Black & Decker Corp. lost two top executives earlier this year to a new Pennsylvania technology company called AirClic Inc., and now three more executives, all of whom have been at the Towson toolmaker for more than a decade, have left to join the start-up.
John P. Constantine, 35, formerly Black & Decker's vice president of marketing and a 13-year veteran of the company, left to take the same title at AirClic.
Paul G. Boitmann, 39, who had been with the toolmaker for 18 years - most recently as vice president of U.S. sales - will become a vice president of sales at AirClic, as will Richard L. Kern Jr., 35, president and general manager of Black & Decker's Lowe's division. He worked at the toolmaker for 15 years.
"If you look at their backgrounds and the responsibilities they had at Black & Decker, it's a perfect fit for what we're going to go out and accomplish with the new AirClic company," said David A. Klatt, chief executive.
Klatt resigned from his position as Black & Decker's vice president of North American consumer power tools in March after 14 years at the company. J. Patrick Robinson, vice president for worldwide power tools at Black & Decker, also left at that time - after 18 years with the company - to become AirClic's chief financial officer.
Black & Decker, which employs about 1,200 at its Towson headquarters, has "certainly lost a lot of people recently - I think it's a problem in general for companies perceived as old economy companies," said Elizabeth Shamir, an analyst at PNC Advisors in Philadelphia.
"It really does get down to the size of the organization, and the reason we are able to recruit the best and the brightest is because there are advancement avenues," said Barbara Lucas, Black & Decker's senior vice president for public affairs. "You would expect a certain amount of turnover among senior jobs because people at that level get seasoned and do become attractive to other companies."
She said replacements have already been selected.
AirClic, based in West Conshohocken, Pa., has developed a product that will allow people to use handheld wireless devices - such as cellular phones or electronic planners - to instantly buy or research products they see in magazines or newspapers.
Eventually, the company hopes, most advertised products will feature a tiny bar code that can be scanned with the handheld device, allowing for instant impulse purchases or simply the ability to scan in information that can later be viewed on a personal computer.
For example, someone browsing through the New Yorker could use the scanner to instantly purchase a wool jacket that was featured in an advertisement.
AirClic recently partnered with Motorola, Symbol Technologies and an affiliate of LM Ericsson AB to invest $500 million in the new technology. Klatt said the product likely will be launched in the second quarter of 2001.