Illness Compels Change
David Auer, who had worked closely with Keith Brown for many years, assumed the presidency at Wyo-Ben as Keith’s illness gradually impacted his physical abilities. Keith’s mental functions were not affected, so he retained his involvement in Wyo-Ben decisions. But he was compelled to relinquish day-to-day activities to a man he deeply trusted and had been with the company since 1956.
NOTE: Auer had started at Wyo-Ben as a CPA. David Brown’s recollection of his mentor was that he would be in his office after hours and in front of his calculator tapping out numbers while creating “piles and piles of paper.” He was “a master of spreadsheets and we relied on him.”
The Way Out
A long-established reputation for high ethical standards in business and personal relationships was virtually the only thing left to save this corporation. It was a time when the kept promises from those earlier transactions affirmed the company’s current pledge to rebuild and restructure.
In this case, Wyo-Ben’s banking relationship was absolutely critical.
One of the benefits of the bentonite industry is the diversity of products that can be called upon to regenerate a business in a time of peril. In this case, it’s exactly what happened.
The eleven years under David Auer’s leadership, from 1980 to 1991, were dedicated to rebuilding a more stable foundation for the company. Rocky Brown, who had previously taken time from his own law firm to work on-call for Wyo-Ben, now devoted more hours as their private legal counsel.
Wyo-Ben had succeeded in staying alive. It now had to crawl back into solvency by delivering on its promises.
Connecting With The Past
Although Wyo-Ben was in the midst of crises, everyday-events would often intrude. Elizabeth Hawley Brown, Rockwood Senior’s wife, and the grandmother to a proliferating family, was still alive and driving at age 95. Rocky mentioned a recollection from those years.