It's Time to Play - Know Your CEOs

Chainsaw Al Dunlap

He anointed himself America's best CEO. But Al Dunlap drove Sunbeam into the ground .

Chainsaw Al's Waterloo

July 19, 1996
Dunlap is named chairman and CEO of Sunbeam. The stock jumps nearly 50%, from 12 1/2 to 18 5/8.

Nov. 13, 1996
Dunlap announces plans to ax half of Sunbeam's 12,000 employees and close or sell two-thirds of its 18 manufacturing plants.

Oct. 23, 1997
Dunlap hires Morgan Stanley to explore ''strategic alternatives,'' including acquisitions or Sunbeam's sale.

Jan. 28, 1998
Dunlap declares a turnaround, reporting record sales and earnings for 1997.

Mar. 2, 1998
Dunlap announces a trio of acquisitions: camping-gear maker Cole- man, smoke-alarm producer First Alert, and Mr. Coffee maker Signature Brands.

Mar. 4, 1998
Sunbeam stock closes at a record high of $52 a share.

Apr. 3, 1998
Stock falls 25%, to 34 3/8, after PaineWebber analyst Andrew Shore issues downgrade and company shocks Wall Street by posting a first-quarter loss.

May 11, 1998
Dunlap tells investors he took his eye ''off the ball,'' says that it will ''never happen again.''

June 9, 1998
Dunlap demands board support or, he says, he and Vice-Chairman and CFO Russell Kersh will resign.

June 13, 1998
Outside directors fire Dunlap.

June 14, 1998
Board agrees to hire Jerry Levin, a longtime aide to financier Ronald Perelman, as new chief executive.

How Al Chainsaw Dunlap Self Destructed
Rarely does anyone express joy at another's misfortune, but Dunlap's ouster elicited unrestrained glee from many quarters. Former employees who had been victims of his legendary chainsaw nearly danced in the streets of Coshatta, La., where Dunlap shuttered a plant. Says David M. Friedson, CEO of Windmere-Durable Holdings Inc.(WND), a competitor of Sunbeam: ''He is the logical extreme of an executive who has no values, no honor, no loyalty, and no ethics. And yet he was held up as a corporate god in our culture. It greatly bothered me.''

Even members of his own family--long estranged from the man--seemed ebullient. Upon hearing the news of his father's sacking on CNBC at 6:20 a.m. in Seattle, Troy Dunlap chortled. ''I laughed like hell,'' says Dunlap's 35-year-old son and only child. ''I'm glad he fell on his ass. I told him Sunbeam would be his Dunkirk.'' Dunlap's sister, Denise, his only sibling, heard the news from a friend in New Jersey. Her only thought: ''He got exactly what he deserved.''

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