chairman, ASI Publications 
Founded in 1902, The Vernon Company markets promotional advertising based solutions for corporate identity needs, including promoting new products or services, improving market share, increasing sales, building customer loyalty, improving safety and morale, thanking customers and employees.
According to founder, F.L. Vernon, “Vernon’s primary mission is to help other businesses grow and prosper.”
Successful leadership succession and orderly ownership transition in a privately-held business are arguably the most challenging and complex processes to get right yet are extremely important to successfully transition a business through several generations of family ownership. Vernon Company can attribute much of its success over many decades because they had an outside board with independent directors that forced them to professionalize their business processes and make tough (good) decisions for the long-term success of the enterprise as well as help maintain cohesiveness among extended family members.
Chris Vernon, the fourth-generation president and chief operating officer of the Vernon Co., will share some of the tools, tips, processes and firsthand experience during our next Family Forum Breakfast Series, Friday, November 30th. The event starts at 7:30am at the Courtyard by Marriot in Ankeny, IA. You can register online at