Schaumburg, Ill.-based Pliant Corp. terminated Chief Executive Officer Jack Knott and said board member Edward Lapekas has taken over on an interim basis while the company conducts a national search for a successor.
Knott, 49, joined the packaging products company in 1997 as chief operating officer and had held the CEO post since June 2002. Lapekas said Knott was asked to step down, effective Aug. 24, due to poor company performance, but declined to elaborate further.
Pliant has seen better days. Earlier this month, the company reported a second-quarter loss of $18.9 million - nearly seven times larger than its loss of $2.7 million the previous year.
A maker of products such as plastic juice boxes, cereal box liners and dry-cleaning bags, Pliant has played the role of consolidator in the highly fragmented plastic packaging industry.
But a slack economy and tight financial markets have stunted its growth, while a mountain of debt and cutthroat plastics pricing have squeezed its bottom line.
Lapekas, 60, said his role is to ``steady the ship'' while the board seeks out a permanent leader. He has been on Pliant's board for two years, and most recently served as chairman and CEO of NexPak Corp., a Canton, Ohio-based media packaging company.
He said the search will focus on external candidates.
Pliant is majority owned by JPMorgan Partners, which bought its stake - then Huntsman Packaging Corp. - about three years ago. The New York-based venture capital arm of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. renamed the company and moved it from Salt Lake City to Schaumburg in 2001.