The Wall Street Journal
has a big Page 1 feature today about Joseph Galli, former CEO of Newell Rubbermaid Inc. On the Web, the story carries the headline "A CEO Gets Rare Second Act." In print, it says "As Wave of Ex-CEOs Swells, One Mounts a Rare Comeback."
Angie DeRosa, our correspondent in Oklahoma City who covered Galli back when he was at Newell Rubbermaid, has a suggestion for a better headline: "CEOs have feelings, too."
The story gives Galli's life story, from high school kid growing up in Pittsburgh to often-controversial CEO at Amazon.com Inc., VerticalNet Inc. and Newell Rubbermaid. Today he's CEO of Techtronic Industries Co.
, a Hong Kong-based maker of Hoover and Dirt Devil vacuum cleaners and Ryobi power tools.
In 2005, when he was replaced at Newell Rubbermaid, Galli was crushed:
As part of Mr. Galli's exit package, Newell provided a professional who counsels high-level executives. The outplacement counselor, Gail Meneley, soon met him at his home in Reisterstown, Md. She recalls that Mr. Galli hadn't slept in days and his eyes welled with tears. "He was clearly depressed," she says.
Mr. Galli agrees the ouster left him "emotionally traumatized." Two months later, Mr. Galli's handicapped 16-year-old son died. His former mother-in-law died the same day. He says the sudden losses shocked him.
The deposed chief executive endured "a humbling, eating-crow period," Ms. Meneley remembers. Mr. Galli had always used corporate jets for personal and business trips. Now, making his first trip to his counselor's Chicago office, he found himself squeezed between two overweight travelers in the last row of a full commercial flight. "The mighty have fallen," he declared when he arrived.
Interesting stuff. But my favorite part of the story is about Galli's relationship with Black & Decker Corp. The power tool company gave Galli his first break, hiring him out of college. He rose quickly, eventually heading the company's global power tools and accessories unit. But he wanted to go to the next level.
In 1986, Galli said he wanted to be the company's CEO in the next two to three years.
The guy he told was Nolan Archibald, Black & Decker's CEO.
Archibald, who is still
in charge at Black & Decker, told Galli in 1999 that he should move on. Today, at Techtronic, Galli is at the helm of a major Black & Decker competitor.
On an office computer, Mr. Galli monitors Black & Decker's share price. He occasionally calls industry analysts to point out his rival's setbacks and claim that No. 2 Techtronic will overtake it by 2011. That "would be poetic justice," he says.
What a telling little story about Galli. Hats off to Joann Lublin at the WSJ