Westinghouse mum on tie to ex-officer


March 05, 1994|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

What's Edward N. Silcott up to these days, now that he's left Westinghouse?

That seems to be the military secret of the day at the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum, the state's largest defense manufacturing company.

Mr. Silcott, the man picked by Westinghouse in 1989 to reduce its dependence on a shrinking defense budget by developing new commercial markets, left the company last summer. But apparently not completely.

According to an in-house document, a copy of which was obtained by a Westinghouse shareholder, Mr. Silcott has been awarded a one-year consulting contract valued at $245,000.

But the company would rather not talk about it.

In response to an inquiry about the document, Westinghouse issued a short statement that said: "Yes, we have a consulting agreement with Mr. Silcott. As is not uncommon, when an executive of Mr. Silcott's talents and broad-based experience leaves a corporation, Westinghouse has entered into a short-term contract with him to take advantage of his knowledge, expertise, and advice to effect a smooth transition and to assure the necessary continuity with our customers."

Westinghouse declined to answer all other questions related to its contract, including whom Mr. Silcott reports to, the number of meetings the division has had with him, and if the consulting work is related to its commercial markets.

The company also declined to say if Mr. Silcott has an office at Westinghouse and rejected a request for help in arranging an interview with the former executive. Mr. Silcott could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Silcott was once viewed as a rising star at Westinghouse. He joined the company in 1960 as an assembly shop worker while attending night classes at the University of Baltimore.

He later received degrees in industrial engineering and law.

He rose steadily and was promoted to corporate vice president in 1989, about the time he was picked to head the local division's newly formed Commercial Systems Division.

In that job, Mr. Silcott was charged with heading Westinghouse's efforts to diversify into nonmilitary markets. These efforts included a move into the home security market, the production of automated mail sorters, and a joint venture with Chrysler Corp. on the development of an electric car.

The goal was to have half the local division's projected annual sales of $4.8 billion come from non-Department of Defense business by 1995. At the end of last year its nondefense business accounted for 30 percent of its $2.6 billion in sales.

Earlier this year, Michael H. Jordan, Westinghouse's chairman and chief executive, said the local division would be moving away from its 50/50 goal.

Instead of trying to develop new markets, Mr. Jordan said the division would concentrate primarily on growing its core businesses, including airborne and ground radar, space electronics, and air traffic control systems.

Incidentally, Mr. Silcott left Westinghouse at about the same time Mr. Jordan arrived. But that's no secret.

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