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Rocketing to the top Debut: Norman R. Augustine will address shareholders of Lockheed Martin Corp. Thursday as the CEO, a culmination of 40 years of luck and opportunity combined with a keen mind and traditional virtues.

April 21, 1996|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

When Mr. Pownall learned that Mr. Augustine planned to leave the government, he suggested that they talk about his joining Martin Marietta.

The next day Mr. Pownall called Mr. Augustine at his Pentagon office and offered him a job. Mr. Augustine, citing potential conflicts, turned it down. He mentioned four Martin programs that he was involved with in his Pentagon job. Mr. Pownall pointed out that in three of the four, Mr. Augustine had sided against Martin.

By chance, Mr. Augustine says, the Air Force general counsel was in his office at the time and overheard parts of the conversation.

"I remember him asking, 'Why did you do that?' I said, 'I probably have some conflict of interest.' "

The military counsel said, 'You don't have any conflict. There are all kinds on rules on how to deal with these situations. You can disqualify yourself on things. If you're interested, you ought to tell him you're interested and let me deal with any potential conflicts,' " Mr. Augustine recalls.

Within a few weeks he was working for Martin as head of aerospace tactical operations.

It was a steady climb to the top, with promotions every few years. Still, even when he was named president in 1986, Mr. Augustine said he didn't expect the No. 1 job.

"I've never had grand plans. I remember [in December 1987] when I was called into the boardroom and asked to be CEO of Martin Marietta. I was stunned. This sounds crazy, but I hadn't given much thought to it. I was doing my job and enjoying it."

At the helm, Mr. Augustine has a reputation of being even-tempered. His management style is to hire the best, and then to get out of their way.

Two years ago, when Northrop Corp. suddenly outbid Martin Marietta for what looked like a done deal for Grumman Corp., he folded his cards and walked away. When the merger with Lockheed was imminent, he was content to let Lockheed chief Daniel M. Tellep assume the limelight as the first CEO of the new company.

"What really makes him tick? I don't know," says his wife of 35 years, Meg Augustine. "He feels good when he make a contribution. There's a personal feeling of accomplishment, but he doesn't gloat. He moves on to something else. I think it's his mother's influence about working hard to be someone."

Mr. Augustine devotes the same ferocious energy to his life off the job that he brings to his professional life.

"Whatever my dad is doing he puts more than 100 percent into it," says his daughter, Rene Augustine, 30, a lawyer with Covington & Burling in Washington.

She was in the second grade, she recalled, when the local Arlington, Texas, YMCA father and daughter club held a kite contest.

"Dad got the idea we should win the prize for the biggest kite. Well, he didn't just make the biggest kite. He made the biggest kite. It was the box kite the size of a mobile home."

But it had to fly. "I still remember all the fathers running along the soccer field pulling this thing and sure enough it flew."

Greg Augustine, 32, now an engineer with Loral in Denver, recalls one of his own projects with his father. When he was in the Cub Scouts, his father helped him build a small race car for the pine box derby. In addition to polishing the axles on a lathe to reduce friction, Mr. Augustine brought home some powder lubricant used in jet engines to use on the axles. "We ended up winning the derby two years in a row, thanks to my father's engineering advice."

The Augustines live in a rambling contemporary home in Potomac, where houses sell for between $600,000 and $3.2 million. There's a pool in the back yard, and tucked in among the pines is a tennis court with lights, but Greg and Rene both say their father is not big on status symbols. They tell of the old Buick, a four-door sedan he drove. "The roof was rusting," said Rene. "It was ugly. My Mom was embarrassed to ride in it. But Dad always had this 100,000-mile rule. You wouldn't consider getting a new car unless it had 100,000 miles on it."

"If it was not for my mother," said Rene, "Dad would be renting a little house somewhere, driving that Buick and wearing suits he bought when he was 30."

Mr. Augustine says Meg, a native of Sweden, has been an inspiration. "My wife came to America when she was 19 with $50 in her pocket. She arrived alone on a boat in Manhattan. I would never have had the courage to do that."

Mrs. Augustine says she still gets tears when the National Anthem is played. That fervent patriotism, says Rene, has reinforced her father's. Each year, the family celebrates the anniversary of her citizenship.

Family members say the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Mr. Augustine plays as hard as he works. "He is always on the go," says Greg. Within the family he is affectionately known as Sergeant Norm -- a moniker that stems from his waking them at daybreak on vacation to go hiking in the mountains.

He has gone dog sledding in the Arctic and climbed volcanoes in the Antarctic. He has taken a hot air balloon trip across Africa and traveled the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon.

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