Spectrum Brands' home is back in Madison and a new chief executive is steering the company.
Six years after the former Rayovac Corp. moved its headquarters to Atlanta, added home and garden products, bolstered its pet supplies division and changed its name, the company is based here again.
"My belief is that the heart and soul of this company is the 100-plus-year base of Rayovac batteries and that's in Madison, Wisconsin," said Dave Lumley, who took over as CEO on Thursday. "Effective today, Madison, Wisconsin, is headquarters of Spectrum Brands worldwide."
He made the announcement at 9 a.m. to employees in the company cafeteria at 601 Rayovac Drive.
"Obviously, we're very, very pleased," said Rachel Strauch-Nelson, spokesperson for Mayor Dave Ciesleweicz, who is traveling in Europe this week. "There will be a number of people coming to Wisconsin to work in the corporate headquarters and the potential for job creation. We'll offer them any help we can in their move back here."
Spectrum Brands has 23 employees in Atlanta. They will move out of their high-rise Atlanta offices "within weeks," Lumley said, and will occupy empty space at a sales and marketing center in suburban Alphretta, Ga. At least half of them will likely move to Madison in the coming months, he said.
Lumley, 55, has headed the Madison-based global batteries and personal care division - featuring the Rayovac and Remington brands - since 2006. Home and garden division headquarters came to Madison in 2008.
Lumley succeeds Kent Hussey, 63, who is retiring after 14 years with Spectrum Brands, the last three as CEO. Hussey had signed a three-year contract for that job last October. Instead, he will remain as chairman of the board until the proposed merger with small-appliance company Russell Hobbs is approved by regulators, and then will act as consultant for the merger for three years.
Hussey led Spectrum Brands out of several years of financial turmoil that included debt that rose to $2.6 billion. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in early 2009 and emerged last August owing $840 million less.
Results from the quarter that ended Jan. 3 showed a net loss of $60.2 million, or nearly half the net loss of the year-ago quarter, and with revenues of $592 million, up from $549 million, led by higher sales of Rayovac batteries in North America and Remington grooming products in Europe. Excluding one-time charges, Hussey said Spectrum Brands earned 16 cents a share for the quarter.
"While it is difficult to leave such a tremendous company with a team of incredibly dedicated, hard-working and creative people, I am pleased with all that we have accomplished," Hussey said in a statement. He was not available to talk to reporters Thursday.
Lumley said Spectrum Brands has added about 100 jobs in Wisconsin during the past year and is hiring another 30 people throughout the state. Currently, the company has 413 employees in the Madison area, five at a new DeForest center for Remington returns and repairs; 185 at the Portage hearing aid battery plant; 276 at the Fennimore alkaline battery plant; and a total of 5,700 worldwide.
"Our plants are running 24/7 right now, which is very good news in this economy," Lumley said.
He said he does not plan to try again to sell either the home and garden division or the pet products division, both of which Spectrum Brands tried to divest in the past several years. He said the company may look for more acquisitions, after the Russell Hobbs merger is completed.
"We have four businesses: batteries, personal appliances, pet (supplies) and home and garden. We like them all and our new owners like them all. our goal is to grow them organically and through selected acquisitions," Lumley said.
Harbinger Capital Partners, a New York hedge fund, owns more than 12 million shares, or 40 percent of Spectrum Brands, and 100 percent of Russell Hobbs stock.
"They've been a big supporter of the company," Lumley said. "They believed in us when no one else did."
Lumley said he is optimistic about the future. "This is really quite a day for Spectrum Brands and, I think, for Madison, Wis. We're a big company that had an ambitious plan that didn't go well. (We) survived it, and now we're in a really good position," he said.