Vernon is a fourth-generation, family-owned, and managed business that focuses on employees, superior work, and community involvement. It was founded in 1902 by F.L. Vernon, great-grandfather to our current CEO, Chris Vernon. Over the years, Vernon has grown from a small, local graphics agency into a globally recognized promotional design, marketing, and manufacturing firm that employs over 500 people nationwide. Based in Central Iowa, Vernon serves over 40,000 global customers.
Vernon is one of less than 30 firms in the United States that is over 100 years old, has been continuously owned/managed by the same family without interruption, and is in the same line of business as during its founding in 1902. Not only is that a truly remarkable heritage, but it brings a century of industry experience and knowledge that is extended to our team members. Rest assured, we are large enough to handle any sized project yet small enough to care about every client. Please take a look behind the scenes and check out what we’re all about below.
The Beginning of Promo Evolution
F. L. Vernon founds the American Farmer Account Book Company in Newton, Iowa, imprinting business ads on record books and selling them to banks, lumberyards, and agriculture-related businesses. The company’s first office was on the second floor of the current Aleya Spa on the Northside of Newton Square.
Advertising Novelty Manufacturing Company
The company purchases a manufacturing facility in Newton, Iowa, renames the business the Advertising Novelty Manufacturing Company, and begins manufacturing metal products, including match holders, broom holders, and flour sifters imprinted with advertisers’ names.
Father and Son
William F. (Bill) Vernon, Sr., son of F. L. Vernon, joins the company, following graduation from the University of Iowa. Bill Sr. was a stand-out athlete and lettered in golf at Iowa.
Rising Above the Great Depression
The manufacturing of cardboard jigsaw puzzles helps the Company through the Great Depression. Vernon becomes the largest jigsaw puzzle manufacturer in the USA during this period printing/die cutting 3 train carloads of cardboard per day in its Newton plant.
Current Vernon Headquarters
The company relocates to the site of the current corporate headquarters, taking over for the defunct Woodrow Washing Machine plant.
First Sales Team
The company hires 30 experienced full-time salespeople from a firm that left the industry in 1940, creating the nucleus for what later becomes a national sales force numbering in the hundreds. Pictured is the first sales advisory group meeting at the Maytag Hotel in Newton, Iowa.
WWII Manufacturing Award
The company receives the Army Ordinance “E” Award for aiding the war effort by manufacturing Browning machine gun 30/50 caliber ammunition boxes and tool chests. After the WWII conflict, product lines broaden to include advertising mirrors, metal signs, license plates, rain gauges, feed scoops, plaques, and ashtrays. By the end of the decade, the Company is the largest manufacturer of glass advertising specialty items in the country.
The Vernon Company is Born
The Vernon Company is created to serve as a national sales organization selling the products manufactured by the Advertising Novelty Company. Shortly after, the company held its first national largescale meeting in 1947 at the Bismark Hotel in Chicago.
A Leadership Transition
F.L. Vernon turns daily operations of the company over to William F. Vernon, Sr. Company begins producing plastic billfolds, vinyl portfolios, and litterbags.
50 Years of Promo
Advertising Novelty Manufacturing Company celebrates its 50th Anniversary! During the anniversary celebration, visitors were able to view the first complete line of plastic Calendars ever produced. The factory is also organized by the United Auto Workers and to date, there has never been a work stoppage.
Merging under The Vernon Company
The Vernon Company and Advertising Novelty Manufacturing Company merge under The Vernon Company name. Pictured here is all the advertising and promotional merchandise Vernon was selling at the time.
The Next Generation
Bill Vernon, Jr. joins the company after serving in US Army. Vernon begins manufacturing a paper calendar line and importing cutlery items from Europe and the Far East.
The Pocket Rocket Pen
The Pocket Rocket Pen was introduced as one of the most unique pens on the market, and the first plastic advertising pen without a clip. Vernon sold millions of these innovative ballpoint pens nationwide during the late 1950s and ’60s.
Vernon introduces a line of pressure-sensitive signs and decals, today’s 12V line. 3M quickly becomes the Company’s largest vinyl supplier.
