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The Business Behind Business for 125 Years

CSC has a history of offering enterprise-specific solutions

CSC was born during the Gilded Age, a time of rapid economic growth, industrialization, manufacturing, and finance.

However, companies had to jump through hoops to incorporate in most states. In Delaware, each business had to petition the General Assembly for a charter—a laborious process.

Delaware's General Incorporation Law of 1899 simplified the process in the state. That year, attorneys Josiah P. Marvel and Christopher L. Ward founded separate businesses to help companies incorporate and stay compliant. In 1920, they merged to form Corporation Service Company—CSC.

The partners never imagined CSC becoming the leading provider of global business administration and compliance. But that is precisely what happened. CSC does business in every U.S. state and more than 140 global jurisdictions.

CSC owes its success to leaders who anticipated the needs of business and found innovative solutions.

1899–1930s: Blazing a Trail

Most would agree that Josiah P. Marvel and Christopher L. Ward were very different.

Born on a farm in Georgetown, Delaware, Marvel had a head for politics and business. Ward, who grew up in the city of Wilmington, Delaware, was passionate about literature, art, and history. However, the attorneys shared an entrepreneurial spirit.

Marvel helped draft Delaware's General Incorporation law, which mirrored New Jersey legislation that had brought new business to that state. The lawyer then started the Delaware Charter Guarantee & Trust. Ward, meanwhile, formed the Delaware Incorporators' Trust Company.

New Jersey was ahead in the race until it became known as the “Mother of Trusts,” which was an issue because well-known reporters, including Upton Sinclair, had branded trusts unethical. In 1913, Governor Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to discourage the formation of trusts in the state.

Consequently, companies turned to Delaware, which offered a unique advantage: The state boasts the Court of Chancery, a court of equity established in 1792. There is no jury, and judges are known for swift decisions based on extensive case law.

After merging their businesses in 1920, Marvel and Ward kept CSC going while pursuing individual projects. Ward published books, including “Delaware Continentals: 1776–1783.” President of the Delaware Historical Society from 1940 to 1943, he was also engaged in the performing arts.

Marvel, who had eight children, co-founded Tower Hill School and was a Delaware Democratic National Committee member. He was also president of the American Bar Association and the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.

Unfortunately, Marvel suffered a fatal heart attack on October 11, 1930, nearly a year after the stock market crash on October 29, 1929.

1930s–1975: Staying the Course

During the Great Depression, CSC continued making a profit, albeit a more modest one, as Ward wrote in his memoir. Although he died in 1943, the founders' descendants were determined to keep CSC running.

Indeed, they had the necessary skills. Christopher L. Ward Jr. was a Rhodes scholar and attorney, while Josiah Marvel Jr. was a Delaware secretary of state from 1938 to 1941 and ambassador to Denmark from 1946 to 1949. Other family members were bankers. It helped that CSC had a series of capable managers who oversaw daily operations.

In 1964, F. Michael Donohue Jr., a Marvel descendant, and Rodman Ward Jr. joined the board, which embraced the opportunity for growth. CSC made several acquisitions, including the purchase of Capital Trust Company in 1968.

As CSC expanded, it moved from the Equitable Building to the Delaware Trust Building (now known as The Residences of Rodney Square) to the I. M. Pei Building. All are in Wilmington, Delaware.

When manager James M. Winfield retired, CSC hired Daniel R. Butler as CEO to help take the company to the next level.

1975–2000: Aspiring, Evolving, Expanding

It did not take long for the new CEO to make strategic partnerships. For instance, Butler met Stephen B. Tily III, a banker seeking to sell back-office services to support retirement plans for entrepreneurs.

CSC and Tily revived the trust charter for Delaware Charter Guarantee & Trust Company, the name of Josiah Marvel's first company. In 1986, Principal Mutual Life Insurance Company (now the Principal Financial Group) purchased the business, and CSC banked the profit, which it would later use for acquisitions.

In 1989, Bruce Winn joined CSC as vice president of finance and administration. Winn defines the company's purpose: “To be a great, enduring, profitable company by enabling responsible business growth around the globe, while creating an environment in which our people, partners, clients, and communities will be better off tomorrow than they are today.”

By 1991, the company offered registered agent services in all 50 states, and savvy acquisitions added people, services, and territories. The industry buzzed when CSC made plans to purchase Prentice Hall Legal & Financial Services, then the second-largest provider of registered agent services and four times CSC's size.

After the acquisition, CSC had 32 offices in 22 states and more than 1,000 employees—up from 30 in 1989. With Prentice Hall under its belt, CSC also had offices in New York City, including one in the World Trade Center. CSC was getting so large that the company moved into several suburban office buildings.

In 1998, Winn became president.

2000–2010: On the Cutting Edge

The dot-com craze blew up on the cusp of the 21st century. CSC was no stranger to tech and its ability to deliver services. In 1997, for instance, the company launched IncSpot, an online platform for corporate attorneys, corporate secretaries, and paralegals.

Realizing that the internet would become critical for businesses, CSC became an accredited domain name registrar through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The nonprofit organization allocates Internet protocol addresses (domain names).

The leaders understood the similarities between protecting a domain and guarding intellectual property. Corporations needed help navigating the digital world, and CSC ramped up its expertise with a series of acquisitions.

For instance, CSC acquired RecordsCenter, which offered Internet-based document management and collaboration applications for legal and business transactions, due diligence, and corporate governance

In 2002, CSC purchased PowerBrief, a litigation-management application and litigation- and matter-management service.

Then CSC expanded services related to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) by purchasing LexisNexis Document Solutions, a leading provider of UCC due diligence services to banks and asset-based lenders.

Other noteworthy acquisitions included Diligenz (2005), and NameProtect (2007).

After Bruce Winn's departure in 2010, Rodman Ward III became president and CEO. The descendant of founder Christopher Ward had been on the board of CSC for 16 years and was previously president and CEO of the Speakman Company.

2010–Present: Going Global

By 2013, CSC had offices in Canada and Europe. The purchase of Melbourne IT in Australia, a gateway to the Pacific, made CSC a company with a worldwide imprint. Acquisitions in Singapore and Hong Kong followed in 2015.

CSC jumped from 900 employees in 2010 to more than 2,200 in 2016. In 2017, the company moved into a state-of-the-art, 148,437-square-foot building in Delaware. CSC Station, a coworking space on the Wilmington riverfront near the train station, followed in 2021.

Meanwhile, CSC continued to expand its capabilities and reach with acquisitions in Europe, APAC, and the U.S. from 2020 to 2022. Consider the acquisition of Intertrust Group, which supplied bespoke corporate, fund, capital market, and private client solutions to customers in more than 120 jurisdictions.

Today, CSC can support a business through every stage of its life cycle, regardless of location.

CSC's offerings include knowledge-based business, legal, tax, and digital brand solutions for 90% of the Fortune 500®, more than 90% of the Best Global Brands®, and more than 70% of the PEI 300.

CSC is still a private company that prides itself on fully integrating all these services into a global operating model, thereby ensuring a seamless experience for our clients and partners. CSC has office locations and capabilities in more than 140 jurisdictions across Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East. As we have in the past, we vow to exceed expectations.