SEMICON CREDO: YOU MUST ACT LIKE A WINNER IF YOU'RE GOING TO BREAK A LOSING STREAK
HIGH TECH BY DANA BOTTORFF
Semicon Inc. of Burlington, Mass., had always been a comfortable, thriving company. Co-founded in 1961 by two life-long partners, it grew at a healthy rate to $40 million in the discrete semiconductor business. In the past 18 months, however, Semicon has fallen on turbulent times, its founders now gone and its markets in shambles.
But a new CEO has shaken things up and put a new gloss on the company. "The board gave me permission to be outrageous," explained Harold W. Mahar Jr.
His first outrageous act, in fact, was to convince those same board members not to forgo their $500 fees for attending board meetings.
Semicon hadn't reported profits for nine consecutive quarters, had lost more than half of its workforce, had seen about 60% of its business evaporate in 12 months, and was the object of an apparently hostile takeover bid. Conditions had forced tghe divestiture of two business subsidiaries and the bankruptcy of a third. Only one subsidiary remained, and it wasn't doing as well. The board members thought the least they could do was help out by waiving their fees.
In response, Mahar said one thing had to be understood if he was to accept the board's offer of the CEO position at Semicon. "I told them that if we were going to make it, we were going to make it being a business, not being an organization to …