The Clemens Family Corporation

The Clemens Family Corporation, founded in 1895, is headquartered in Hatfield, Pa. The company employs more 

than 3,500 team members and generates over $1 billion in annual revenues. It consists of two business units: Clemens Food Group and Clemens Development.

Clemens Food Group is a pork production company whose operations include hog farming, food production, logistical services and transportation. Its brands include Hatfield and Farm Promise. Clemens Food Group owns and operates facilities in Hatfield, Pa., Emmaus, Pa., and Coldwater, Mich.

Clemens Development owns and manages a portfolio of industrial, agricultural and commercial retail property throughout Pennsylvania. 

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Family Business honored 30 outstanding family businesses:

A. Duda & Sons Inc.

The Agnew Family Enterprise

The Biltmore Company

Bush Brothers & Company

Crescent Electric Supply Co. 

Day & Zimmermann

Dot Foods Inc.

The Duchossois Group

E. Ritter & Company

Elkay Manufacturing Company 

Flanagan Foodservice Inc.

Herschend Enterprises

Hussey Seating Company

IDEAL Industries Inc.

Kiolbassa Provision Company

Laird Norton Company

Lloyd Companies

Lundberg Family Farms

Lyles Family Enterprise

MacLean-Fogg Company

Mannington Mills Inc.

Menasha Corporation

Midmark Corporation

Port Blakely

Sheetz Inc.

Vermeer Corporation

Vertex Inc.

W.S. Darley & Co.

Wittwer Hospitality/Boulevard Home

There are more than 750 family members, ranging from the second through seventh generations. Of these, 340 are shareholders. Because the Clemens family is very large, governance and logistical challenges must be managed.

The family has established two family governance bodies: the Clemens Family Council, which is responsible for maintaining a strong, cohesive family connection, and the Clemens Family Owners Board, which is responsible for creating shareholder policies that ensure sustainability of the business.

In addition, the family has developed a comprehensive set of family policies and governance documents. At the center is the company’s mission statement, rooted in the family’s Christian beliefs, and the core values of ethics, integrity and stewardship.

In response to business challenges in the 1990s that required strong leadership, the family made changes that stakeholders refer to as “transitioning from a family business to a business family.” In the restructuring, the board shifted to majority-independent.

A new culture of performance and accountability was created, while preserving the family values. The changes have paid off handsomely with increased return on investment for shareholders. According to the Clemens family employment policy, family members who are qualified for open positions at the company are eligible to apply, as long as they have worked outside the business a minimum of two years.

Business is not discussed at family meetings or gatherings; the focus is on the family legacy and heritage, as well as having fun and connecting with each other. Business discussions are reserved for shareholder meetings.
Fourth-generation family member Doug Clemens became CEO in 2014. The occasion was marked by a literal passing of the baton from his predecessor, third-generation member Phil Clemens. Under Phil’s leadership, the company instituted mandatory retirement at age 65.

Doug had participated in a “Lessons in Leadership” mentoring program for fourth- and fifth-generation members involved in the business. The aim of the program, instituted by Phil in 2002, was to identify potential successor candidates.

In total there are 28 family members working in the business: 22 full time, two part-time and four summer interns.

Article categories: 
Issue: 
September/October 2019

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