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Cheerleading CEO to become chief at Herff Jones

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The founder of a cheerleading-supply company will become the next CEO of Indianapolis-based Herff Jones Inc., one of the city's largest private companies.

Jeff Webb, founder and CEO of Varsity Brands, will take over as president and chief operating officer on July 1, with current CEO Joe Slaughter assisting with his successor's transition until he retires in June 2014, Herff announced Tuesday.

Slaughter has been with Herff Jones for about 40 years. A Herff Jones representative was not immediately available for comment on the transition.

Traditionally a maker of yearbooks and class rings, Herff acquired Memphis-based Varsity Brands on Aug. 1, 2011. The acquisition, the largest in Herff's 90-year history, was expected to grow Herff Jones' revenue by $250 million, or 51 percent.

Herff is the 15th-largest private company in Indianapolis by revenue, according to IBJ research.The company had $436.8 million in revenue in 2011.

Varsity is the top supplier of cheerleader uniforms, as well as a force behind cheerleading's evolution into a stand-alone sport. After joining Herff Jones' board of directors, Webb continued to operate Varsity as a separate division with about 1,000 employees. Webb is a native of Dallas and graduated from the University of Oklahoma.

The Varsity acquisition gave Herff a total of about 4,000 employees, including 500 at the company's headquarters and fine-papers plant on West 62nd Street, as of 2011. Current employment information was not available Tuesday.

Herff Jones has been employee-owned since 1995.

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