Polymer Group, Inc. has named Veronica Hagen chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors, effective April 23, 2007. Ms. Hagen brings over 25 years of extensive operations and global industrial market experience with large, international public companies to PGI, a leading engineered materials supplier with more than $1 billion in sales. Since 2004, Hagen has held the position of president and chief executive officer of Sappi Fine Paper North America, a $1.4 billion division of the South African-based global leader in the pulp and paper industry, Sappi Limited. At Sappi, she achieved year-over-year improvement in cash flow and profitability with a strong focus on safety, productivity and working capital management while also fostering growth by providing added value to customers.
“As the nominating committee began its search six months ago for a new CEO, our primary goal was to identify candidates with a high level of stature and leadership. Flowing from that criterion was the desire for someone with a record of success, strong industrial experience in a global marketplace and a strong focus on the customer,” said William B. Hewitt, PGI’s chairman and interim chief executive officer.
“Ronee Hagen meets all of those qualifications and joins PGI with an outstanding record of performance and expertise in capital-intensive industrial markets. She has demonstrated the ability to grow profitability in some very tough businesses, and has done so with a customer-centric focus. We are confident these characteristics make her the perfect person to lead PGI into its next phase of growth, profitability and success,” Hewitt said.
Prior to working for Sappi, Hagen served in various executive roles with Alcoa Inc., the world's leading aluminum producer, where she was the first woman to serve as a business unit president and won numerous global business awards for her performance. During her tenure at Alcoa, she held various executive level positions with responsibilities ranging from full profit and loss accountability for a $2 billion division with 21 plants, to chief customer officer charged with furthering a customer-centric culture. She also served as an executive vice president at Alumax, Inc., before it was acquired by Alcoa. Hagen began her career as an entrepreneur starting her own business in the metals industry, which she grew and sold before joining Alumax. She currently serves on the board of directors for Newmont Mining Corp. and previously for Jacuzzi Brands, Inc., formerly traded on the NYSE.
“I am pleased to be joining a company with as much potential for growth as PGI,” said Ms. Hagen. “PGI has established itself as an industry leader and I look forward to leading the company in its pursuit of higher levels of growth and profitability. I believe a critical component of the company’s success will be its continued commitment to its customers and innovation. My goal will be to achieve significant growth by focusing on collaborative relationships to develop a successful value chain that will provide customers with what they need to succeed.”
Ms. Hagen holds a Bachelor of Science in International Relations from the University of Southern California and has participated in an Executive Education program in Finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and an Executive Leadership program at Harvard University. She will be relocating from Boston, Mass. to the Charlotte, N.C. area, the site of PGI’s global headquarters.
Mr. Hewitt will remain chairman of the board of directors of PGI and continue to serve the company in an advisory capacity to aid in the transition to Hagen as CEO. He has served as interim CEO since September 2006.