Ballard Betz, a former consultant with the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center and commercial lender with Synovus Bank in Rome, has been named president of the Lewis Chemical Co. Zack Raiford, a former production executive with U.S. Biofuels in Rome has been named vice president.
Earlier this week, Gregg and Diane Lewis announced their plans to retire and sell the company to its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Program.
In a press release from the company, Betz said, “Gregg and Diane Lewis are two of the smartest and most generous people that I know. They have built a very impressive business by treating others how they would like to be treated ... true servant leaders.”
Betz joined Lewis Chemical in April of this year as Chief Financial Officer. When Diane Lewis explained details of the ESOP deal earlier this week, she said that the company was overdue for someone with a strong business background to take over fiscal responsibilities for the company.
Lewis Chemical Co. is a 13-year-old privately held specialty chemicals manufacturer founded by Gregg and Diane Lewis. The company has grown to 60+ employees and serves as a manufacturing and technology partner for some of the leading chemical manufacturers and distributors in the country.
Diane Lewis said the process of putting together the Employee Stock Ownership Plan has been in the works essentially since Betz came on board earlier this year.
She credits the employees of the company for its growth and success and said she was confident the company would continue to flourish as an employee-owned enterprise.
“I’m humbled to be a small part of the pre-ESOP legacy and hopefully a big contributor to the post-ESOP success story,” Betz said. “The fact that they wish to pass on their business to the people who helped them build it says everything about them and the company.”
Raiford joined the Lewis Chemical team in November of 2018 as Director of Process Safety. He joined US Biofuels (now World Energy) in 2006 and became plant manager in 2011. He was transferred to a plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 2017 before returning to Rome and Lewis Chemical the following year.