Where are they now? Checking in with 13 of 1977's top business leaders.Return with us now to those corporate heroes of yesteryear yes·ter·year
1. The year before the present year.
2. Time past; yore.
yes . Recall their triumphs. Relive their exploits. Taste their power. And, with the vision only hindsight provides, remember how history has treated them - wondering always if it will smile on you 20 years from now.
A Number's Game: ITT's Harold S. Geneen
At $846,000 in salary and bonus, Harold Geneen Harold Sydney Geneen (January 22, 1910—November 21, 1997), was an American businessman. Harold Geneen was born in Bournemouth, Hampshire, England. He emigrated to the U.S. as an infant with his parents. He studied accounting at New York University. was the highest-paid executive in 1977; he was also perhaps the most revered. Then 67 and in his final year of an 18-year run as CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. , he was already being referred to in the press as "the fabled Harold Geneen."
Well before the acquisition binge of the '80s, Geneen and his merry band roamed the world on the make; during his tenure, Geneen undertook an astonishing a·ston·ish
tr.v. as·ton·ished, as·ton·ish·ing, as·ton·ish·es
To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. See Synonyms at surprise. 350 mergers and acquisitions-an average of some 20 each year. When he took over the hodgepodge of little European and Latin American companies in 1959, ITT ITT Initial Teacher Training (UK)
ITT I Think That
ITT Invitation To Tender
ITT Individual Time Trial (professional cycling)
ITT In This Thread (forums) had revenues of $766 million and earnings per share of 95 cents; in '77, revenues exceeded $16 billion, while earnings neared $5.
Of course, not everyone was enamored en·am·or
tr.v. en·am·ored, en·am·or·ing, en·am·ors
To inspire with love; captivate: was enamored of the beautiful dancer; were enamored with the charming island. with "the boss." Some accused him of being an unimaginative numbers grabber; others, a too-demanding ruler. But to most employees and observers, this finance man born to a modest English family was a dedicated and inspiring leader who understood the value of employee morale and the importance of taking a long-term view.
Perhaps most endearing, Geneen spoke of what he saw. Before he left office, he complained that his empire was undervalued Undervalued
A stock or other security that is trading below its true value.
The difficulty is knowing what the "true" value actually is. Analysts will usually recommend an undervalued stock with a strong buy rating. by the Street. A decade later, he admonished leveraged buyout leveraged buyout, the takeover of a company, financed by borrowed funds. Often, the target company's assets are used as security for the loans acquired to finance the purchase. pros for being like car thieves lusting after stripped auto parts. This year - at age 87 - he wrote a book (The Synergy Myth and Other Ailments of Business Today) blasting the "baloney" spewing forth from management consultants (such as the notions that managers should "nurture" workers or show social responsibility). In that book Geneen also takes issue with the belief that an overly demanding job will burn out an employee. Quoting an 18th century English philosopher, he writes: "It is better to wear out than to rust out." No doubt Harold Geneen, who still works 10-hour days overseeing the companies in which he has invested, doesn't have a speck of rust on him.
[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]
Hazy Vision: Eastman Kodak's Colby Chandler
It was perhaps prescient pre·scient
1. Of or relating to prescience.
2. Possessing prescience.
[French, from Old French, from Latin praesci that, in 1977, 51-year-old Colby H. Chandler rose to the position of Kodak president largely on his success in launching Kodak's instant-camera business. Industry publications that year hailed this "tough, tight-lipped tight·lipped also tight-lipped
1. Having the lips pressed together.
2. Loath to speak; close-mouthed. See Synonyms at silent. businessman" camouflaged in a "kindly uncle" persona as someone who would move Kodak into the future. Of course, the company's future in the instant photography business wasn't as picture-perfect as it then seemed: Kodak was ultimately forced to retreat after losing a bruising patent battle to Polaroid Corp.
So it seemed to go for Chandler during his reign at the Rochester, NY, company (the 40-year veteran got the top job in 19831. Lauded as a hero during the early part of his tenure, the ex-farmer and WWII WWII
World War II
WWII World War Two Marine sergeant slashed Kodak's bloated workforce (and such overblown o·ver·blown
Past participle of overblow.
a. Done to excess; overdone: overblown decorations.
b. perks as employee bowling alleys) and oversaw its diversification into batteries, electronic publishing systems, blood-analysis tests, and optical-disk storage systems - moves praised by many at the time as recognition that, with 80 percent of the U.S. photography market, a single-industry Kodak had little room for growth.
When his craving to be a major force in the drug industry (which he saw as synergistic with Kodak's chemical expertise) led Chandler to pay (or rather, overpay o·ver·pay
v. o·ver·paid , o·ver·pay·ing, o·ver·pays
1. To pay (a party) too much.
2. To pay an amount in excess of (a sum due).
To pay too much. ) $5.1 billion for Sterling Drug Inc., in 1988, however, critics sharpened their lenses. "He is going to be judged on that purchase," said an analyst at the time. And, unfortunately for the once-grand figure, he is. (It also doesn't help Chandler's legacy that most of the other diversified businesses went nowhere).
Credit for finally making Kodak click now goes to today's CEO, George Fisher, who cropped nearly all of the non-imaging businesses, paid down the company's mammoth debt, plowed resources back into photography - including new digital imaging products - and increased sales to previously ignored, high-growth developing countries. Chandler now watches Fisher's success from his retirement in the Rochester area (he stepped down in 1990, at Kodak's customary age of 65), where he sits on several corporate boards.
Soap-Opera Fare: Bendix' William Agee
Oh, what a difference a decade (or two) makes! Here's a boyish William M. Agee, smiling out from the pages of business magazines in 1977, a "young turk" who at age 39 had just risen to CEO of the diversified Bendix Corp. If these articles had heaped any more praise on the "zestful and wholesome" Agee ("He took the toughest courses, got the highest grades, and was a popular class officer from grade school through Stanford, the University of Idaho The university was formed by the territorial legislature of Idaho on January 30, 1889, and opened its doors on October 3, 1892 with an initial class of 40 students. The first graduating class in 1896 contained two men and two women. , and Harvard Business School Harvard Business School, officially named the Harvard Business School: George F. Baker Foundation, and also known as HBS, is one of the graduate schools of Harvard University. ," one tribute applauds), readers might have thought Paul Newman was being described. His success as senior VP at Boise Cascade and rising star at Bendix are adoringly chronicled. Then there's his personal life: Agee - married since age 19, with three small children - actually calls himself a "happy family man."
Of course, only someone living deep in one of Bendix' tree forests doesn't know how differently the end looks from that beginning. The steamy soap-opera romance with his blonde, savvy executive (soon to be his next wife), Mary Cunningham; the messy, failed takeover attempt for Martin Marietta Corp. which cost him his Bendix job; the seeming resurrection in 1988 as CEO at construction giant Morrison Knudsen Corp., which in reality became marked by low employee morale, the inability to generate steady operating-profit growth, and the Agees' desire for a lavish lifestyle at a California seaside estate far from the company's Boise headquarters (they used the company's $21 million Falcon 900 jet so often the IRS An abbreviation for the Internal Revenue Service, a federal agency charged with the responsibility of administering and enforcing internal revenue laws. argued the trips should count as income).
When it all came crashing down two years ago - both because of a tremendous financial loss that year and Agee's unrealistic desire to, as one critic put it, operate by remote control from a luxury resort - Agee fled, with a parting gift (based on his employment contract), he hoped, of $2.5 million. A shareholder lawsuit later torpedoed that dream. Among other payments from the company, the settlement called for Agee to give up all severance and much of his pension.