Board of Directors

The men and women who make up the Universal Companies Board of Directors have a passion for our mission—delivering innovative spa solutions to maximize our customers’ success. With extensive professional experiences and executive leadership accomplishments, each of our board members brings integrity, credibility, and unique skills to guide the organization. They evaluate Universal Companies’ past and present positions, plan strategically for our future, and above all, they share a vision for our company to be recognized as the standard of excellence serving the spa industry.

  • Marti Morenings

    Founder, Universal Companies

    Universal Companies Founder Marti Morenings learned how to run a company from the ground up, beginning in 1982 with a business she and her father created. In the late 1980′s the company began to distribute skin care and esthetics products, and in 1991 Marti created the first company catalog and one-stop-shop for estheticians and spas around the world.

    Universal Companies Founder Marti Morenings learned how to run a company from the ground up, beginning in 1982 with a business she and her father created. In the late 1980′s the company began to distribute skin care and esthetics products, and in 1991 Marti created the first company catalog and one-stop-shop for estheticians and spas around the world. Since then, she has developed several proprietary brands and created strategic alliances with well-known brands.

    In 2006, Marti served on the Travel and Tourism Panel for the 21st Annual Entrepreneurship Conference at Harvard Business School. Day Spa Association and the International Medical Spa Association also named Marti the 2007 Spa Philanthropist of the Year in 2007 for her success raising funds to benefit breast cancer awareness.

    Also in 2007, Marti saw the need for Universal Companies to begin implementing earth-friendlier practices, so she appointed a sustainability specialist to develop internal strategies, assist customers, and create standards for vendors. This program, now called Sustainable Spa, has expanded into a valuable service for Universal Companies’ 28,000+ customers, 300+ vendors, and it even includes a popular social media group on LinkedIn.

    In 2009, enthusiastic and pleased with the results from Universal Companies’ sustainability initiatives, Marti created another company to provide comprehensive renewable energy solutions for office and community: Eco-Logical Energy Systems. Eco-Logical Energy Systems distributes and installs solar, wind, and geothermal units.

  • Brenda Elliott

    Chief Executive Officer, Universal Companies

    Brenda Elliott joined Universal Companies in 2008. In 2010, she was named Universal Companies Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining Universal Companies as Chief Financial Officer in 2008, Brenda was CFO/COO of Vacation.com

    Brenda Elliott joined Universal Companies in 2008 and in 2010 she was named Universal Companies Chief Operating Officer in 2010. Prior to joining Universal Companies as Chief Financial Officer in 2008, Brenda was CFO/COO of Vacation.com, where she partnered with an entrepreneurial team and venture capitalists to perform merges and acquisitions and headed up an integration team for the combination of 10 travel sales and marketing organizations. Before that, she was Vice President of Finance and Passenger Services at American Classic Voyages, a cruise, hospitality, and travel organization, where she focused on operational effectiveness and financial integration.

    Brenda values the importance of integrated business planning, financial controls, and having well organized, efficient systems and procedures. She acquired her MBA in 2006 from George Mason University.

  • Herb Briggs

    CEO, Ginsey Home Solutions

    Herb Briggs is the CEO of Ginsey Home Solutions, a multi-channel, consumer products company based in New York City and New Jersey. Prior to joining Ginsey, Mr. Briggs was an Operating Partner at Hunt Private Equity in Dallas, in which role he evaluated consumer products businesses for the Hunt Fund investments.

    Herb Briggs is the CEO of Ginsey Home Solutions, a multi-channel, consumer products company based in New York City and New Jersey. Prior to joining Ginsey, Mr. Briggs was an Operating Partner at Hunt Private Equity in Dallas, in which role he evaluated consumer products businesses for the Hunt Fund investments. Formerly, Mr. Briggs served as president of New York-based Dan River Home, a multi-faceted marketer of home décor textile products at branded, luxury and mass-retail levels--as well as to the hospitality industry. Earlier, he served as senior vice president of marketing and sales for Perfect Fit Industries in Charlotte, NC, where he was recruited by a private equity group to reposition the firm and accelerate growth through broader retail reach, branding and offshore sourcing. Prior to Perfect Fit, Mr. Briggs was President of Guilford Home Fashions, a business unit of Guilford Mills. Earlier, he spent fifteen years as EVP of Primex International Corporation, a multinational, product-development, branding, sourcing and manufacturing organization, focused on major American and European retailers. His responsibilities at Primex included the development and management of 14 foreign offices and global retail operations. He began his career as a retail buyer for Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. Mr. Briggs is the recipient of a B.S. degree from Northeastern University. He and his wife reside in Stamford, CT.

  • Peter G. Rice

    Chairman, Elk Run, LLC

    Peter G. Rice is Chairman of Elk Run, LLC, a private investment company, which owns GiftCollector.com, a B2C e-commerce business, and BoxInBoxOut, a third-party fulfillment provider. Prior to founding Elk Run, Peter was the co-founder (1980) of Plow & Hearth, Inc. Plow & Hearth is a national multi-channel retailer of products for home, hearth, yard and garden located in Madison, VA.

    Peter G. Rice is Chairman of Elk Run, LLC, a private investment company, which owns GiftCollector.com, a B2C e-commerce business, and BoxInBoxOut, a third-party fulfillment provider. Prior to founding Elk Run, Peter was the co-founder (1980) of Plow & Hearth, Inc. Plow & Hearth is a national multi-channel retailer of products for home, hearth, yard and garden located in Madison, VA. In 1998, he and his partners sold Plow & Hearth to 1-800-Flowers.com, and in 2005 he retired from Plow & Hearth after 25 years as its President and CEO. Peter then served for 6 months as interim president for Winetasting Network, a fulfillment and distribution center for high end wineries in Napa, CA, owned by 1-800-Flowers.com. Prior to founding Plow & Hearth, Peter was involved in the formation of two other start-up companies, Blue Ridge Mountain Sports (a specialty retailer of outdoor apparel and equipment) and Phoenix Kayaks (a manufacturer of kayaks and related accessories). Peter currently serves as a director of The Universal Companies of Abingdon, VA and of Ginsey Home Products of Swedesboro, NJ. He is also chairman of the Shenandoah National Park Trust. Peter received his BA from Williams College and his MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School. Peter is an avid outdoorsman (hiking, skiing, kayaking, fly-fishing, and bicycling) and enjoys tennis and golf. He and his wife Peggy live in Madison, Virginia.

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