Fitting the ďBillĒ Meet the New Quanex
by Tara Taffera
The designation of William (Bill) C. Griffiths as the new president
and CEO of Quanex in early July, may have seemed like a sudden change.
Indeed, it came on the heels of the unexpected resignation of David Petratis,
former CEO, who resigned to accept a position with Allegion and Griffiths
tells DWM magazine that the Quanex board was shocked. But that doesnít
mean they werenít prepared.
DWM sat down with Griffiths just two and a half
weeks into his new role to find out what change to expect, what his immediate
focus will be and challenges facing the Houston based company.
DWM: Why do you feel you are the
right executive to be the new CEO?
Griffiths: Well I have more than 30 years
experienceómuch of it international. I have worked all over the world
and clearly part of our strategy is to expand globally. I also have had
direct involvement in building products through the modular and manufacturing
housing business, which gives me some relevant experience. I have been
on the board for a four-year period which gives me a detailed knowledge
of the strategy and, in fact, I have been very involved in working with
the management team on that strategy. As a result, I also know all the
senior and developing middle managers etc.
DWM: Is this an interim position or
Griffiths: Itís long-term. On June 4 even
before this [Petratis resigned] we had a succession plan in place: we
always have a plan for an emergency situation. Should that situation arise,
we had decided that we would pick one of three directors, myself included,
and decided we would tap one of them. We plan for an emergency situation
generally, but we never make a specific final determination until that
happens. As it turned out, David resigned and this was equally as sudden
and quite frankly surprising as any of the situations for which we had
DWM: I know Quanex had some layoffs
across all segments recently. Why was that necessary?
Griffiths: The issue for us is that we are in the middle of a massive
project to put in a company-wide Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
The expenses on that are running higher than we had anticipated. That
in and of itself wasnít the only reason for cost reductions. We also have
our Nichols Aluminum business that is suffering from depressed prices
and that situation is impacting financial results. David put a cost reduction
program in place and that is past us now. I donít expect another wave
[of layoffs] absent a material change in the environment.
DWM: How are you facing those challenges
of supply/pricing issues related to aluminum?
Griffiths: What I am doing now is my own
review of the cost structure of the business and my own detailed review
of operations. It is too early to tell if we will have to make further
changesóit has only been two and a half weeks. My expectation is that
by the time we get to GlassBuild America I will be in a position to talk
more openly and publicly about what we may want to do about any shift
in strategy or internal changes that will be necessary.
DWM: What are the biggest challenges
Griffiths: Itís three fold. One, itís taking a close look at where
we are with our ERP implementation and where that goes in the futureóthis
is a very large undertaking and is the first issue I need to get my arms
The second is trying to better understand what the future
may hold with Nichols Aluminum as we are at the mercy of the commodity
Third, there is very clearly starting to be a rebound in
building products. My belief is that we are at the bottom and ready to
take off. The question is how fast is the recovery and how soon will it
really take root. At some point, it will snap back fast and I want to
make sure we will be ready to take advantage of that. y
© Copyright 2013 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.