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Paying Back the Past and Betting on the Future

A few weeks ago we announced that our president, Chas Withers, will succeed me as CEO in July.  After working on the succession for several years, our focus gradually narrowed to a moment in time. But shortly after the announcement I was surprised by how quickly that moment gave way to the full sweep of D&E’s history.  More on that in a minute.

Chas has steadily taken on elements of the role, and he’s already proven he can do the job.  I’ll continue to work full-time as executive chairman, spending more of my time partnering with clients.  It has all the hallmarks of a win-win-win, and for that I feel a lot of gratitude to a great many people.

First, to Chas, who’s been a good friend and partner since well before we set him on the succession track in 2008.  And to our founding CEO Henry Eaton, another good friend and an extraordinary mentor who served for 46 years before appointing me as CEO number two.  I’m also grateful to my colleagues, a bright, creative, big-hearted, fun group of individuals who care about the firm and bring it to life every day.  And to my family, who gladly (mostly) bore the burden of a job that came home with me every day.

 

But there are so many more people – all of those who have contributed to D&E’s spirit, culture and success since Henry and John Dix started the firm in 1952.  The historical perspective I mentioned has made me powerfully aware that bringing in a wise, talented, experienced and worthy successor is the best way I can say thank you to all of them.  And they deserve so much gratitude.  The hundreds who have worked here at one point or another, many for a large share of their careers, and also their families, who supported them and enabled them to do what had to be done, whenever it had to be done, for our clients.  The thousands of people among those clients who have reached out to us to partner with them to help their organizations, who gave us great challenges to work on and to grow from and who became good friends along the way. 

As with any CEO who chooses and gives way to a successor, I was part of Henry’s payback to the past and his bet on the future.  I was privileged to be both and hope he and all the others responsible for D&E’s spirit and success would feel good about what the firm has become.  Now Chas will help me deliver on what I owe our predecessors, while he and his evolving leadership team will ensure that we have a strong future – one I’ll continue contributing to in a different way.

I’m so fortunate to be part of this small but great society that is D&E, created from the shared wishes and efforts of so many special people.  And, like any CEO who pays back and forward by handing off to a strong successor, I’m happy, proud and excited about what’s ahead.

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