W.S. Badger Co. in Gilsum has appointed Emily Schwerin-Whyte and Rebecca Hamilton, daughters of founder and CEO Bill Whyte and COO Katie Schwerin, as co-CEOs of the family-owned business. Bill Whyte will continue in the role as founder of the company and Katie will remain as its chief operating officer.
According to a statement, succession planning that incorporates co-CEOs is not unheard of for second-generation, family-owned businesses. However, true to its roots of collaboration, transparency, and individual responsibility in a team concept, Badger’s version of the title is ‘collaborative executive officer.’
In addressing company employees, Bill says “My new title is, ‘founder.’ To me, that’s profound, and it says it all, that I had the persistence and good fortune to turn an idea into reality and that I had the support of a community of good people who helped make that vision far greater and more successful than I ever imagined.”
It was twenty-three years ago that Bill Whyte, a carpenter at the time, created a single, simple balm that today has grown into a global business with over one hundred natural and organic products, ranging from lip and body balms to hair oils, bug repellents, and award-winning mineral sunscreens. Badger is equally known for its unique company philosophy, pioneering family-friendly benefits, and B Corp community engagement, all of which has earned it numerous awards and recognition, including landing a spot on Forbes’ “Small Giants 2017: America’s Best Small Companies” list.
“My sister Emily and I have grown up watching our parents shape Badger into something truly special and enduring. And for the past decade, we've been fortunate to work alongside them, helping to guide operations and long-term strategic planning while gaining experience as leaders in our industry. Now, as our father steps into the role of wise founder and supporting visionary, it's an honor for my sister and me to co-lead Badger’s future and strategic visioning,” says Rebecca Hamilton, co-CEO at Badger.
For new co-CEOs Emily and Rebecca, as well as for Badger employees, day-to-day operations at the company will remain much the same, with both daughters retaining their current roles of vice president of sales and marketing, and vice president of research and product development respectively. However, as part of co-leading Badger, both will take a more active, public-facing role in representing the company and ensuring its continued growth and success.
Bill says, “CEO carry’s a great weight and responsibility. They hold the well-being of the company as a whole, and they take action to keep us steady whatever comes our way! And they do all of this in consultation with and with the support of all of us. Really, my daughters Emily and Rebecca and wife Katie have been doing this for years.