Four years after retiring, William Patient is returning to the plastics industry as nonexecutive chairman of PolyOne Corp.
Patient retired from his posts as chairman and chief executive officer of Avon Lake, Ohio-based Geon Co. in 1999. Geon merged with M.A. Hanna Co. of Cleveland to form PolyOne in 2000. Patient's comeback occurs as PolyOne is closing in on a third straight year of financial losses, with a slow economy magnifying challenges encountered in merging the Geon and Hanna operations.
``PolyOne has the assets and the people to be the best in the business,'' Patient said in a Nov. 6 news release. ``My top priority is to see that we deliver on that potential for the benefit of our customers, our stockholders and ourselves.''
Patient added that he ``will be on board until we are all satisfied that this company is winning and on a stable path for long-term success.''
Thomas Waltermire, who succeeded Patient in the top spot at Geon, will continue as PolyOne's president and chief executive officer, with responsibility for operational decisions. Patient will chair bi-monthly meetings of PolyOne's board of directors, a function formerly done by Waltermire.
``I realize PolyOne's recent performance is deeply disappointing, and I appreciate the board's endorsement of our strategic priorities and the great resource it is providing in Bill Patient,'' Waltermire said in the release.
Patient recently relocated from the Cleveland area to Tuscon, Ariz. He will be compensated as a PolyOne board member but will not receive a salary from the company, PolyOne spokesman Dennis Cocco said.
``[Patient] is not here to run the company,'' Cocco said. ``He's not an executive of the company. He's here to help the company and to help [Waltermire] for a short period of time.''
Patient's return to the company, which was initiated by PolyOne's board, will be made easier by his relationship with Waltermire, Cocco said.
``The fact that Tom succeeded Bill at Geon and that Bill was Tom's mentor for a number of years will make this easier,'' Cocco said.
A stock analyst who covers PolyOne said Patient's return will have a positive effect on the firm. But the analyst added that taking such a step ``is acknowledging that what [PolyOne] has done so far hasn't worked.''
PolyOne - which ranks as North America's largest compounder, with a market share of 10 percent - recently announced plans to sell off three underperforming business units. Those units - elastomers and performance additives, engineered films and specialty resins - generated one-fourth of the firm's sales and employed one-third of its workforce last year.
PolyOne also recently announced the closing of elastomers and performance additives plants in DeForest, Wis., and Wynne Ark., which employ a total of 230. The company also confirmed that it lost almost $69 million in the first nine months of 2003 as sales were flat at $1.9 billion.
Patient, 69, joined BFGoodrich Co. of Brecksville, Ohio, in 1989, after a 27-year career with Borg-Warner Chemical Corp. Patient first served as president of Goodrich's vinyls division and became CEO of Geon when the business was spun off from Goodrich in 1993.