Harris Will Cut 150 Jobs; Shakes Up Broadcast Division

Saying it needs to cut costs in radio and TV transmission, Harris is eliminating about 150 positions from its facilities in Quincy, Ill., and Mason, Ohio.
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Saying it needs to cut costs in radio and TV transmission, Harris is eliminating about 150 positions from its facilities in Quincy, Ill., and Mason, Ohio.

President Tim Thorsteinson told reporters in a New York pre NAB gathering a week ago that the division has too much manufacturing capacity. He said Harris business overall is strong but TV transmitter sales have been "very, very, very, very, very, very, very soft. People have been delaying their purchases. I've seen a lot of things but I've never seen a business drop off like this."

More details have now emerged of the changes, which were implemented this week.

Thorsteinson was brought to the Broadcast Division last year in part because of his reputation as a turnaround manager. Writing in a letter to colleagues, he said the Harris radio and TV transmission businesses will now be combined into a "new focused, more agile organization."

Dale Mowry, VP/GM of the TV transmission business, is among those leaving; he was with the division for eight years.

Deb Huttenberg, VP/GM of radio transmission, will now be responsible for Harris radio sales, the radio systems and console business and the radio resale broadcast center. Reporting to her will be the heads of North American radio sales, resale, consoles and the Harris Broadcast Center. Huttenberg will also act as the interface point for international transmission sales.

Among other names familiar to radio customers, Geoff Mendenhall, Lyle Sprinkle and Rich Redmond are remaining with the company.

Phil Argyris, VP of human resources, was named to direct a "transition team" which, Thorsteinson wrote, "has been tasked with forming the new transmission organization." Thorsteinson said he's charging the staff with returning the business to 10% operating income growth and developing a leaner supply chain model, among other goals. He said the transmission business remains an important component of the overall profitability of Harris BCD.

According to his letter, employees also were told that Harris will close its operation in Rankweil, Austria, by the end of June.

Florida Today newspaper reported earlier that severance and facility exits in these moves will cost about $5 million in coming months, while saving Harris about $10 million in the next fiscal year.

Another Harris official, Brian Cabeceiras, VP of strategic marketing & technology, told reporters at the recent meeting that the "core broadcast market is still a very strong business. New media companies aren't going to drive old ones away." Legacy media, he said, "will be the leaders in the new world order."

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