A Haworth Is At The Helm Again

September 18, 2004
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HOLLAND — The management change at Haworth Inc. restores a family member to solid day-to-day control of the company.

Richard Haworth, who began his career with his father's company 40 years ago at the age of 22, assumed chief executive officer duties last week following the abrupt departure of Robert Krasa, who joined the family-owned company less than two years ago after leaving the publicly held Dow Corning Corp.

The addition of CEO duties to Haworth's role as chairman, where he has focused on strategic planning since giving up day-to-day management of the 56-year-old company, put a family member fully back at the helm for the first time in seven years. Haworth previously served as CEO from 1976 to 1997.

"It leaves a solid impression, internally and externally, that the Haworth family is in charge and the Haworth family is running the business, and it gives a pretty sound impression that Dick's in charge," said office furniture industry analyst Mike Dunlap of Michael A. Dunlap & Associates of West Olive.

The management change comes as Haworth Inc., like other players in the office furniture industry coming out of the deep three-year downturn, is transforming itself into a producer of complete workspaces, rather than furnishings. Krasa's departure also comes just a few weeks after 12-year Haworth veteran Franco Bianchi was named chief operating officer for Haworth's North American operations.

At a time of transition, Richard Haworth's return as CEO "puts somebody in the top position who obviously knows the inner workings of the company and knows the details," Dunlap said.

The company's only explanation for Krasa's resignation and departure was that he wanted to retire to spend more time with his family and "pursue many interests." Krasa was just the second non-family member to hold the CEO's position, a role he took on after spending just a little more than a year at Haworth

Richard Haworth, the son of founder G.W. Haworth, gave up the CEO's position in 1997 when Gerald Johanneson, a long-time Haworth executive, was named chief executive, becoming the first non-family member to run the company.

Krasa joined Haworth in late 2001 as president and general manager of the North American contract furnishings division and was named president and CEO when Johanneson retired in January 2003.

Haworth's return to CEO is a permanent move, company spokesman David Adamski said.

"He loves the business and he's getting a little bit closer to it now and is committed to it," Adamski said. "And he also has a strong and experienced executive team in place."

The top management team, working as the Haworth Executive Office, now consists of Haworth as chairman and CEO, Bianchi as chief operating officer of Haworth North America and global vice president of product line management, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of International Sectors Calvin Kreuze, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing Gary Scitthelm and Vice President of Global Human Resources Nancy Teutsch.

"This new, executive organization will enable us to move with singularity of purpose to achieve our strategies," Haworth said in a prepared statement. "The Haworth Executive Office aligns the strategies of our sectors and our operations. With clarity of direction and the ability to act decisively, this team will move swiftly to achieve our objectives."    

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