AS AN ADVISOR,
Robert Vowler delivers cross-functional business expertise culled from more than two decades of increasingly executive positions at Hershey Trust Company, culminating in his role as CEO for the final twelve years.
AS THE FORMER CEO OF HERSHEY TRUST COMPANY,
Robert Vowler grew the Trust asset base from $2.6 billion to $8+ billion, led a $1.5 billion diversification of assets, and increased the Private Wealth Division revenues fivefold.
PRIOR TO BEING NAMED CEO,
Robert Vowler was the CFO of The Hershey Trust for 10 years and president of The M.S. Hershey Foundation for 20 years. He also served as Audit Committee chair and Executive Compensation Committee chair of The Hershey Entertainment Company.
The son of a Methodist minister and a homemaker-turned-librarian, Robert Vowler grew up in Central Pennsylvania alongside three siblings. The family frequently moved to new towns, which was the norm for Methodist ministers. In his interviews for the Hershey Community Archives Oral History Program, Vowler recalls his father often taking the reins and rebuilding towns’ parsonages himself if he felt that they were not up to par. This kind of can-do mindset, coupled with a devotion to his community, would later be mirrored by Vowler himself via his work at Hershey. To this day much of Vowler’s approach to business and community work is rooted in tenets of his personal life.
Robert Vowler’s tenure at Hershey Trust Company is largely defined by the work that he did for the Hershey community. While he excelled in the operational matters that were crucial for the Trust’s continued success, he also used his position to improve the effects that the Hershey brand could (and should) have on the surrounding community. In each of Vowler’s community-based endeavors, he ensured high levels of cooperation between the Trust and elected officials, so that they could achieve legislation and earn public funding whenever needed. In this way, Vowler was a key figure in maintaining the brand’s glory as a crowning achievement of Milton S. Hershey and a guarantor of economic growth, education, and entertainment.
Robert Vowler served on the Board of the Milton Hershey School. He also served as President of the non-profit M.S. Hershey Foundation for twenty years. Under his guidance, the Foundation transformed from a simple trust fund into an organization with assets that actively needed to be managed. Vowler oversaw the development of these assets as well as the operations that kept them running. For example, he led the development of the Hershey Museum, for which he raised capital through the M.S. Hershey Foundation and approved the overall design and storytelling.
Some of Vowler’s other notable accomplishments include revitalizing downtown Hershey and overseeing the development of a research park dedicated to advancing high technology and supporting the scientific community of South Central Pennsylvania. Additionally, Vowler led the extensive restoration of the Hershey Theatre, the area’s premier performing arts center. To this day, he considers this one of the highlights of his career.
As the personification of the Trust and the “voice” of Milton S. Hershey’s legacy, Vowler worked steadily to develop new business endeavors and make the Hershey brand instantly visible to visitors. However, he also knew that some of Hershey’s appeal comes from the rural nature of the community — so he struck a balance between land and business by investing in surrounding real estate and preserving Hershey’s “greenbelt.”
As of January 1st, 2018, Robert Vowler’s 5-year contract as an advisor for a hedge fund has officially expired. He still continues to advise another, separate hedge fund to great success.