It took the biggest merger in the history of the aerospace industry to get Daniel M. Tellep to finally change companies after 39 years. The 62-year-old chief executive of Lockheed Corp. was officially named CEO of the new Lockheed Martin Corp. as part of the merger with Martin Marietta announced Tuesday.
Tellep took control in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, and analysts credit him with guiding Lockheed through the turbulence that has rocked the defense industry in the intervening years.
Despite dwindling U.S. outlays for defense, Lockheed's profits have climbed steadily over the past three years, with the company earning $422 million in 1993 on sales of $13.1 billion. Its stock price has nearly doubled since 1989.
But in the process of endearing himself to many of Lockheed's biggest shareholders, he, like other defense CEOs, took a meat-ax to the work force. Lockheed's California payroll, which numbered almost 40,000 at the start of 1988, has been nearly halved through layoffs and transfers.
Tellep's efforts to diversify away from the defense business have also met with only limited success. For example, Lockheed's commercial aircraft refurbishing unit at now-deactivated Norton Air Force Base was forced to close earlier this year for lack of customers.
Tellep would not say much about his plans for the new company Tuesday, adding that a study is under way to determine what lines of business it should pursue and where possible staff reductions could be made.
Some analysts aren't sure how long Tellep may decide to stay on. An avid tennis player who also jogs and relaxes by flying gliders and painting, he appears to be in fine physical shape. But some analysts speculate that Tellep may leave sooner to clear the way for Norman Augustine, 59, the Martin Marietta chief executive who has already been picked to succeed Tellep when he retires.
At a Tuesday news conference, Tellep said he will retire within three years. But an insider at the company said his retirement could come as early as next year.
Daniel M. Tellep
Born: Nov. 20, 1931, in Forest City, Pa.
Education: Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, UC Berkeley, 1954; master's in mechanical engineering, UC Berkeley, 1955.
Career highlights: Joined Lockheed Missiles & Space Systems as a scientist in 1955. Became vice president in 1983 and president in 1986. Was named chairman and chief executive of parent Lockheed Corp. in 1989. Last year engineered the $1.5-billion purchase of General Dynamics' military aircraft operations, an acquisition that made Lockheed the world's biggest builder of fighter planes. Has also tried to diversify the company into other businesses, such as airport management and information services, but with limited success.