A Pier 1 Export
On the same day that Pier 1 Imports Inc. announced that it would report lower-than- expected earnings for the second fiscal quarter, and that an acquisition attempt had fallen apart, the Fort Worth retailer announced that its CFO, Stephen F. Magnum, had resigned.
Magnum is likely taking the heat for a failed bid for a partner to help Pier 1 compete against more-upscale competitors like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. Speculation among analysts is that talks broke off with Z Gallery, a closely held Los Angeles home- accessories retailer. Magnum was replaced by Charles H. Turner, former SVP of stores.
The Right Chemistry
Eastman Chemical Co. is changing its composition. The company has hired GAF Materials Corp.’s EVP and CFO, James P. Rogers, to replace current SVP and CFO Allan Rothwell. Rothwell will remain on the executive team, as part of a company realignment.
Nicholas R. Rasmussen has made it a policy to keep things running smoothly at American General Corp. Fifty-two-year-old Rasmussen has been with the insurance and annuity firm since 1974, and most recently was appointed EVP and CFO. He succeeds Ellen Masterson, who departed the firm in February.
James F. Zahrn is throwing in the towel at Springs Industries Inc., in Fort Mill, S.C. The CFO is expected to assume a senior financial position at Spartanburg, S.C.-based Milliken & Co. Jeffrey A. Atkins springs into action as the new CFO of this maker of sheets, towels, and home furnishings. He was most recently CEO and CFO of Pete’s Brewing Co., in Palo Alto, Calif.
Gwen C. Wisler is gearing up for her new role as president of Eastpak, the backpack-making subsidiary of Sunbeam Corp. Wisler comes to Eastpak from Sunbeam’s outdoor leisure group, where she was SVP and CFO. She assumes the duties of Rafael Labrador, who left the company to pursue other interests.
As the new CFO of Eckerd Drugstores, Robert B. Cavanaugh will be dispensing financial experience garnered from Eckerd’s parent company, J.C. Penney Co. Cavanaugh served as VP and treasurer of the Plano, Tex.-based retailer for four years. He takes over for Sam Wright, who was named vice chairman of Eckerd.
Things at North Face Inc., in Carbondale, Colo., are heading south. The outdoor-apparel company recently restated results from 1997 and 1998, after its outside auditor posed some accounting questions. Forty-one-year-old CFO Christopher Crawford stepped down “under a mutual agreement.” The company has yet to name a successor.
This fall, Carmike Cinemas Inc. is proud to present new CFO Martin Durant. The Columbus, Ga.-based movie-theater chain fills a vacancy created by John O. “Butch” Barwick III, who exited the stage in March.
The IT industry is extending a big E-welcome to Betty J. Savage. The former CFO of Inso Corp., which is based in Boston, has logged on as the new CFO of Open Market Inc. The previous CFO, Regina Sommer, resigned this past April from the Burlington, Mass.-based Internet commerce software firm, citing personal reasons.
Just Add Capital
Ingredients.com, a New York-based start-up E- commerce company, recently announced the makeup of its senior management team, including EVP, CFO, and founding partner David Farber. He was formerly COO of Townley Cosmetics. The firm also closed a $4.5 million round of private financing from Scripps Ventures and Primus Venture Partners.
Copy this. Massoud Safavi was named CFO of Xerox Engi-neering Systems, a subsidiary of the Rochester, N.Y., document company. He was previously CFO of Microdyne Corp.
Duane W. Bell will advise KPMG LLP on financial matters. He was named CFO of KPMG’s Montvale, N.J.-based consulting practice. Before rejoining the Big Five firm in 1996, he was CFO of Cotelligent Inc., a San Francisco- based information-technology concern.
———————————————– ——————————— A Banker, A Toy-Maker, An Online Crusader
Once upon a time, Dan Lauer, a former career banker with Royal Banks of Missouri, hit upon an idea for a toy called Waterbabies. Inspired by early childhood memories of his sisters playing with water balloons dressed up as dolls, Lauer took the idea to several big toy companies to get financing, but was always rejected. Instead of abandoning the idea, Lauer raised his own capital and marketed the toy, which became the second-largest-selling doll of the 1990s, behind the Cabbage Patch doll.
Once again, he’s found a new niche in the toy industry. Lauer, who gave himself the title of leader and vision guardian, created Haystack Toys Inc., along with co-founder Jeff Loeba. The $2.5 million start-up firm is using the Internet to seek out “ingenious” toys to finance.
“We’re looking for the needle in the haystack,” notes Lauer. He adds, “In the toy industry, there’s no voice for new inventors. We’re a catalyst for generating well-designed, involving toys for kids by trusting ingenuity.”
The venture is a sign of how the Internet is changing the way financing is done. Instead of hungry inventors shopping their ideas around, the Web allows financiers to actively pursue the inventors. To participate in the “Great American Toy Hunt,” as Lauer’s search is called, inventors simply log on to the company Web site www.haystacktoys.com to apply. Ten winners will be chosen to enter into an agreement known as “The Haystack Handshake.” They will receive, among other things, a $5,000 advance, a 5 percent royalty, and a commitment of $50,000 for development costs.
