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 acceptable." 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 States. * 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 States. * 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 management. * 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 lives." 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 others." 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 Governors. 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 saying: "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 would say: "'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 leadership positions.' "Finally," McFerson said, "I hope they would say, 'Here was a good, honest man.'" 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