Geon Co. announced a staff reduction at its Avon Lake, Ohio, headquarters the day after the PVC giant promoted Thomas Waltermire to the newly created post of executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Waltermire will focus on the company's day-to-day operations, allowing William Patient, Geon's chairman, president and chief executive officer, to devote more time to long-term strategic issues, according to company officials.
The staff reductions will be phased in during the next 18 months and will affect more than 15 percent of the nearly 450 employees at Geon headquarters—at least 68 workers. They will save Geon about $11 million annually beginning in 1999, the company said in a news release. Voluntary early retirement will account for most of the cuts.
``We need to do some things to maintain competitiveness in the industry,'' Dennis Cocco, Geon's director of corporate and investor affairs, said in a telephone interview. ``There are still some things we can do better to help streamline the company.''
The reduction comes less than two weeks after Geon announced profit of $2.3 million for the first quarter of 1997 — a sharp turnaround from the $5.6 million loss reported in the same period in 1996.
``If you look at everything we've said to Wall Street, our employees and everybody else, we're always looking to make the company better, stronger and more profitable to our shareholders,'' Cocco said.
``Our first-quarter showing was a reflection of the marketplace and the things we've been doing. They're not the kind of earnings we'd like, but they're reflective of the margins in the PVC industry right now,'' he said.
Waltermire was traveling and could not be reached for comment last week. In a prepared statement, Patient said Waltermire's role ``will be both an important and a challenging one ... as worldwide vinyl demand continues to grow.''
He previously served as the company's senior vice president and chief financial officer, a title he held since 1993, when Geon was spun off from parent BFGoodrich Co. He joined Bath, Ohio-based BFG in 1974 as a financial analyst.
He earned a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Ohio State University in Columbus and a master's of business administration degree from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
Replacing Waltermire is David Wilson, who joined BFG in 1978, and last served as Geon's director of business management for resins.
Geon is one of the largest PVC suppliers in North America and claims to be the world's largest provider of PVC compounds. It operates 13 manufacturing plants in the United States, Canada and Australia, and also has joint ventures in Europe and Southeast Asia.
Geon posted profit of $1.14 billion in 1996. The company's PVC resin capacity is estimated at 2.6 billion pounds annually.