Management Turnover as Change Agent

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Long-time Chairman and CEO of Applied Signal Technology Resigns

Last Thursday Applied Signal Technology APSG (NASDAQ) announced that its long time CEO and chairman, Gary Yancey, had resigned and will be leaving the company effective May 30, 2008. He will also be leaving the company board. Yancy co-founded the company. He has served as the chairman and CEO since 1984. The company has chosen William Van Vleet III, the chief operating officer to serve as interim CEO until a permanent successor is chosen. The company also named John Devine, a company director since 1995, non-executive director effective May 1. According to the company's SEC 8k filing,
Mr. Van Vleet joined the Company in July 2005 as Executive Vice President of the Sensor Signal Processing Group in connection with the Company's acquisition of Dynamics Technology, Inc. and was promoted to Deputy Chief Operating Officer in August 2006 and Chief Operating Officer in November 2007. Mr. Van Vleet was President and Chief Executive Officer of Dynamics Technology, Inc. from 2002 to July 2005. Prior to that time, Mr. Van Vleet worked at The Boeing Company for 22 years, where he served in a variety of engineering management positions, most recently as the General Manager of the Communications, Information, and Oceanic Systems Division, and then leading efforts on the U.S. Missile Defense National Team as the Director of Battle Management, C2 and Communications.
Often a sudden change at the top with no apparent successor to step in is viewed negatively. The change at Applied Signal, however, was a well overdue change and so far has been viewed kindly by the Street. The company provides advanced digital signal processing products, systems and services in support of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for global security. It is time for new energy at the top of the firm. Keep a close eye on the moves the company takes over the next few months and who specifically they pick to succeed Yancy. The real question is whether they can bring in someone with the expertise to take the company to the next step.

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