COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Dimon R. McFerson, Chairman and CEO
of Nationwide, today announced he would retire from his post effective the end
of year 2000, devoting greater time to his life's commitments.
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000516/CLTU018 )
"While being CEO is more than a full-time job, I've worked hard to achieve
a balanced and rich life outside of work," McFerson said. "So as I step away
from Nationwide, I will be increasing the time I spend on things that give my
life special meaning-my family, my faith and my community."
The father of seven and grandfather of 21, most of whom live in Columbus,
McFerson said he is looking forward to more time with his wife, Darlene, and
the rest of his family.
McFerson, 63, was elected CEO in December, 1992. "I said from the
beginning that I intended to retire before age 65, so it was no surprise to
the Board when I informed them of my plans over a year ago," he said.
A successor has not been named. Nationwide's Board of Directors has been
conducting its selection process and will announce its decision in time for an
orderly transition process.
Board Chairman Arden Shisler said, "Nationwide will forever remember that
Dimon brought the organization into the millennium in the strongest financial
condition in its history and positioned this organization for future growth
beyond the wildest dreams of our founders. His leadership has set Nationwide
on a clear course for a strong, successful future."
McFerson emphasized that the transition to his successor will be a smooth
one. "Change is a constant in business as in life. Our culture embraces
change, and Nationwide will remain stable and strong," he said.
Leading a 'revolution'
In December 1993, a year after being named CEO, McFerson unveiled to
employees and agents his vision for the organization with a call to action:
"Get ready for the revolution that is coming. Business as usual is not
From the beginning of his tenure as CEO in 1992, McFerson set as his key
objective strategically positioning Nationwide for strength and growth in the
new century. He outlined the need to develop a strong leadership team at
every level, focus on core businesses and grow those businesses through
expansion and acquisition.
In accomplishing these objectives, McFerson:
* Tripled the assets of Nationwide from $37.6 billion at the end of 1992
to more than $115 billion at the end of 1999. Nationwide ranks number
128 on the list of Fortune 500 companies based on revenues and 29th
based on assets.
* Took public in 1997 the company's long-term savings holding company,
Nationwide Financial Services, gaining access to the capital markets and
infusing the organization with public company performance standards. And
Nationwide Life Insurance Company has grown to be the country's 10th
largest life insurer based on assets, while Nationwide Insurance is the
fifth largest auto and fifth largest homeowners insurer in the United
* Developed a diverse, deep leadership team throughout the organization.
* Divested non-core businesses such as Nationwide Communications, a
collection of radio stations throughout the country, and large
commercial insurer Wausau Insurance, among others.
* Reintroduced the Nationwide brand as a vibrant, customer-focused force
to serve as a long-term competitive advantage in a changing marketplace.
* Initiated an aggressive program of strategic acquisitions, including
Allied Insurance in 1998, an independent agent organization, which
allowed Nationwide Insurance to expand its sales throughout the United
* Organized Nationwide Global Holdings and introduced global expansion
with acquisitions and partnerships in Asia, Europe and South America,
including the recently announced acquisition of London-based Gartmore
Investment Management, which has more than $85 billion in assets under
* Reaffirmed Nationwide's commitment to Columbus and the downtown, forever
changing its skyline with the addition of the Nationwide Arena. The
Arena and its adjacent Arena District contribute to a solid downtown
Columbus and strengthen the company's national brand recognition.
Saving lives on the highways
McFerson is one of the insurance industry's leading advocates of auto and
highway safety, leading the efforts of Nationwide and the industry in air
bags, seat belts, anti-drunk driving, and vehicle safety. In his two-year
term as chairman of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, McFerson
initiated and led the fundraising campaign for a state-of-the-art Vehicle
Research Center used to crash test cars for safety.
"Dimon is a committed, visionary leader who galvanizes others for the
cause at hand," said Brian O'Neill, president of the IIHS. "Under his
leadership, we had the Vehicle Research Center funded and built in less than
two years. Our testing programs at the Center have led to major safety
advances in the cars driven by millions of Americans, saving thousands of
At Nationwide, McFerson initiated Prom Promise, a program used by high
schools to provide students with a drug-and alcohol-free prom night. Now in
its tenth year, the program in 1998 had more than 3 million teens
participating in 3,700 schools. To date, there have been no fatal or serious-
injury accidents caused by students signing the Prom Promise Pledge.
'Responsibility to help others'
"I truly enjoy rendering service in the not-for-profit sector," McFerson
said. "Because I have been so richly blessed, I believe I have a
responsibility to give my energies, my time and my resources in helping
McFerson's service includes his current roles as Chairman of the United
Way of America Board of Governors and as Chairman of the International Co-
operative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF). He recently concluded, as
first vice chair, a six-year term on the American Red Cross Board of
McFerson's state and local community service includes his roles as Vice
Chair of the Columbus Foundation and board member of the Greater Columbus
Chamber of Commerce, recently concluding two years as chair.
McFerson also has served on the board of the Ohio Center of Science and
Industry (COSI) for 19 years, the last 13 as its board chair, leading the
science museum's move last year to a new $125 million facility, which has
received national and international acclaim.
He was board chairman of Ohio Dominican College for seven years, and also
served as chairman of the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Board of
Trustees. Last week McFerson was appointed by Gov. Bob Taft as a Trustee for
The Ohio State University.
As a leader for community organizations, he also has stressed the
expansion of diversity, championing the effort to bring strong women leaders
to such organizations as the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, COSI and
the American Red Cross.
He was honored in March 1997 with the Tree of Life Award from the National
Jewish Fund for exemplary leadership and humanitarian service, and in June
1997 with the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Columbus Chapter of the
American Red Cross. In May 1999 he was honored with the top award from the
Columbus Chapter of the American Cancer Society, and in October 1999 he was
inducted into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame.
McFerson, an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints (Mormon), said he also intends to expand his work for the church.
'A good, honest man'
At the end of "On Your Side," the Nationwide book written by Peter
Franklin, former business editor of the Columbus Dispatch, McFerson was asked
about how he would like to be remembered. He was quoted in the 1994 book as
"When the dust settles, and McFerson is gone, they'll say, 'What did he do
while he was here at Nationwide? What was his contribution?' I hope they
"'He aggressively expanded these companies into new markets in America; he
made the companies competitive, and he put in place an organization full of
excellent, talented men and women of all colors, each capable of assuming
"Finally," McFerson said, "I hope they would say, 'Here was a good, honest
Recalling McFerson's comments, board chairman Shisler said, "Our board is
unanimous in the view that Dimon accomplished all of these goals and he is,
without question, a good, honest man."
SOURCE Nationwide Financial