With the kind of network, reach, and sophistication that can only be developed over time, Solon’s teams bring extensive and varied experience to each situation. Founded and led by Deborah Hicks Midanek Bailey, a pioneer in the corporate restructuring industry, our teams are comprised of outstanding people who parachute into high-pressure situations and make a difference fast, providing unbiased analysis, clear thinking and steady leadership.
Well known for her turnaround expertise, Deborah has consistently positioned businesses for accelerated growth. She has diagnosed and remedied problems for over 60 corporations plus furthered growth of nearly 30 ventures, including her own. She was once described by the late Fletcher Byrom as a “pure thinker” – quickly gaining a deep understanding of complex problems, while exhibiting sensitivity to all parties involved and an extraordinary ability to assimilate and craft lasting solutions.
Deborah has been directly involved in much of the extraordinary innovation that has taken place on Wall Street over the last few decades, and in handling the consequences of its excess. With solid knowledge of capital markets from all points of view and a long record of success in building and rebuilding companies from the bottom up, Deborah focuses relentlessly on defining transitions as positive processes. Not interested in merely preserving companies, organizations and jobs, instead she works to drive them to levels previously unimagined. She has led turnaround teams for diverse companies including Parmalat USA, Mississippi Chemical, and FINOVA. Earlier, she served as CEO of United Companies Financial Corporation and Standard Brands Paint.
Deborah has served as director, lead director or chairman as well as committee chair (audit, compensation, governance, special independent) for public and private companies including HCC Insurance Holdings, Signature Group Holdings, MB Holdings, Phosphates Holdings, Inc., Rodman & Renshaw Group, Inc., and Tricapital, Ltd., among others. A trustee of the Committee for Economic Development since 1992, she is also on the advisory board of family owned Biltmore Companies. Deborah chaired the board of Standard Brands Paint and American Homestar, and The Solon Funds, registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940. She also served as de facto lead director for Drexel Burnham, deemed an inadvertent investment company, during its bankruptcy, where she organized the shareholders to achieve recognition in the bankruptcy and restructured the incumbent board to favor independent directors. She joined Drexel Burnham to start its derivatives function, which grew to $50 billion in contracts; she then formed and led the firm’s structured products group. She is a 2011 NACD Board Leadership Fellow, the first year such designations were available.
Deborah earned her MBA from the Wharton School and an AB from Bryn Mawr College. A frequent writer and speaker on governance, strategy, and leadership, she is deeply involved in promoting entrepreneurship.
Coley Bailey has successfully applied his business acumen and risk mitigation philosophy to corporate and public boards since he was 23. An agricultural pioneer and innovator equally comfortable in the boardrooms of global companies and farmer-owned mills, he has a lengthy record of public service and philanthropy. Areas of interest and expertise include agri-business, energy, aviation, transportation and manufacturing. Coley is seeking another corporate board position.
At 26 Coley became the youngest member of the board of directors of Mississippi Chemical Corporation, an agricultural cooperative providing fertilizer for much of the southern United States. Five years later he was elected to its executive committee and five years after that Coley was elected chairman, serving until he managed the company’s sale in 2004. His calm, confident leadership helped guide the company through significant expansion and its conversion to a New York Stock Exchange traded entity. The public offering provided liquidity for some 14,000 shareholders plus significantly increased value. He continues to serve on the board of a successor company, Terra Nitrogen.
Coley is a director of StaplCotn, among the largest marketers of cotton in the world, and is the only non-management member of the loan committee of wholly owned Stapldiscount Corporation, which extends credit throughout the Stapl footprint. Other public and large cooperative board experience includes Schutt, Newsprint South, Inc., and Mississippi Phosphates, Inc. As a director he has served as Chairman of Audit Committees and of Corporate Governance, Budget, and Philanthropy Committees. He has chaired multiple Executive Committees and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of publicly traded companies. Coley’s non-judgmental style has helped directors work together during good and bad times. He routinely helps solve perplexing problems bringing fresh insights and keen focus on value.
Coley has served his community in a number of ways, as chairman of the area’s economic development effort and as leader of various philanthropic and volunteer activities. His understanding and compassion for people coupled with knowledge of what industry wants have contributed to significant strides in economic development. While running a complex business in addition to his board service, Coley devotes time, money and energy to conservation and related causes. For example he was a Founding Director of the Agribusiness institute at Mississippi State University, President of Mississippi Association of Conservation Districts, and key member of the Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
The foundation of Coley’s business life is production agriculture. He transformed a small family farm into a prosperous, environmentally friendly agri-business. Based in Mississippi, Bailey & Sons has won widespread recognition from industry peers, conservation organizations, and regulatory bodies for effective stewardship of the land and efficient use of resources. Its record of consistent profitability has been achieved through highly focused risk management, continuing technological innovation, and effective asset deployment. The dynamics of agriculture dictate that Coley makes numerous major decisions daily based on minimal information—giving him a key advantage in today’s boardrooms and current economic turbulence.
Coley attended Millsaps College and received a BS from Mississippi State University, with continued learning at Harvard, Purdue and various other educational initiatives. Coley is an experienced pilot who currently flies a TBM 850. He and his wife Deborah, a corporate director and turnaround expert, have 4 children. Based in Mississippi, they also have a home in New Mexico