Rosenberg retiring at Crown

At helm since 1966, CEO to be succeeded by his son Frank

April 27, 2001|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., the long-serving head of Crown Central Petroleum Corp. and one of the area's major philanthropists, said yesterday that he will retire Tuesday as president and chief executive officer.

Grandson of the company's founder, Rosenberg has headed Crown since 1966.

"It's bittersweet. I'm glad on the one hand - I've had a lot of good years, and I hope I've done some good," Rosenberg, 71, said yesterday. "I'll miss it, but I'll be around."

He will remain chairman of both Crown and Rosemore Inc., Crown's parent company. His son, Frank B. Rosenberg, will become Crown president and chief executive. He has been senior vice president for marketing since 1996.

Rosenberg's other son, Edward "Ned" Rosenberg, is CEO of Rosemore, which took Crown private last month after buying out stockholders for $10.50 a share.

The last decade of Rosenberg's long stewardship was marked by a volatile oil market, years of losses , a sinking stock price, a five-year labor dispute and a fight for control of the company.

"It's been very challenging," Rosenberg said. "The whole business, the whole economy, is very challenging. It's not as simple as it used to be."

Crown's relationship with Baltimore goes back to 1910 when Louis Blaustein, Henry Rosenberg's maternal grandfather, founded American Oil Co. (Amoco). Blaustein and his son, Jacob, invented the drive-through filling station and a gas meter that allowed customers to see how much gasoline they were buying.

Standard Oil of Indiana bought half of the company in 1925 and the Blausteins lost control of Amoco but became one of the largest shareholders in what is now BP Amoco. Five years later, Blaustein bought Crown, which had been founded by Texas speculators in 1917.

Crown became public in 1935, with Rosenberg's family holding about 45 percent of the company's shares until buying the remainder last month after a bitter bidding war with Apex Oil of St. Louis. Since going private, the company has been close-mouthed about its plans.

"We know that in this day and age you can't stand still," the elder Rosenberg said. "There are a lot of associations and consolidations and mergers, and we've got to be aware of that. We need to take a good look at what we are and who we are and make sure we're doing the right thing not only for today but for tomorrow."Rosenberg said his son Frank, who declined to comment yesterday, has "got a lot on his shoulders."

Some industry experts and analystsy feel that Crown is too small a player to survive on its own and that it must join forces with a major refiner in order to succeed. Indeed, in federal filings Crown indicated that it may sell its two refineries, located in Texas, and focus solely on its 329 gasoline stations in the mid-Atlantic region.

Crown also announced yesterday that its vice president and corporate secretary, Delores B. Rawlings, also is retiring Tuesday after 44 years with the company.

J. Steven Wise, manager of corporate and government affairs, is leaving May 15. He is graduating from law school and will clerk for a judge in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Rosenberg, who is chairman of Kennedy Krieger Institute's board and a major supporter of the Boy Scouts, said he plans to remain active in his philanthropic endeavors.

He planned, however, to board a plane bound for Italy with his wife, Dorothy, last night to begin a week-long vacation. But he expects to spend a fair amount of time in the office upon his return.

Crown has "meant a lot to me, it's been an important part of my life," he said. "I love the business."

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