The toyman says there are other pluses to offering financing through the Internet: “You don’t have to play the price game, and you don’t have to worry about a 20 percent royalty fee or licensing fees.”
———————————————– ——————————— Scrap at Nucor
Samuel Siegel no longer remembers what the argument was about, but the hard-driving vice chairman and CFO of Nucor Corp., a Charlotte, S.C.-based steel company, does remember that there was a lot of shouting. He was standing in the office of former CEO Kenneth Iverson, and the two were having it out. “He asked me to leave his office, and I said I wouldn’t until the matter was settled,” recalls Siegel, 68. “Finally, Ken said, ‘Well, if you’re not leaving, I am.’”
The pair, who are largely credited with building a tiny steel operation into one of the largest steel companies in the nation, were known for their boisterous arguments. And though they could usually settle their differences, their last battle would end much the same way as the one Siegel describes, only this time Iverson was forced to leave for good. The 73-year-old Iverson, who stepped down as CEO in 1996, resigned as chairman last October, but only recently was it learned that he was forced out in a boardroom brawl that also resulted in the resignation of his hand- picked successor, John Correnti, in June. Former Nucor president David Aycock stepped in as interim chairman and CEO.
Just last month, Siegel announced he was also retiring at the end of the year, a move he says he wanted to make two years ago but put off until he could influence the recent management changes. “I had lost confidence in the management,” says Siegel. “There was no effective oversight in the corporate office.”
Siegel, who insisted he would join the company in 1961 only if Iverson were made CEO, has little regrets for the row with his long-time colleague. “In the end, it’s what’s best for employees and shareholders that matters.”
———————————————– ——————————— Khaki Finance
Heidi Kunz has fallen into the Gap Inc. as CFO. She had been CFO of ITT Industries Inc., an engineering and manufacturing company, since 1995. Kunz also served as VP and treasurer at General Motors Corp. She fills the vacancy created when Warren Hashagen was promoted to SVP, finance and strategy, for the international division of Gap. The San Francisco-based retailer hopes Hashagen’s move will add “management depth” to its global unit.
Craig P. Omtvedt will be branded the new CFO of consumer-products concern Fortune Brands Inc. at the end of the year. He is currently chief accounting officer, a role that Michael Mathieson is expected to assume. Omtvedt will take over for Dudley Bauerlein Jr., who is retiring in December.
Denver-based Newmont Mining Corp. didn’t have to dig far to come up with a new CFO to replace Wayne W. Murdy. The company struck gold when it promoted VP of project development Bruce D. Hansen to the soon-to-be- vacant CFO slot. Murdy will be promoted to the position of president.
According to reports, Cindy E. Horowitz is the latest scoop. The former VP and CFO of the information division of Primedia Inc. has a new CFO assignment with Hollinger International Inc. The Chicago-based company publishes several newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times and Canada’s National Post.
Christopher Dodds traded the title of EVP of finance for the CFO role at San Francisco- based Charles Schwab Corp. He succeeds Steven Scheid, who was promoted to EVP of mutual funds, consumer products, finance, brokerage operations, and corporate services at the financial services firm.
We have to give Richard Goeltz some credit– the vice chairman and CFO of American Express Co. has decided to retire after serving for three years with the travel, charge-card, and financial-services concern. Goeltz joined Amex from National Westminster Bank Plc, where he served as group CFO.
In the Driver’s Seat
Collins & Aikman Corp. has a new driver for its finance team. The Charlotte, N.C.-based automotive-interior business recently steered Rajesh K. Shah away from UT Automotive, where he had served as VP and CFO. Shah replaces J. Michael Stepp, who was named to the newly created position of EVP of business development and strategic planning.
Sears, Roebuck & Co., in Hoffman Estates, Ill., is adding Joseph E. Laughlin to its corporate line. Laughlin will model the new position of VP of corporate finance and development. He reports to CFO Julian C. Day.
———————————————– ——————————— Career Management: Look Before You Leap
When Internet stocks started to slide in late July and early August, the flood of Internet- related IPOs slowed to a trickle. With the drought, a number of CFOs who leaped from large, established companies to Internet upstarts were forced to put their dreams of striking it rich on hold. Whether or not the sector heats up again remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: Companies that hitch their wagons to the Internet Express carry loads of risk. Plenty of CFOs, caught up in the excitement of the hot sector, overlooked the perils associated with Internet start-ups and left their secure jobs at bricks-and- mortar companies.
“It’s a whole new arena, and one that is very volatile,” says Elizabeth Hamilton, president of Century City Partners LLC, an executive search firm based in Beverly Hills, Calif., that has placed a number of CFOs at E-commerce firms. “It’s not for everyone,” she adds. Hamilton says that a lot of executives overlook the due diligence that needs to be done before signing on with a Web start-up. She advises executives to conduct checks on the CEO and the venture capital source. “You’re investing your career in the company, so look at it as if you were investing all your money in it, too,” she reasons. Hamilton also cautions against moving on to the next start-up when the first one fails. “After you are associated with a few failures, people won’t talk to you,” she warns. “Suddenly, the phone stops ringing.”