Dominican University's Brennan School of Business honored William J. (Bill) Darley, chairman of W.S. Darley & Company, with its James W. Haugh Award for Entrepreneurship and Ethics at a breakfast ceremony on Wednesday, October 24. Due to health concerns, Darley was unable to attend the ceremony, and his son, Peter, accepted the award on his behalf.
Having joined W.S. Darley & Company in 1950, Bill Darley, a longtime resident of River Forest, has been one of the key forces in growing the business his father founded in 1908 into a premier worldwide provider of firefighting equipment and special needs for governments.
"As president, Bill took the company in new directions. He pioneered the approaches of selling the water pumps separate from the fire trucks they built and of offering set prices for stock fire trucks. Under Bill, W.S Darley & Company branched out further into overseas markets, which has led to tremendous success," said Arvid Johnson, dean of the Brennan School of Business. "Bill turned over the responsibilities of CEO to his son Paul in 2010 but remains Chairman of the company—which is as successful as ever, due in part to the entrepreneurial mindset Bill demonstrated and cultivated over the years."
Throughout his tenure at the company, Bill's engineering skills have been instrumental in developing new and innovative products, and his leadership of the company has established numerous business practices that became standards for the industry. His accomplishments have been pivotal in morphing what began as a small catalog-style provider of municipal equipment into a company recently recognized by Crain's Chicago Business as one of the 50 fastest-growing companies in metropolitan Chicago, and by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The family holds strong connections to Dominican University, from which several members of the Darley graduated and where Bill formerly served as a member of the Board of Trustees.
The James A. Haugh Award is given annually in honor of former university board chairman James W. Haugh. The award recognizes an entrepreneur or other principal in a family-owned business whose achievements reflect the business acumen, dedication to community and personal integrity that have marked Haugh's distinguished career and tenure on Dominican's board. Haugh is a founder of American Capital LLC, a financial consulting firm. He has also held management positions with KPMG, the law practice of Kirkland and Ellis, and First Interstate Bancsystem, Inc. His civic engagements include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Great Books Foundation, where he served as past chairman.