New management at Fleck Co. Inc. has hired back Alex Pawloff as manufacturing manager and Jim Lee as account manager. Their returns symbolize a transition at the Auburn, Wash., injection molding firm.
Pawloff headed Fleck's manufacturing engineering group until leaving in early 1997 to join a Nypro Inc. unit in Corvallis, Ore. Lee had been Fleck sales manager until leaving in May to join Vaupell Industrial Plastics Inc. in Seattle.
Fleck has changed from tight family control to an operation encouraging ``employee empowerment,'' Scott Eshelman, the new president and chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview.
Strategic investment firm Alistar Capital Group of Bellevue, Wash., acquired a majority of Fleck in mid-November.
On Dec. 22, Alistar terminated John E. Fleck as president and chief executive officer and Duane P. Fleck as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Their father, Peter J. Fleck, founded the company in 1967 and retired in 1985.
Alistar also sued the Flecks in U.S. District Court in Seattle, charging that the sellers made ``representations that we felt were inaccurate,'' Eshelman said. The suit makes other allegations about employment issues, he said. The Fleck family did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
The Fleck family retains a minority interest and is negotiating with Alistar to resolve legal and ownership matters.
``We are on the right track,'' Eshelman said of changes the new owners are making. ``Sales-prospect activity is growing, [and we are] encouraged by the opportunities we are seeing. Morale is much better than it was. [It is] a matter of getting momentum to be positive.''
Along those lines, the new management enlarged a computer room and created a lunchroom and informal conversational area. Previously, an executive washroom with sauna, shower and sinks occupied the space. Also, the company added a bottled- water service and began providing coffee in the production area.
Fleck's 1997 sales dropped about 10 percent from the previous year, Eshelman said, but the current-year budget calls for a jump of 20 percent.
The company employs 140, operates 30 injection molding machines with clamping forces of 28-250 tons and focuses on production of hand-held information gathering devices for the computer and communication-technology industries.
The output includes ``overmolding two different materials to get a tactile surface on the outside providing additional protection,'' Eshelman said.
Also, Fleck molds medical products and is ``looking at some projects that may need larger machines [of] maybe 500 tons,'' he said.
Eshelman and other Fleck Co. members are providing input to Alistar about niches for possible acquisitions. Alistar has ``been talking with one group about a transaction'' and has others in the early stages.
The company's name will stay the same, Eshelman said.