Robert D. Welding Resigns

Robert D. Welding resigned his position as president and chief executive officer of Federal Signal Corporation, the parent company of fire apparatus manufacturer E-ONE, effective Jan 1.

The surprise announcement came a little more than a month after Welding told shareholders and Wall Street investment bankers that E-ONE would lose up to $12 million in 2007, its largest loss ever.

The company named former United Airlines CEO James E. Goodwin, 63, as interim president and chief executive while it looks for a replacement.

Welding, 59, joined Federal Signal in 2003. Goodwin has been on the company’s board for two years.

E-ONE President Peter Guile, 42, who assumed his position in July, was quick to point out to Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment that the fire rescue division is just one part of Federal Signal, a 106-year-old company with $1.3 billion in annual sales and 5,400 employees around the world.

Guile, who has been an executive with Federal Signal for 11 years, took over E-ONE amid turmoil and uncertainty following Welding’s turn down of a $27-million aid package from Marion County and the State of Florida to help the company build a brand new plant there.

The Florida legislature voted its part of the package in April and by May all Federal had to do was pick up the money and commit to build. But Welding had other plans. This led to months of uncertainty.

 “Overall, Federal Signal Corporation has a very strong balance sheet and long record to profitability,” Guile said. “Customers shouldn’t have any concern about placing orders or our ability to deliver superior quality apparatus on time.”

In 2006, Federal Signal, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, produced $70 million in operating income, although the E-ONE subsidiary lost money that year too, and for several past years.

Responding directly to recommendations by columnist Robert Barraclough in the last issue of this magazine, Guile said, “E-ONE would be pleased to provide performance bonds on apparatus orders to any customers who felt them necessary.”

Barraclough had noted that several departments lost money last year when a small manufacturer, New Lexington in Pennsylvania, had suddenly shut down, and performance and payment bonds were designed to insure completion of orders in progress.

Federal Signal Chairman James C. Janning said in a written statement: “We appreciate Bob Welding’s efforts in repositioning Federal Signal’s business lines, and we thank him for his contributions. We are fortunate in Jim Goodwin to have a proven leader with broad management experience.”

Goodwin said he had been impressed with Federal Signal’s employees and its products. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve as the leader of this dynamic company with its 106-year-long tradition of market leadership,” he said. “I will immediately begin working with the board and employees to prioritize initiatives and strengthen and grow Federal Signal.”

The board formed a search committee of directors to find a replacement for Welding.

E-ONE and a smaller company, Finland-based Bronto Skylift, form Federal Signal’s Fire Rescue Group, which accounts for about 25 percent of the parent company’s revenue. Federal Signal does not report E-ONE’s revenue separately for competitive reasons, according to a spokesman.

Federal Signal, founded in 1901 and based in Oak Brook, Ill., designs and manufactures a suite of products that include Bronto aerial devices, Elgin and Ravo street sweepers, E-ONE fire apparatus, Federal Signal safety and security systems, Guzzler industrial vacuums, Jetstream waterblasters and Vactor sewer cleaners. In addition, the company operates a consumable industrial tooling business.

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