Polymer Group, Inc. has named William Hewitt interim CEO replacing James Schaeffer. PGI’s board asked Mr. Schaeffer to submit his resignation from the nonwovens producer following an investigation of how information was reported internally during the preparation of financial statements related to certain transactions that included a €4 million agreement with an equipment supplier.
Mr. Hewitt has been chairman of the board of directors of the company since April 2003 and a director since March 2003. PGI will launch a search for a permanent replacement, and while no timeframe has been specified, Mr. Hewitt said similar processes often last three to four months.
Mr. Hewitt has been involved with many segments of PGI's business, according to Dennis Norman, director of strategic planning and communication. “He has also spent a period of time as a paid consultant for the company related to our global approach to our business," he said. "Bill knows the ins and outs of PGI very well and we have the utmost confidence in his ability.”
Mr. Schaeffer’s resignation stems from a previously announced internal investigation into certain transactions between the company and an equipment supplier. In particular, the investigation, for which PGI enlisted the help of special counsel, focused on uncertainties surrounding the events that led to a €4 million agreement between PGI and the equipment supplier and a potential relationship with other transactions with that equipment supplier. Pursuant to the investigation, PGI’s board—citing lack of confidence in Mr. Schaeffer’s abilities to remain CEO of PGI—asked for the resignation of Mr. Schaeffer as well as that of James Snyder, vice president of global purchasing, whose activities were also within the scope of the investigation.
Mr. Hewitt said he doesn’t expect PGI’s on-going day-to-day activities to be disrupted by Mr. Schaeffer’s exit. “We have been in discussions with people around the globe starting last night and all the reports are that people are sad (about Jim) but they understand that we will move forward,” he said. “Nothing really has changed apart from the people. The strategy we had eight weeks ago is the same strategy we have today. We have a very strong management team. We have a strategy of delivering the right product at the right location at the right price. Our vision is to be the industry leader and we will get everyone refocused fairly quickly.”