PITTSBURGH—Fenner P.L.C.'s restructuring efforts within its global conveyor belting business are being expanded to include the Americas region, where cutbacks are being pondered.
The why is simple. The company's sales and earnings are down, its Engineered Conveyor Solutions conveyor belt division is suffering, and the coal mining industry has not bounced back from a tailspin that dates to 2012.
What and when aren't as clear.
But it is likely changes within the firm's Fenner Dunlop operation in North and South America are coming, Fenner CEO Nicholas Hobson indicated in two conference calls.
Some cuts already have occurred, a spokesman said, but he did not say how many or where they were made.
The biggest change, as far as the company's Pittsburgh-headquartered Fenner Dunlop Americas business is concerned, came in early October with the departure of Cassandra Pan, who served as president of the North American operation and head of the Engineered Conveyor Solutions Americas regional unit, which oversees conveyor belt operations throughout the region.
Pan took early retirement on Oct. 5. She had been president of Fenner Dunlop Americas since 2009, and prior to that she was managing director of the company's business in China for 101/2 years.
“She had plans to retire and decided to accelerate the process,” said Scott Frenz, vice president of marketing for Fenner Dunlop Americas.
In a later interview, Pan said it was her decision to retire after 17 years with the firm. “It's been an amazing experience for me. I worked hard and gave it all I had. But the markets have changed so dramatically. It's a terrible market for the coal industry.”
She said she intends to spend more time with her family in Asia and Italy.
Her decision came at the same time the company began making significant changes at the top of its global ECS belting division, creating a tighter management unit.
Previously, Pan headed Engineered Conveyor Systems-Americas, Edwin Have ran ECS-EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), and Graham Lenz was head of ECS-APAC (Australia, New Zealand, China and Southeast Asia). They reported to David Landgren, who was responsible for the entire belting division.
Under the new restructuring, top management responsibilities are split between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere/Asia-Pacific.
Have takes over for Pan with added responsibilities. He now is executive director of the Northern Hemisphere, comprised of the Americas, Europe, Africa/Middle East and India.
Landgren was named executive director of the Southern Hemisphere/Asia-Pacific, including Australia, China and South Africa. Lenz will continue as managing director of Australia/APAC, Frenz said.
Landgren and Have report to Hobson. They will continue to serve as members of the Fenner executive committee.
The alignment of business operations for Fenner ECS primarily is due to geography and clustering of customer types, Frenz said. He said a significant number of mining companies have their largest operations in the Southern Hemisphere. While those same firms have some big mines in the Northern Hemisphere, “the business in Europe and the Americas is much more diverse.”
A large number of industrial bulk materials operations—including those for aggregates, cement, grain, power generation and ports—are more common in the Northern Hemisphere, according to Frenz.