Ferris president leaving to run tool company

January 26, 1993|By David Conn | David Conn,Staff Writer

Richard P. Sullivan, president of Ferris, Baker Watts Inc., has resigned as an officer of the regional investment banking company to run the J. L. Wickham Co., a Baltimore machine tools manufacturer.

Mr. Sullivan, president of the Washington-based banking company since 1988, had replaced former Wickham founder John L. Wickham as chairman last spring. Mr. Sullivan now takes over as chief executive as well.

Mr. Wickham had been concentrating primarily on sales since then, and resigned Friday, said Mr. Sullivan, who remains vice chairman and a director of Ferris.

Mr. Sullivan, who has been an investor in Wickham together with Ferris, Baker Watts since 1991, said Mr. Wickham was unhappy with his diminished role in the company.

Mr. Wickham yesterday declined to comment on the reasons for his departure. He said he was looking at several possibilities for the future.

Mr. Sullivan, 59, said privately held Wickham would be trying to raise up to $2 million in capital next week with a rights offering to the company's 125 shareholders. Depending on how well that offering goes, he and the company's other investors, including the Abell Foundation and the Walnut Capital Corp. of Chicago, might increase their investments in Wickham.

Mr. Wickham, a Black & Decker Corp. alumnus, started his company in 1983 with five employees. Wickham designs and builds computer-aided manufacturing systems for corporations including General Motors Corp., Chrysler Corp. and Dresser Industries.

The recipient of a state award for economic excellence in 1990, Wickham had 85 employees last May when it raised $3.45 million from investors, including Ferris and Mr. Sullivan, in exchange for 30 percent of the company's equity.

Now there are about 50 employees, Mr. Wickham said, adding that "the business is doing pretty well. Things look quite favorable."

Mr. Sullivan, who worked out of Ferris' Baltimore offices, agreed, although he said it wasn't that way in May when the board appointed him chairman of Wickham. At the same time, Dario Giannetti was hired as interim chief executive, and the company embarked on "a process of reorganizing the company and trying to lower our costs," Mr. Sullivan said.

Mr. Giannetti is now technical director, and Mr. Sullivan has returned full time to the manufacturing industry. In the 1980s, he was chairman and chief executive officer of Easco Corp., a hand tools manufacturer.

He left Easco to join the former Baker Watts Inc. in 1987, a year before it was acquired by Ferris.

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