McCormick shuffles top management CEO Lawless cuts COO job, will add chairmanship; Aim is to boost growth; 5 key executives get new responsibilities, will report to chief; Manufacturing


Moving to put his stamp on McCormick & Co. Inc., Chief Executive Officer and President Robert J. Lawless yesterday shuffled top management in a way that he said would boost growth at the Sparks-based spice giant.

Under the company's new organization, the chief operating officer position, a title currently held by Lawless, will be eliminated.

"By tying things together at the top, we are going to accelerate growth in areas that are currently small," Lawless said.

Without a chief operating officer, the new structure leaves Lawless, 51, without an obvious successor. "What Lawless is saying here is that he doesn't want to pick any kind of heir apparent," said John McMillin, a food industry analyst for Prudential Securities in New York. "It's clear that a No. 2 guy won't be announced any time soon. I think this sets up a horse race for the successor."

Lawless, who was elevated from chief operating officer to become CEO at the beginning of 1997, will also assume the chairmanship of the company next spring, with the retirement of Charles P. "Buzz" McCormick Jr., who is 69.

Instead of naming a chief operating officer to be next in line, Lawless yesterday said six executives, one of whom has yet to be named, will report directly to him.

Lawless said the ages of the executives, from the late 40s to the early 50s, makes succession questions less pressing than they might otherwise be. "With the age of our executive team, we felt we could run this company with one individual at the top," he said.

The executives and changes in their assignments include:

Robert G. Davey, currently executive vice president and chief financial officer, will become president of the company's global industrial group. The change will eliminate a system that divided businesses into American, European and Asia Pacific zones. Reporting to Davey will be the McCormick Flavor Division in the United States, McCormick Pesa in Mexico and businesses in the United Kingdom, Japan, Southeast Asia and Canada.

John Molan, currently group vice president and managing director for Europe, will oversee McCormick's consumer and food service business in Europe and Asia, which are being combined into one group.

Carroll Nordhoff, executive vice president for corporate affairs, will give up responsibility for Central America, South America and global export development to a vice president of corporate strategy that the company has not yet named. Like Nordhoff, that vice president will also report to Lawless.

Francis A. Contino, managing partner in the Baltimore office of Ernst & Young, McCormick's auditing firm, will replace Davey as chief financial officer.

Bob Schroeder, vice president and general manager of McCormick/Schilling Division, will lead attempts to boost profit from the company's U.S. consumer business.

Lawless said the reorganization will not result in any job losses. "There will be opportunities for people in the realignment," he said.

He said the changes are designed to improve communications across divisions, with the ultimate goal of profit and sales growth.

McMillin, the analyst, said the plan appeared aimed at enhancing Davey's experience by giving him "some line experience," away from the company's financial books and toward its operations.

"When you see changes, it's because something is going wrong or because things are going right and you want to give promotions," McMillin said. "I think this is the latter."

Pub Date: 5/22/98

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad