MONTVALE, N.J. — Joseph B. Flavin, who directed the transformation of the Singer Co. from a venerated sewing-machine manufacturer into a jet-age defense contractor, has died after a brief illness. He was 58.
Flavin, chairman and chief executive of the company, became ill at his New Canaan, Conn., home Wednesday as he was beginning his daily commute to Singer offices in Montvale, N.J. He was pronounced dead a short time later at an area hospital, said Singer spokesman Thomas Elliot.
The spokesman said only that death was attributable to a "short illness."
Hours later, Singer's board of directors elected William F. Schmied to succeed Flavin, who had run the company since 1980.
Under Flavin, who joined Singer in 1967, the company gradually pulled away from the sewing and furniture businesses it once dominated, choosing instead to concentrate on aerospace products which now account for more than 80% of the company's revenues.
For more than 100 years after its founding in 1851, Singer was a major manufacturer of sewing machines, dining tables and bedroom sets. It entered the aerospace electronics business in 1968 by acquiring General Precision Equipment.