“When you're looking at a growing business, you want the founder as close to the top as you can because you want that entrepreneurial energy,” he said. “But when a company matures, you want the chairman more focused on quality and customer service.”
Moving the founder out of the chairman role in some cases can help the company grow faster and stronger,” Clouse said.
“In many cases, the founder is someone who has a lot of expertise in whatever the business might be,” he said. “One thing that happens with success and growth is that larger companies face more and more challenges. At some point in time, and it's hard for the founder to admit this: sometimes the firm and its challenges may outgrow the managerial expertise of the founder. In that case, putting in someone who has experience in this larger size company and with larger complexities could be better off for the firm and its shareholders.”
Lei said he also is pleased with the direction Chesapeake now is moving and hopes it sets an example for other energy companies.
“Typically, energy company boards are a very closed, informal club environment,” Lei said. “If boards at Chesapeake and others start looking more like consumer companies, there would be a lot fewer interrelationships among the companies. It's going to be interesting to see how that comes out.”