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A Lock On The Job


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A LOCK ON THE JOB

This is one CEO ouster where the CEO looks like a willing accomplice. When Borg-Warner Security Corp. Chief Executive Donald C. Trauscht agreed to step aside on Mar. 27, he handed the job over to an old friend, Emerson Electric Co. President and Borg board member J. Joseph Adorjan. The pair first met in 1969, when they helped fashion the sale of Borg's electronic-controls business to Emerson. Trauscht invited Adorjan onto Borg's board in 1993.

Initially, the board's idea was to find help for Trauscht, not replace him. But, says board member Dale W. Lang, chairman of Lang Communications, the board was "dismayed by the candidates we'd seen" during almost a year of searching for a chief operating officer who would one day become CEO. Trauscht, 61, says he suggested hiring Adorjan, 56, late last year, but Adorjan wanted to run his own show. And it took little convincing to get Trauscht, worn down from a decade of restructuring Borg, to step aside. "It has been a combat zone," says Trauscht. "I'm looking forward to some quiet."

CRIME WATCHER. Now, Adorjan (pronounced a-DOOR-jan) had best don some combat fatigues. Trauscht, other managers, and Merrill Lynch & Co. plunked down $4.4 billion to finance a leveraged buyout in 1987, and Trauscht sold seven units to pare debt. He spun off the automotive division in 1993 and refocused the company on its security business, betting that concern about crime would boost demand for Borg's guard, armored-car, and courier services.

He bet wrong. Steep price-cutting by a flood of new mom-and-pop operators has slashed margins. Borg also failed to push into the fast-growing residential-alarm business, and service was bad at other units. The result: Last year income from continuing operations fell 62%, to $13.1 million, on flat sales of $1.8 billion.

Trauscht says his cost-cutting should slice $20 million from Borg's cost structure. But Adorjan--who becomes president now but won't assume Trauscht's titles until later this year--must get Borg's alarm unit on track. He also has to settle a nasty labor spat that has hurt Borg's Pony Express Courier Corp. Still, he may be helped by his experience at Emerson, which generates fat profits in low-margin businesses--largely by keeping costs way down. That formula is just what Borg needs.By Kevin Kelly in Chicago


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