Fairchild Space lures Frohbieter for presidency

October 10, 1990|By Maria Mallory

Positioning itself for an expected growth spurt, Fairchild Space and Defense Corp. has hired a veteran of RCA Corp. and General Electric Co. to fill the newly created positions of president and chief operating officer at the Germantown-based company.

The 54-year-old executive, Jack Frohbieter, will be responsible for daily management of both the corporation's Germantown headquarters and its Manhattan Beach, Calif., location.

"We are looking at significant growth over, say, the next five years," says James P. Allen, chief financial officer at Fairchild.

Though Mr. Allen would not go into detail on Fairchild's expansion plans, he said the positions were created to relieve Fairchild's chairman and chief executive officer, Richard E. Brackeen, of some of his managerial duties.

Mr. Brackeen became CEO following the death in April of his predecessor, Dr. Richard DeLauer. Dr. DeLauer had been appointed after Paris-based Matra Group bought Fairchild Industries Inc.'s three space and defense electronics divisions in August 1989. Matra is a $3.6-billion-a-year corporation serving the aerospace, telecommunications and transportation markets.

Fairchild manufactures aircraft electronics systems for the military as well as satellites used for scientific applications.

Unlike some defense contractors that have been wilting under cuts in the nation's defense budget, Fairchild's markets are not only intact, but growing, according to Mr. Allen, who said, "We have a lot of good opportunities in the long term."

"We tend to be on those aircraft, or most involved in those aircraft, that are being maintained in the inventory," including F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-14 Tomcats, he said.

Mr. Frohbieter joined RCA in 1966 as a project engineer and rose through the ranks over the next two decades, working on satellite projects. Following RCA's 1986 acquisition by GE, he took over as vice president and general manager of GE's Government Electronics Systems Division, a $1.2-billion-a-year operation.

Employing about 1,700 in Maryland, Fairchild's $230 million annual revenues are almost evenly split between its space and defense contracts. Most of the rest of the company's 2,000 employees work at Manhattan Beach.

The company works directly with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, the Air Force and the Navy, and in partnership with large primary contractors such as Martin Marietta Corp., Grumman Corp. and Northrop Corp.

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