J.M. Huber Corporation: Testing the limits of resilience capabilities
As circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to shift and evolve, J.M. Huber Corporation (Huber) remained focused on protecting its employees, maintaining business continuity, and on advancing its multi-year sustainability strategy. The efforts of Mike Marberry, the President & CEO, the Huber Management Council (HMC), the family shareholders, as well as company diversification, helped the company to remain stable. What is more, 2020 brought the strongest financial results in Huber’s 138-year history! But new challenges were on the horizon… One of the largest and oldest family-held companies headquartered in the US, Huber had strategically repositioned itself several times since its founding in 1883 as a dry-colors business. Visionary family leaders and a committed senior management transformed the company from a single plant in Brooklyn, New York, into an international player operating in more than 20 countries, with about half of its 4,100 employees based outside North America. Structured as a portfolio managed company (PMC), Huber has become one of the key global players in hydrocolloids, specialty chemicals, minerals, agriculture solutions and engineered wood products, with a turnover of nearly US$3.5 billion in 2021. The succession of Peter Francis, the last family President & CEO and Board Chair had come at the worst possible time ? during the Great Recession. Now Huber’s first non-family CEO & President, Mike Marberry, is planning his own succession for 2022, unaware of the impending COVID-19 crisis. Would the resilience and experience gained from the last transition provide an effective template to help the company face the next crisis and leadership change more than a decade later? Would the family rally behind Marberry and the company to once again turn this difficult moment into an opportunity to show its resilience? What role would Huber’s governance model and sustainability strategy play?