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Dan Wilkie Resigns as President of Tandon After Plan is Rejected

August 04, 1987|JAMES BATES | Times Staff Writer

Dan H. Wilkie, who Tandon hired away from IBM two years ago in an effort to launch a major personal computer business, has resigned as president and chief operating officer of the Chatsworth company.

The resignation came after the company's founder and chief executive, Sirjang Lal (Jugi) Tandon, rejected a Wilkie plan that would have changed management lines of authority, said Jean Deleage, a Tandon director. Deleage declined to elaborate, except to say that Wilkie's plans "were not in the best interest of the company, according to Mr. Tandon," who could not be reached for comment.

Wilkie, 44, also resigned as a Tandon director. He will remain a company employee and continue to draw his annual base salary of $270,000 under an employment contract that runs until the end of 1989.

In an interview, Wilkie refused to comment on the reason for his departure, other than to say, "It's not that Jugi and I had a big fight and split."

He said he is working on "pet projects," specifically a plan with some other Tandon executives to acquire the company's personal computer and disk-drive repair business.

Wilkie said he would be chief executive of the new company if the deal goes through and that Tandon Corp. could get some much-needed cash from the transaction.

Recruited by Tandon

An 18-year veteran of IBM, Wilkie played a key role in developing that company's successful personal computer in 1981. He was in charge of operations at the IBM PC manufacturing facility in Boca Raton, Fla., when recruited by Tandon. In addition to his base salary, Wilkie received options to buy 450,000 shares of Tandon's common stock within four years at $2.75 a share. The stock closed Monday at $4.62 1/2, off 6 cents.

Computer industry analysts and executives expressed surprise at Wilkie's resignation.

"Dan has made excellent progress, in my view, from the difficulties they've had. I hope it doesn't affect their continued progress," said Burt I. Helfinstein, chairman and chief executive of Entre Computer Centers, a Vienna, Va., firm that is the biggest domestic dealer of Tandon computers.

Wilkie was hired in a highly publicized move by Sirjang Tandon in November, 1985, and given the task of stemming the company's losses.

Closed Factories

During Wilkie's tenure, Tandon closed factories and transferred manufacturing to more cheaply operated plants in Singapore. He also helped bring the once-ailing company, which previously made only disk-drive memory equipment, into the business of manufacturing IBM-compatible personal computers.

The departure comes as Tandon has been reporting some of its best financial results in years. Last month, the company disclosed that it earned $5.6 million in the third quarter ended June 28 as sales rose 58% to $81.8 million. A year earlier, the company lost $20.3 million, primarily because of problems with a disk-drive factory in San Jose.

Along with Wilkie, Tandon hired three other key executives who helped develop the IBM personal computer--H. L. Sparks, William Sydnes and Joseph A. Sarubbi. Sparks and Sydnes have since resigned.

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