In this issue
Highlights magazine, revered by young readers and their parents since its founding nearly 75 years ago, presents educational content in format so subtle that children don’t even notice they’re learning. Seeking out images in a “Hidden Pictures” puzzle or pondering the behavior of recurring characters Goofus and Gallant just seems like entertainment.
Our family business, E. Ritter & Company (ERC), was founded in the 1880s as a general merchandise store. ERC entered the communications business in 1906 when our founder, Ernest Ritter, installed a 10-line telephone switch in the back of his general merchandise store. Today Ritter Communications, a subsidiary of ERC, offers advanced internet, phone, video services and cloud solutions to wholesale, business and residential customers, primarily in Arkansas and Tennessee.
Last year, someone asked me a simple question that led to quite a bit of thought and discussion: How do I know if my family office is successful? The most common initial answers (investment returns, tax benefits) feel flippant and incomplete. One former family office president said, “I considered each year a success if I didn’t screw anything up … (long pause) badly.”
Pay decisions and processes are key components of a company’s talent strategy. As your company’s overall business strategy evolves, so too must its pay philosophy and programs. Leaders often rely on their own experience or on their boards for compensation advice. However, there are times when an outside compensation consultant can be a valuable resource.
Whether an adult son or daughter is eager to understand the ins and outs of the family business or a curious grandchild expresses passion for creating a difference in the world using impact investing strategies, a family’s rising generation needs opportunities for development and leadership more than ever. There are many ways for the rising generation to find a voice and engagement within their family enterprise.
Growing up, I looked forward to receiving the latest issue of Highlights magazine, the publication whose family owners are featured on the cover of this edition of Family Business. I would immediately turn to the Picture Puzzler page, a section that contains two seemingly identical pictures with a task to find the differences between them. Today, my two young daughters, who are now subscribers to Highlights, experience the same excitement when the newest issue of the magazine arrives. Like their father, they immediately turn to the Picture Puzzler page.
Carey Jaros, a non-family executive who had servedas as chief operating officer at GOJO Industries, has been promoted to president and CEO of the Akron, Ohio-based inventor of Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer.
With the promotion of Jaros, effective Jan. 1, the top two leaders of the company are now women. Third-generation family member Marcella Kanfer Rolnick became GOJO’s executive chair in May 2018. She is responsible for vision setting, long-term strategy, sound governance and stewardship of the family values and culture.
E. Ritter & Company, a Marked Tree, Ark.-based portfolio company currently focused on agriculture and telecommunications, elects its family council members. The Ritter Family Council consists of three branch representatives — one chosen from each of the three family branches — and four at-large members, elected by the whole family. Council service, originally limited to blood descendants, now is open to married-ins.
Generation of family ownership: Second. We’re a holding company that owns various petroleum and healthcare businesses, and an investment portfolio. My father started Flying J, a travel center operator, and we purchased a convenience store company called Maverik from our cousins in 2012.
Revenue: $4 billion.
Number of employees: 7,000 across our companies.
Years with the company: 10 as CEO.