Boeing's hard-nosed vice chairman steps down, five years after joining company

Sunday, June 2nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ Harry Stonecipher, The Boeing Co.'s hard-nosed vice chairman, stepped down Saturday, five years after joining the company when it acquired McDonnell Douglas.

Wall Street loved him, the company's unions loathed him and analysts say he'll be sorely missed.

``Even though he has been somewhat of a lightning rod among rank and file for his hard-line business practices, Harry has also helped the company change its way of doing business,'' Peter Jacobs, a former Boeing employee and now an analyst with Seattle-based Ragen MacKenzie, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Stonecipher, 66, will remain on the board at Boeing.

He came to Boeing in the summer of 1997 from defense giant McDonnell Douglas, where he was chief executive.

Stonecipher thought about leaving once the merger was complete, but Boeing Chairman and CEO Phil Condit asked him to stay on. Stonecipher focused more on day-to-day operations and Condit looked to the future.

Stonecipher won praise on Wall Street for making tough business decisions, forcing Boeing to focus on profitability and develop businesses beyond its commercial-aircraft roots.

That's why many Boeing workers in the Puget Sound area, the heart of the company's commercial airplane operations, don't like him.

``We are not sorry to see him go,'' said Bill Dugovich, spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. ``We believe that since he came, The Boeing Co. has been far too focused on short-term profits and stock value, and we are hoping that his exit is a sign of better things to come.''

Condit did not name a successor for Stonecipher. Instead, he expanded the office of the chairman to include Mike Sears, Boeing's chief financial officer; Laurette Koellner, chief people and administration officer; and David Swain, chief of technology.