Gentex CEO Fred Bauer leaves abruptly

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After almost 32 years in the position
  • Accolades, praise, thanks and words of regret for Bauer
  • Steve Downing taking over

(exechange) — Zeeland, Michigan, January 5, 2018 — Fred Bauer, chief executive of Gentex, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Gentex Corporation in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Friday, January 5, 2018, Fred T. Bauer has left his post as Chief Executive Officer at the maker of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors after almost 32 years in the position, effective December 31, 2017.

It is the end of an era.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past twelve months was 8.8 years, according to data compiled by exechange. Only 2 percent of the CEOs who departed over the past twelve months left the position after more than 30 years.

Bauer’s duties were taken over by Steve Downing, most recently Chief Operating Officer at Gentex Corporation.

It is a generational change as well. Steve Downing is about 35 years younger than Fred Bauer.

No reason given

In the announcement, Gentex did not explicitly explain the obviously compelling reason for Bauer’s sudden move, opening the door for speculation.

Precise information about Bauer’s future plans was not immediately available.


Gentex said: “Gentex Corporation … today announced the retirement of Fred Bauer as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors and his resignation from the Board.”

Gentex further said: “Gentex Corporation announced that effective as of December 31, 2017, Mr. Fred Bauer retired as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company.”

“Not as a result of any disagreement”

“Mr. Bauer also resigned as a member of the Board of Directors that same date as a part of his retirement and not as a result of any disagreement with the Company,” Gentex said.

It is a phrase that may be intended to prevent false rumors. It may also fuel further speculation and raise more questions than it answers. Such a phrase should be read very carefully. The exact wording may be insightful.

As part of Bauer’s retirement, the Board of Directors has unanimously appointed James Wallace, the current Lead Independent Director, as the Company’s Chairman of the Board.

Share price rise since January 2009

The change follows a rise in the share price of Gentex Corporation since January 2009.

In the position of CEO since 1986

Fred T. Bauer is the Founder of Gentex Corporation and has been its Chief Executive Officer since May 1986.

Bauer is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, and he has held that position for more than five years.

Bauer has overseen the Company’s increase in market capitalization from approximately $17 million at its initial public offering in 1981 to approximately $6.2 billion as of March 1, 2017.

In addition, he is also the named inventor on a number of the Company’s patents.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Fred Bauer’s sudden move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 2.2018 ($).