60 Years and Counting
For the 60th Anniversary, Vernon hosted a national “Sales Sellebration” for its top sellebrities. Two years later, the Metal wrist calendar and patented Roto Ring key tags are added to Vernon’s product line, resulting in millions of dollars in sales.
An Ending and a Beginning
Company founder, F.L. Vernon, passes away. William F. Vernon, Sr. continues to run daily operations and prepare Bill Vernon, Jr. for leadership. During this decade, the company also embarks on a substantial Newton office expansion and remodeling project creating today’s office structure.
Father and Son Tradition
Bill Vernon, Sr. designates Bill Vernon, Jr. as President. The company also introduces proprietary Black Angus Cutlery. By the end of the 1960s, the company holds over 30 US patents on exclusive products designed and manufactured by Vernon.
The Apparel Industry
The company enters the corporate apparel industry by introducing a line of logoed clothing and headwear. In 2021, we ranked #6 on branded apparel distributors with approximately $26 million in revenue!
Passing on the Torch
Bill Vernon, Sr. passes away. Bill Vernon, Jr. is named President, Chairman, and CEO.
Hall of Fame
Bill Vernon, Sr. is among the first inductees to the Specialty Advertising Association International (SAAI) Hall of Fame.
A Solid Partnership
The Vernon company purchases Dun-Lap Manufacturing, a successful graphics supplier located in northern Missouri.
4th Generation and Counting
Chris Vernon joins the company. He is promoted to Executive VP in 1994 and named President and COO in 1997.
A Century of Promo Innovation
The company celebrates its 100th Anniversary and is recognized by the Iowa Department of Economic Development for contributing to the state’s economy for more than 100 years under the Century Businesses of Iowa Program. Vernon also launches AccountPRO, a proprietary online account management system for its 300 Account Executives to collaborate.
Expansion and Beyond
Vernon completes $1.3MM 38,000 square foot, state-of-the-art production, and warehouse facility for graphics, screen-printing, and fulfillment. Company wins Gold MarComm Creative Award for its monthly employee publication, The Vernon Mirror.
Hall of Fame2
Bill Vernon is inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame by Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. The Company launches a “Commit to Be Fit” initiative which includes a new on-site employee fitness center, a Wellness Council, and multiple social responsibility initiatives.
A Global Perspective
Vernon announces a strategic partnership with Brand Inc., a fellow distributor, to expand its footprint beyond the United States and reach a global market. Chris Vernon celebrates 30 continuous service years and multiple distributor awards amongst our industry’s most reputable associations.
Your Success is Our Success
Chris Vernon recognizes eight Account Executives with the President’s Award during the Company’s annual sales meeting. Each of these salespeople reached more than $1 million in sales during the 2018 sales year. All attend the annual International Incentive trip for recognition and appreciation.
Every Ending has a New Beginning
Bill Vernon passes away on Dec. 3, 2020, in Naples, FL. Under national stay-at-home orders due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Vernon Company holds its first-ever virtual national sales meeting April 27 – May 1. All NSM sessions are held live over Zoom with more than 90 salespeople participating nationwide.
Marilyn Mathieson Vernon
Marilyn Vernon passed away in June of 2021. Wife of William F. Vernon and mother of four, Marilyn had a rare zest for life that many were drawn to. Both she and Bill had a love for humanity that is far and few between today. This kindness and transparency is a pillar of Vernon’s core values and shines through their children and employees today.
the Vernon Vibe?
Chris Vernon leads by example every day and he works diligently to follow in the footsteps of his family. The Vernon culture is inspired by the dedication and resiliency of Chris and Vernon’s forefathers. Each employee has always been and is considered an extension of the Vernon family. This connection creates teamwork and comradery amongst the company that is unmatchable and authentic. Our one-of-a-kind Vernon culture is also known as the Vernon Vibe.
— one Family.
At Vernon, we put each other first. We sincerely believe that we are all in this together – and that together is better. Chris and his family have worked to build a selfless Vernon culture that is apparent and extended to clients.