Gottwalds back in the driver’s seat at Tredegar

Tredegar Corp.'s headquarters at 1100 Boulders Pkwy. (Photo courtesy of Commonwealth Commercial Partners)

Tredegar Corp.’s headquarters at 1100 Boulders Parkway. (Photo courtesy of Commonwealth Commercial Partners)

With the abrupt departure last week of two top executives, a prominent Richmond family has grabbed a firmer hold on the direction of a local publicly traded company.

Tredegar Corp. announced on Friday that President and CEO Nancy Taylor and CFO Kevin O’Leary had stepped down from their positions effective immediately.

The shift is the latest step in a show of control by members of the Gottwald family that was first publicly exerted in 2013.

Taking back his CEO chair at the company for the third time, at least temporarily, is John Gottwald, who served as Tredegar’s chief executive from 1989 to 2001 and again from 2006 to 2010. His older brother, Bill Gottwald, took over as chairman of Tredegar’s board of directors on June 4.

The brothers, along with their father Floyd Gottwald, together control nearly a quarter of the company’s outstanding common stock with 7.53 million shares between them.

They are the company’s largest shareholders and used that leverage in 2013 to state publicly their desire to see the company pursue “strategic alternatives,” which is typically big business code for a potential sale or spin-off.

The company bowed by allowing changes in the size, makeup and internal workings of the board of directors in the Gottwalds’ favor.

While the company had cordial parting words for both Taylor and O’Leary in a release on Friday, Tredegar VP and General Counsel Brent King declined to comment further on the nature of their departure.

“The company overall has made a lot of investments globally over the last few years. The board is fully aligned around the plan to focus the leadership team on maximizing the opportunities we have from those investments,” King said, referring to the company’s recent investments in its Brazilian and Asian operations. “We believe that will drive value for our stakeholders.”

The Gottwalds now steer an industrial firm that produced sales of $950 million last year by manufacturing plastic films used in consumer products such as diapers and food packaging, as well as aluminum materials used in construction, automotive and other industries.

It operates facilities in the U.S., the Netherlands, Hungary, China, Brazil and India and has 2,700 employees.

Its sales in the first quarter of 2015 were $234.17 million, down slightly from $235.2 million in the same period last year. Net income for the first quarter was $9.87 million, an improvement from last year’s $8.47 million.

Taylor’s exit brings an end to her five-year run at Tredegar’s helm. The 55-year-old had been with the company for 23 years. She was the only female CEO among Richmond’s public companies.

O’Leary had been CFO since 2009.

The company had not yet made any filings with the SEC to indicate what sort of severance packages Taylor and O’Leary might receive based on the nature of their departure.

According to the company’s most recent proxy filing earlier this year, Taylor owned 467,000 shares of Tredegar stock, or about 1.4 percent of the company’s total outstanding shares. O’Leary owned about 100,000 shares.

The stock, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TG, closed Friday at $22.82 per share, down 1.47 percent.

Taylor earned a compensation package in 2014 totaling $2.09 million, made up of a $660,000 base salary, along with stock and option awards, cash incentives and other perks.

O’Leary received total compensation of $761,000 in 2014, filings show.

The company said Taylor also resigned her position from Tredegar’s board of directors. She is also a member of the board of directors of Lumber Liquidators, a Toano-based firm that has seen its share of upheaval in recent months.

The Gottwalds could not be reached for comment.

The company said John Gottwald will serve as president and CEO on an interim basis while it conducts a search for a more permanent replacement.

The changing of the guard also brings back Drew Edwards as CFO, a role he held from 2003 to 2009.

Tredegar is headquartered at 1100 Boulders Parkway in the Boulders office park development on the Southside.

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