Turmoil at WestPoint Stevens: Veteran Dale in; Meek out

Marvin Lazaro, April 16, 2001

WEST POINT, GA — WestPoint Stevens Inc.'s continuing high-stakes game of executive musical chairs has led to the hiring of one key executive, the departure of another and a general financial roller-coaster ride for the company.

Less than a month after being dismissed from his post at Thomaston Mills Inc., home textiles industry veteran Bob Dale has landed a position with WestPoint Stevens but cfo/executive vp, finance David Meek has left the company to pursue interests in the private sector.

The hiring of Murray 'Chip' Fontenot as president/coo late last year and the subsequent addition of the popular Dale just may have put WestPoint on the right track to stability, but Meek's exit just as rapidly derailed the proverbial train and led to tumbling prices for WPS stock last Thursday, April 12.

The hiring of Dale as senior vp, sales and marketing, has prompted some shuffling of the mill's New York management team. Joan Amberg, formerly senior vp/president, domestic sales, has been repositioned as senior vp, merchandising, while William Walker, who held the title of senior vp, operations and planning, has been made senior vp, sourcing.

Throughout his tenure in the industry, Dale has earned a reputation as a team player and builder and no doubt brings an extensive breadth of sales and marketing experience to WPS as well as a measure of stability to a sales force that has been rocked over the last 15 months by the dismissals of former marketing chiefs Bob Gehm and Jack Toolan as well as former president Tom Ward.

"This strengthening of our senior management team is a key step in the implementation of our eight-point plan," said Fontenot. "We are very fortunate to identify and recruit talented management and to match specific specialties with individuals who have shown a real mastery of these areas."

Dale's responsibilities will include directing the overall sales efforts of the company, while Amberg will oversee WPS' efforts to bring product features more in line with consumer requests as well as facilitating communication between the merchandising and sales arms. Walker will work to lower sourcing costs, improve strategic planning and enhance WestPoint Stevens' product flexibility.

Dale and Amberg will work from the New York office, while Walker will be re-located to the company's Clemson, SC, office.

"We're elated about the addition of Mr. Dale's talent to mesh with our own seasoned professionals," said Fontenot. "Each of these individuals brings an enviable track record to this new opportunity. With the strong team dynamics from this group, WestPoint Stevens is positioned to move ahead with a forceful new thrust."

In addition to working for Thomaston, Dale has also been employed by Glenoit Mills and Fieldcrest Cannon.

Dale, Amberg and Walker will report directly to Fontenot in their new positions.

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