Albert J. Dunlap, Tough Executive Known as Chainsaw Al, Dies at 81
Albert J. Dunlap, a tough-talking government whose ardor for turning round firms by means of shedding staff and shutting factories earned him the nickname Chainsaw Al, however whose profession led to an accounting scandal, died on Jan. 25 at his house in Ocala, Fla. He used to be 81.
The reason used to be prostate most cancers, stated Eric Carr, a pal and government with the fund-raising arm of Florida State University athletics, to which Mr. Dunlap pledged greater than $40 million.
Mr. Dunlap portrayed himself as a foe of company waste and a servant of the shareholders who benefited from his movements. In the 1990s, when he ran Scott Paper, he laid off 11,200 staff; it used to be only one measure he took that introduced him monetary rewards of $100 million in wage, inventory income and different reimbursement after engineering the corporate’s sale to Kimberly-Clark in 1995.
“Sure, people had to get fired, but as time goes by that company will grow and prosper and new jobs will be created,” he instructed The South Florida Sun-Sentinel quickly after.
Mr. Dunlap used to be quickly employed by means of Sunbeam Corporation, an equipment maker, and inside a month anticipation on Wall Street about Mr. Dunlap’s plans to overtake the corporate despatched its stocks hovering by means of 73 %. He didn’t disappoint the buyers: He promptly introduced that he would halve Sunbeam’s paintings pressure of 12,000 other people; shut or promote maximum of its crops and different amenities; and pare its choice of product strains.
“I’ve done this enough times to recognize the death gurgle of a corporation,” he instructed the reporter Hedrick Smith for “Surviving the Bottom Line,” a PBS documentary collection. “And this corporation had the death gurgle.”
Unlike different company executives who laid off much more staff, the preternaturally assured Mr. Dunlap unapologetically boasted that the brutal potency of his strategies used to be important to saving the roles that weren’t axed. In 1996, as an example, he stepped ahead when dozens of different executives refused to talk to Newsweek for a canopy article, titled “Corporate Killers,” about downsizing.
“We’re painted as villains but we’re not,” Mr. Dunlap stated. “We’re more like doctors. We know it’s painful to operate, but it’s the only way to keep the patient from dying.”
He stated he used to be an recommend of company governance reforms, like paying administrators in inventory as an alternative of money, to raised align their pursuits with the ones of shareholders, and restricting administrators to unmarried five-year phrases.
Mr. Dunlap performed to the picture of a bull in a company china store, accepting nicknames like “Rambo in Pinstripes” and “The Shredder.” He preached his motto — “You’re not in business to be liked. If you want a friend, get a dog” — and wrote an autobiography with the name “Mean Business: How I Saved Bad Companies and Make Good Companies Great” (1996, with Bob Andelman).
“The Al Dunlaps of the world would not be hired if corporate people did their jobs,” he wrote. “But because some executives can’t make decisions or consistently make the wrong decisions, their incompetence virtually screams out for an Al Dunlap.”
His critics incorporated Robert B. Reich, the secretary of work in 1996, when Mr. Dunlap introduced that he used to be shedding part of Sunbeam’s staff.
“There is no excuse for treating employees as if they are disposable pieces of equipment,” Mr. Reich stated in an interview with The New York Times that 12 months.
Albert John Dunlap used to be born on July 26, 1937, in Hoboken, N.J. Differing circle of relatives accounts say his father used to be both a dockworker or a boilermaker and his mom both a shop clerk or a homemaker. Albert performed soccer in highschool in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., and boxed as a cadet at the United States Military Academy.
After commencement, he skilled as a paratrooper at Fort Benning, Ga., then served as an officer at a nuclear missile facility in Maryland.
He started his trade profession in Kimberly Clark’s control coaching program, running on “the third shift at a dirty, smelly paper mill,” he wrote in his guide. After 4 years there, and emerging to undertaking chief, he used to be employed by means of Sterling Pulp & Paper as basic superintendent and began turning its faltering operations round.
A decade later he joined American Can in its strategic making plans team, then moved to jobs at Lily-Tulip Cup, a big paper cup producer; Crown Zellerbach, a trees and pulp company; and Consolidated Press Holdings, a media and publishing corporate in Australia.
He used to be named chairman and leader government of Scott in 1994, taking up an organization stressed by means of prime debt and depressed income. Within two years he had organized its sale to Kimberly-Clark for $6.eight billion and left to take over Sunbeam.
But in June 1998, Mr. Dunlap’s company profession got here to a snappy finish.
Sunbeam’s board fired him within the wake of a number of quarterly income disappointments and regulatory filings that confirmed that Sunbeam had necessarily implemented 1998 bills — from shops purchasing barbeque grills — to the former 12 months’s books, making a false image of a surge in 1997 gross sales.
Shareholders quickly filed swimsuit towards Mr. Dunlap and the corporate. With a crushing debt load, Sunbeam filed for chapter in 2001.
The information persevered to worsen for Mr. Dunlap, even within the years after he left Sunbeam.
In 2002, he and different Sunbeam executives paid $15 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit that accused them of the use of inflated inventory costs to finish the corporate’s purchases of Coleman, a producer of tenting and recreational merchandise, and First Alert, a maker of smoke alarms.
Later that 12 months, Mr. Dunlap settled a civil swimsuit filed by means of the Securities and Exchange Commission that accused him of a number of counts of accounting fraud that misrepresented Sunbeam’s monetary effects. He paid a $500,000 fantastic and agreed to be barred from ever once more serving as an officer or director of an organization. He neither admitted nor denied the allegations.
In a 2nd version of his autobiography, printed in 2014, Mr. Dunlap deleted just about the whole lot he had written about Sunbeam.
Survivors come with his spouse, Judy Stringer, however entire details about survivors used to be now not instantly to be had.
In contemporary years Mr. Dunlap used to be a outstanding supporter of Florida State, the place he gave $five million to construct a Student Success Center on its Tallahassee campus, and introduced a present of $20 million closing October to lend a hand construct a soccer facility, which bears his identify. A statue of Mr. Dunlap stands outdoor it.
For all his generosity to Florida State, on the other hand, Mr. Dunlap’s popularity rests extra on his being an unbridled cost-cutter whose movements enriched shareholders and himself.
“I’m a superstar in my field, much like Michael Jordan in basketball and Bruce Springsteen in rock ‘n’ roll,” he wrote in his autobiography. “My pay should be compared to superstars in other fields, not to the average C.E.O.”