STANTON — Financially ailing Boyds Wheels Inc. said Monday that company founder Boyd Coddington has resigned as chairman and chief executive officer.
The renowned hot-rod designer and builder will remain a member of the company's board of directors and serve as a design and marketing consultant under a long-term agreement.
Gardiner S. Dutton, a recent addition to the Boyds Wheels board and a longtime manufacturing industry executive, has been appointed interim chairman and chief executive.
Most of Boyds Wheels' other officers have been replaced in the past year as the company began reporting losses, and its stock, once a market darling, plunged from a November 1996 high of $16.63 to Monday's close of $2.63.
Boyds President David Ascher said company officials "are building a team that can successfully refocus and streamline this company." Coddington's resignation, he said, was the last piece of a restructuring program that began in June when Ascher, a manufacturing industry specialist, was hired to resuscitate the company.
Coddington's departure was foreshadowed last month when the company's chief financial officer, Rex Ours, resigned to go back to work as a public accountant.
Simultaneously with Ours' resignation, Boyds was hit by the bankruptcy of a major customer that left it with an unpaid bill of almost $500,000.
"It will not be a good third quarter," Ascher said at the time, adding that it would be "well into next year" before Boyds Wheels' financial condition improves significantly.
Coddington could not be reached for comment Monday.
He started Boyds Wheels a decade ago to make high-quality aluminum wheels for his expensive custom hot rods. Demand for the wheels grew rapidly, and soon the wheel business was bringing in more money than the hot-rod shop.
Coddington, whose name is revered in custom-car circles, expanded his product lineup with motorcycle wheels, car-themed clothing and a line of car waxes and polishes.
The company went public in September 1995 at $6.25 a share, and sold a secondary offering in June 1996 at $11.25 a share.
Profitable for all of 1995 and 1996, Boyds ran into trouble early this year after an expensive expansion coincided with an unexpected market slump and left the company long on expenses and short on revenue.
On top of that, an equipment problem in the expanded plant forced the company to scrap tens of thousands of dollars worth of material and delayed deliveries to customers.
Boyds sales, which hit a high of $27.9 million in 1996, plunged to just $7.9 million the first half of this year, and the company posted losses of $1.2 million for the first quarter and $1.4 million for the second. Third-quarter results are due in mid-November.