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Bell Ousted as President of Ducommun

April 01, 1987|CARLA LAZZARESCHI

W. Donald Bell, president and chief operating officer of Ducommun Inc. for the past 13 months, has been fired just a week after the aerospace and electronics distribution company announced an unexpectedly high 1986 loss of $19.2 million.

In the company's official written announcement Tuesday, Bell was said to have resigned, but no reason was given.

But Chairman and CEO Wallace W. Booth said in an interview Tuesday that Bell was asked to submit his resignation as corporate president, director and president of Kierulff, Ducommun's largest division, in the wake of the "unpleasant last-minute surprise" in the last quarter of 1986. The fourth-quarter loss of $18.6 million was about twice what analysts and others on Wall Street had been projecting.

Booth, who had handpicked the 49-year-old Bell as his successor last year, said he again will act as president of Cypress-based Ducommun until its problems are identified and resolved. Booth, widely regarded as a tough taskmaster, named William J. Smith, 42, formerly vice president of marketing for Kierulff, as president of the electronic components distribution division.

Bell's departure from Ducommun's executive suite marks the second time in two years that Booth, 64, has fired his heir apparent. In February, 1986, he released David G. Schmidt from his duties as president, citing differences in business philosophy.

Bell, in an interview Tuesday, argued that his ouster, like his predecessor's, was due to differences with Booth's management style and philosophy.

"The fourth quarter has to be tagged to someone's tail and it might as well be mine," Bell said. "But that's not the reason I left. It has more to do with business and management style."

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