E. Ritter & Company Implements succession play and names officers

Thursday, January 24, 2013

E. Ritter & Company, a fifth-generation family-owned business located in Northeast Arkansas, earned national recognition last year when it was featured in Family Business magazine for its focus on corporate governance and succession planning.

Dan Hatzenbuehier (left) , chairman of the board, E. Ritter & Company, and Chip Dickinson, CEO, E. Ritter & Company. (photo provided

As part of the succession plan, which has been in the works for several years, the Company announced several new roles and transitions among its leadership team. Effective Jan. 1, Dan Hatzenbuehler stepped down as CEO but has retained the position of Chairman of the Board, and Charles R. "Chip" Dickinson, Jr. was named CEO.

In addition, two more members of the executive team assumed new positions. Ritter Arnold, who has been the President of Ritter Agribusiness Holdings, has been named Executive Vice President for External Affairs and Kenny Traynom became President of Ritter Agribusiness Holdings.

In Hatzenbuehler's role as Chairman, his primary responsibility will be the performance of the Board as an effective force for corporate governance and oversight. He will also devote more time and energy to strategic issues on the family side of Ritter. "The Ritter family is at the very core of this organization," Hatzenbuehler said. "I look forward to working more closely with the Family Council and the younger generations to facilitate more effective communications, and forge a stronger bond, between the family and the Board."

Chip Dickinson was hired as President of E. Ritter & Company in 2011 and previously held several positions with Anderson -Tully Company, a timber management and hardwood lumber company, serving as President from 2003 until he joined Ritter in 2011. In his new role, Dickinson will be focused on operations within Ritter Communications Holdings and Ritter Agribusiness Holdings.

"I've had the unique opportunity of observing Dan as our CEO for the past year, while also preparing for my new role," said Dickinson. "I have learned a lot about this company and I admire the productive relationships that exist among its board members, family members, employees, customers and the communities it serves."

Ritter Arnold has assumed primary responsibility for the company's external affairs, focusing on the relationships its divisions have with the communities they serve and on the company's wide-ranging philanthropic interests. In addition to being a fourth-generation family member with 33 years of service to the company, Arnold has also volunteered extensively in leadership roles for organizations such as Arkansas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, Methodist Family Health, Eastern Arkansas Boy Scout Council and the Arkansas Agricultural Council. He currently serves on the boards of Arkansas Children's Hospital Foundation and Arkansas Research Alliance.

Kenny Traynom will lead the Agribusiness Division of E. Ritter & Company, which currently operates Ritter Farms, Ritter Farms Management, Ritter Grain Services and is a partner in RHM Gin. Prior to joining Ritter in 2010, he served in strategic and financial roles with Morgan Keegan & Company, Monsanto, Valent and as a financial advisor to various companies and family businesses in the agricultural sector. As President of Ritter Agribusiness Holdings, Traynom will provide senior executive direction and oversight to existing and future initiatives, including partnerships and joint ventures.

"This is a time of high confidence and excitement here at Ritter," said Hatzenbuehler. "We have the right people in the right places within the company's executive team for continued success, and I believe our future is more promising than ever."

About E. Ritter & Company

E. Ritter & Company, parent to Ritter Agribusiness and Ritter Communications, was founded in Marked Tree, Ark., in 1886. Ritter Agribusiness is located in Marked Tree and currently offers farm management and grain services.

Ritter Communications began providing phone service in northeast Arkansas in 1906 and in December 2012 acquired Millington Telephone and Millington Cable in West Tennessee. Ritter Communications' residential and business services include local and long distance phone service, cable television and high speed Internet, as well as customized business communications systems and services, including Web and e-mail hosting, custom networking, virtual services, hosted applications and remote data back-up services. For more information, visit www.getritter.info and www.ritterag.com.

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