Meeusen retiring as Badger Meter CEO at end of year

Ken Bockhost named as successor

Badger Meter Inc. headquarters
Badger Meter Inc.'s headquarters in Brown Deer.

Rich Meeusen will retire from his position as chief executive officer at Brown Deer-based Badger Meter Inc. at the end of the year, the company announced Monday.

Badger Meter Inc. headquarters
Badger Meter Inc.’s headquarters in Brown Deer.

Ken Bockhorst will take over as the company’s top executive. He joined the company in October 2017 and was promoted to president earlier this year.

“Ken has embraced the Badger Meter culture, advanced new growth paths and instituted a continuous improvement philosophy throughout the organization during his tenure as president and chief operating officer,” Meeusen said. “He brings excellent strategic, operational and talent development skills to the role and is passionate about delivering outstanding returns to our stakeholders. Under his leadership, I am convinced Badger will continue to thrive.”

Meeusen, who joined Badger Meter in 1995, has been CEO since 2004. He will stay on as chairman of the company’s board through 2019.

“It has been a privilege and a highlight of my professional career to work alongside the dedicated and talented team at Badger Meter,” he said.

Known for his colorful and outspoken commentary on a number of issues, Meeusen currently serves on a number boards outside of Badger Meter, including Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin Inc., the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the Great Lakes Protection Fund and the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.

He also was instrumental in the establishment of The Water Council and still serves as a co-chair of the organization.

Meeusen has reached a post-retirement agreement with the company that calls for his unvested and restricted stock options to vest on Sept. 30. The company will also pay out any accrued long-term incentive compensation, estimated at $2 million to $2.5 million. Meeusen will also be able to continue using a leased company car through November 2019 when the lease expires.

The deal also calls for Meeusen to provide consulting services to the company’s CEO and board through March 2, 2023 while preventing him from working at any competing companies.

Todd Teske, the lead director of Badger Meter and chairman of Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp., said Meeusen had made “innumerable contributions” to Badger Meter’s success.

“He spearheaded the strategic direction of the company and successfully created its innovative and integrity-led culture. His unyielding focus on delivering shareholder value is remarkable, with more than a 20% average annual shareholder return under his leadership,” Teske said.

Teske added that the board viewed the transition as thoughtful, well-planned and soundly executed.

“Ken is a proven leader with broad industry experience, global perspective and demonstrated success in driving strategy and operational excellence,” Teske said.

Bockhorst joined Badger Meter from Menomonee Falls-based Actuant Corp. and previously worked at IDEX Corp. and Eaton Corp. He will be the sixth chief executive in the company’s history.

“I recognize the awesome responsibility of preserving the legacy of trusted solutions, broad offerings and innovation earned since Badger Meter’s founding in 1905,” Bockhorst said. “That solid foundation, coupled with prudent strategies and a strong financial position, provide us the opportunity to continue to grow both organically, and when strategically appropriate, through acquisition.”

In an interview with BizTimes, Bockhorst said Meeusen and the board ran a good transition process and everything followed the timeline laid out when he joined the company.

“One of the great things about the company is it is performing really well,” he said, adding that Badger Meter has already transitioned from “an old industrial company” to one that is focused on offering technology and solutions.

Bockhorst, however, likely won’t match Meeusen’s unique style as CEO.

“I’m not replacing Rich … Rich is his own guy,” Bockhorst said. “I have a sense of humor, but I don’t tell jokes.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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