Private Company Director

Between These Covers (or webpages)

I was struck recently by reports that Hagerty, the classic car insurer, was going public via a SPAC that values the family-owned business at  $3.35 billion. With a “B.”

In July 2020, another family business, Vertex Inc., debuted via IPO on Nasdaq with a $3.16 billion (that’s also a “B”) market capitalization. The tax software innovator was founded in 1978 and was owned by the second generation when it went public.

The two family companies have something else in common — great governance and our magazine.

Hagerty was one of the first private companies to win Private Company Director’s annual Private Company Boards of the Year award in 2016. Among the company’s many governance best practices was a separate chairman and CEO and a majority-independent board. Second-generation CEO McKeel Hagerty has since attended and spoken at our annual Private Company Governance Summit.

Of the SPAC merger, McKeel said in August that it was not a sale of the company, simply a restructuring. He will continue to serve as CEO and the Hagerty family will continue to hold controlling stock.

Vertex Inc. started at Ray and Antionette Westphal’s kitchen table in 1978. What began as a business providing paper copies of sales tax manuals is now a technology corporation that has real-time updates for sales tax rates for all 11,000 tax jurisdictions in the country.

The Vertex board earned a Private Company Board of the Year award in 2018. Its governance highlights included director compensation high enough to draw top talent and the use of an outside expert to evaluate the board regularly.

The Westphal family has joined us several times, at both the Private Company Governance Summit and Transitions, our family business conference, generously speaking on a number of family and business topics.

We are proud that we recognized the stellar governance practices of these two now-public companies. And we are proud that we are able to share their governance journeys with you. Offering learning from the experiences of others — not only billion-dollar private companies planning to go public, but also multi-generational family business owners who have maintained their ownership and governance through many generations — is our reason for being.

I encourage you to take a look at the governance highlights of the 2021 Private Company Boards of the Year in this issue and read the stories of past winners on our website. You can grab a pen and paper (or smartphone, I suppose) and spend a little time listing the qualities your governance holds and which ones you’d like to add.

One of the winners this year, Ulteig Engineers Inc., also provided this issue’s back-of-book feature, “Our Board Evolution,” which shares pivotal moments in the company’s governance journey.

A wealth of resources can be found in these pages and in our digital space. I encourage you to use them all to their fullest. In this issue alone, you will find our updated board compensation data, recognition of top private company directors and the insights of key private company board members, chairs and owners, which can help your company build out and maintain a great board.

And if your governance exhibits best governance practices, I invite you to nominate yourself for recognition.

You can find the nomination form, as well as our past honorees, at https://www.private

companydirector.com/private-company-boards-of-the-year.


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