Spokane Journal of Business

Area’s elder statesmen are STILL ON BOARD

Retired execs stay involved with corporate, nonprofit boards to keep active, help out

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Larry Stanley is 79 years old, retired, and a self-proclaimed workaholic. Hes also not alone.

Retired once-prominent executives here might not punch the clock anymore, but rather than spend their sunset years perfecting their golf swings, many have stayed engaged in the business community by serving on the boards of corporations and nonprofit organizations.

Such executives say they continue to serve on boards primarily so they can remain active, stay plugged into the business world, and enjoy camaraderie with other professionals. They also feel a keen sense of duty to keep contributing to the Spokane area. In turn, businesses say they gain from the wealth of knowledge and experience the executives gathered through decades spent sharpening their skills.

Stanley, who founded Spokane-based Empire Bolt & Screw Inc. in 1972 and retired from his position as CEO there about four years ago, has served on numerous boards here, including a stint as chairman of Spokane-based Avista Corp. He says he doesnt plan to slow his community involvement anytime soon.

I thought I would retire a lot earlier, but it gets in your blood. I love business. I probably will never really get away from it, Stanley says. I believe in lifelong learning, and I feel sorry for the fellow who thinks that when its time to retire its time to hang it up.

Stanley currently sits on the boards of Empire Bolt & Screw; The Coeur dAlenes Co., which does business as CdA Metals; the Spokane Park Board; Cancer Patient Care; the Inland Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America; and Greater Spokane Incorporateds military affairs committee, among others. In the past he has served on the boards of CXT Inc. and now-defunct Output Technology Corp. (OTC), and chaired both the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Washington Business.

Stanley says much of his motivation for service comes from his personality as a people person, as well as a desire to impart his street experience to others, and in turn to learn from their experiences. He also feels compelled to give back to the Spokane community.

Im a strong believer that business folks and other professionals need to recognize where their so-called success came from, Stanley says. No question that leadership is extremely important, but (their success) came from the community and their employees a lot more than their own leadership.

Wendell Satre, 89, who has chaired the boards of three major Spokane companies and due to declining health only recently resigned from the last of his many posts, echoes the importance of retired execs involvement on corporate and nonprofit boards.

My reason for participating was to help a community that has been very good to me. I love Spokane and like to do whatever I can to help it, Satre says. People who live in and derive their living out of an area should contribute to it as much as they can, and I did for as long as I could.

Satre retired from his post as chairman and CEO of Washington Water Power Co., now called Avista Corp., 23 years ago. In the early 1990s, he was beckoned out of retirement to help save Spokane-based Key Tronic Corp. and Spokane Valley-based OTC. He resigned from the boards of OTC last fall and Key Tronic about a year ago.

Other corporate boards Satre has served on include those of The Coeur dAlenes Co. and Itron Inc. Also, he chaired the board of Empire Health Services and served as president of the Twin Lakes Property Association, during which time he helped revive the struggling North Idaho resort.

Keeping busy

Art Brown, 67, who retired as CEO of Coeur dAlene-based Hecla Mining Co. in 2003 and as chairman of its board in 2006, says hes up and running again after a hip replacement slowed him down for the past two years. Hes a founding member of Coeur dAlene-based Idaho Independent Banks board, and also serves on the boards of Hayden-based Blue Water Technologies Inc. and Illinois-based Amcol International Corp., which provides specialty minerals and related products. His nonprofit work includes serving on the advisory board of the Kroc Center project in Coeur dAlene.

When you retire you say, Im going to do nothing, and then you find yourself suddenly where theres not enough time to get everything done, Brown says.

Brown says that as a retired executive, he brings to the table more than 40 years of business experience in areas such as finance, corporate governance, and human-resource management. Executives, he says, can help one another by sharing their stories, because over time they encounter similar problems in the workplace, regardless of which industries they represent.

Brown says one of the lesser reasons he serves on corporate boards is the compensation involved. Directors are paid for corporate board work, though their work on nonprofits is done as volunteers. The current pay scale for directors at Hecla, for instance, ranges from $54,000 to $77,000 a year, excluding stock awards.

Not that I need it to live, but certainly its some additional compensation, Brown says, adding, theres also quite a bit of work and some travel required, both for corporate functions and my activities with nonprofits.

Brown says he mainly serves on boards to keep his mind active and because they afford him the opportunity to stay engaged in the ever-changing world of business. Brown also enjoys being able to continue communicating with people who hold high-level positions. Most of all, though, he stays involved because he cares about the region he calls home.

I think the contribution that retired executives can make to communities where they live and work and have retired to can be a significant factor in the well-being of that community, Brown asserts.

Another prominent North Idaho businessman, Bob Templin, 84, who built what now is called the Red Lion Templins Hotel on the River, in Post Falls, retired from the hospitality business four years ago and resigned from his last board post two years ago. During his career, he served on the board of Washington Mutual Inc. and as president of the Coeur dAlene Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the board of Cavanaughs Hospitality Corp., the predecessor of Spokane-based Red Lion Hotels Corp.

Templin, who served on Washington Mutuals board for a decade, says executives of the Seattle-based institution brought him onto the board mainly because of his extensive experience in the retail and service sector.

Banks are always concerned about the business climate, Templin says. In the hospitality business you meet an awful lot of people from all walks of life and it gives you a smattering of whats going on in the economy.

Templin says one of the more weighty aspects of serving on boards is ones responsibility to the shareholders of a company or members of an organization. He says he always kept at the forefront of his mind his duty to protect those stakeholders.

Randy Fewel, president and CEO of Spokane-based Inland Northwest Bank, says the banks board has benefited greatly from its seasoned executives, such as Jim Coulson, current CEO and chairman of The Coeur dAlenes Co., and Dr. Bob Shanewise, a retired orthopedic surgeon here who built the Moran Vista retirement community on the South Hill. Shanewise, 87, one of the banks founding members, retired from his board post several years ago.

Fewel says one of the advantages to having older execs on the banks board has been the wisdom they gained from living through numerous business cycles. Some of the banks younger members have never experienced a crisis like the current residential mortgage woes the U.S. is facing, so they benefit from the historical context older board members provide, he says. Additionally, such executives can devote more time to their duties, and they also bring a lifetime of business connections to the companies they serve.

In terms of their experience within the bank, too, theyve seen us grow and seen the struggles and successes weve had, and thats also what makes their input so valuable, Fewel says.

Coulson, 74, who was one of Inland Northwest Banks founders, is retiring from his post there next month because of the banks mandatory retirement age of 75. Hes still involved in the day-to-day operations of the Coeur dAlenes Co., although not to the extent he used to be, and serves on the board of the Metal Service Center Institute, an Illinois-based trade association. He recently retired from the board of a Florida-based co-op called the North American Steel Alliance, and in the past has served on the boards of the Idaho Mining Association, Spokane-based Associated Industries, and the Spokane Area Economic Development Council.

I take what little experience Ive gained from my own activities to the group that I serve, so that they can follow and eliminate the potential for errors, Coulson says. You meet a lot of people and you learn a lot of different techniques for placing your group above all others.

Contact Emily Proffitt at (509) 344-1265 or via e-mail at emilyp@spokanejournal.com.

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