New Sunbeam Chief Takes Over
Jun. 15, 1998
NEW YORK (AP) _ Sunbeam's new chief may be no chain saw, but Jerry Levin doesn't mind slashing jobs if it means higher profits.
Levin, a longtime lieutenant of big Sunbeam investor Ronald Perelman, takes over from Al ``Chain Saw'' Dunlap, who earned a reputation in corporate America as a ruthless cost cutter who thought himself a savior of sick companies.
While Levin doesn't have such a colorful reputation, he took over as head of camping equipment maker Coleman Co. last year and within months announced plans to close four factories, eliminate 700 jobs and slash a third of its product line.
Levin came in with Coleman's stock languishing around $12 per share. Sunbeam's deal to buy the company in March valued the stock at $30.
``I am committed to running Sunbeam for as long as it takes to fix the problems,'' Levin said in a conference call with analysts Monday.
Perelman, who wound up with 13 percent of Sunbeam after selling Coleman, has turned to Levin several times to turn around his companies _ often getting them in shape for sale.
Shortly after Perelman bought Coleman in 1989, he brought in Levin. Levin pared the company back and in 1991 moved on to run Revlon for Perelman where he took the company from a $102.8 million loss in 1994 to a $17.8 million profit in 1996. Revlon was sold to the public in a 1996 public stock offering at $24 per share. It closed at $47.56 1/4 on Monday.
The key to Revlon's success was a line of smear-proof lipstick that quickly surged to become the top seller in drugstores. Motivation was one of his success stories at Revlon. He created Lipstick University to improve teamwork, and he promised similar programs in the next few months at Sunbeam.