For the first time, there is no Hillenbrand among directors on the Hill-Rom board.
At the company’s shareholders meeting March 7 in Batesville, board Chairman Rolf Classon explained Gus Hillenbrand’s absence. He noted that charter documents spell out age guidelines. “When director nominees reach the age of 72 during the term to be voted on … those directors are expected to not stand for re-election ... (Gus Hillenbrand) actually reached that age last year. He served one year longer than our age guidelines. He and his wife Nancy couldn’t be here today” to be honored.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Classon expressed gratitude to the longtime board member and Batesville resident “for absolutely outstanding service to the company.” Hillenbrand joined Hillenbrand Industries in 1959 “and dedicated 55 years to this company. I have served with Gus on the board of Hillenbrand and Hill-Rom for 12 years. He has been a tremendous source of knowledge, passion and inspiration.”
After voicing his effusive thanks to the retired director, there was prolonged applause by the senior management team and a few shareholders in attendance.
Three customary proposals ratified by shareholders were announced (please see box). With no questions from shareholders and no major speeches by company executives, the meeting adjourned in less than 10 minutes. Afterwards, President and CEO John Greisch reported he has been traveling nonstop to Hill-Rom facilities abroad.
In the annual report (www.hill-rom.com, click on Annual Report at the bottom of the page), Greisch admitted, “2013 was another difficult year for all medical device companies – particularly those in the capital sector – and Hill-Rom was no exception. The ‘new normal’ appears to be a global economy in flux and any stability we do see appears tentative. In our more mature markets, hospitals everywhere are looking for ways to cut costs; more than ever before, hospitals are being thoughtful about the level of service they want to provide, deciding what is essential and what isn’t, looking for what truly will make a difference in outcomes, and discarding what will be merely incremental.”