Bio - Mark Robert Richards

Mark-Richards-Photo

Born into a Midwestern family with loving parents who lived through the Great Depression, New Deal and the Marshall Plan, Mark was taught the importance of self-determination, integrity and hard work from an early age. By age 10, Mark was running a lawn mowing service, and recycling glass, newsprint and aluminum for cash before it was fashionable. He still found time for scouting, and competitive sports including swimming and hockey.

By age 13, he and his older brother were selling candy at school and running a 300+ home paper route. They were shrewd about choosing their paper route having turned down the first opportunity of a residential neighborhood route. Instead, they had heard about a new apartment complex opening up. They recognized higher density housing meant shorter walking distances, indoor work to escape Michigan’s cold weather season, less time lugging heavy bags, and faster growth as the apartments filled.

Three years later when all new phases of the apartment complex had been completed and after winning all of the local newspaper merchandising new customer contests (and reselling the awarded merchandise at school), the boys turned over the paper business, which the publisher promptly split into 3 routes. Mark used the proceeds to fund a new car purchase at age 16 and later support for his undergraduate education.

Mark is self-made. He and his two siblings were taught the importance of education, and were first in their family to graduate from college. Mark paid 100% of his undergraduate expenses using his savings and by working summers in the automobile factories found in his home town of Lansing, MI. The hot, arduous 12-hour shifts paid well, but left little free time. Mark witnessed the tumultuous union- management relationship of the 1980s, and how it undermined productivity and engagement. Mark would later draw on these experiences to shape his management style as a junior manufacturing engineer.

Mark is thankful for his good fortune. He has a wonderful family with 3 beautiful, talented and independent children with the good fortune of being raised in idyllic Appleton, WI. A graduate degree from a top-ranked University, and a very successful business career operating large, complex, global industrial manufacturing businesses for over 30 years. Mark Richards rose to Chairman and CEO of Appvion, Inc. in Appleton, WI.

Mark believes every day brings a new opportunity. He is driven to make a difference and is full of life and positive energy. Mark returned to swimming in his 50s while still Chairman and CEO of Appvion, Inc. and is now competing at the National-level with other US Masters swimmers. Mark climbed his first 14-er in 2020 (with many more to come) and is learning to surf. During the pandemic he bought a “cruiser” bicycle for exercise, but soon found himself keeping pace in road racing pelotons where other riders told him to get a “real” bike, which he did. He now rides three times a week with a crew of mostly younger cyclists.

Mark is very passionate about board governance having restructured the board at Appvion, Inc. in Appleton, WI as its Board Chairman and CEO then went on to work with numerous investors and families who wished to implement similar best practice board governance. Mark has over 15 years of governance experience. Professional governance credentials are becoming more common. Mark was an early adopter and earned the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Board Leadership Fellow designation shortly after they started the program in 2015. Mark continues to speak, write and consult on board governance matters and is a member of the Private Directors Association (PDA) leadership team. Mark represents the PDA in South Florida as its Chapter President.