Management Turnover as Change Agent

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Smart Grid Related Firm, Itron Inc, Promotes New CEO

Itron, Inc. ITRI (NASDAQ), a global supplier of wireless data acquisition and communication products for electric, gas and water utilities yesterday announced reduced guidance for the first quarter and all of 2009.  The company also named a neLeRoy Nosbaumw CEO, Malcolm Unsworth the firm’s current president and chief operating officer.  Unsworth will replace LeRoy Nosbaum as CEO on March 31, 2009.  Nosbaum will remain executive chairman of the firm until the end of 2009.  The executive change at Itron comes at key time for the firm.  Itron is at the forefront of smart metering, a key issue the new Obama administration is expected to push for Malcolm Unsworthas it focuses on the improving the nation’s electric grid.  While Itron has an opportunity to take advantage of these potential changes, the firm along with some of its key competitors have found themselves facing a new competitor that could shake their foundation - Google.  Google recently announced it was looking to involve itself in the smart metering business.    According to a story by Katie Fehrenbacher in an earth2tech story referring to Google’s entry into the smart metering business,

… Google’s entrance into the space does raise a lot of questions for these firms. First off, will Google be a competitor or a partner?  

 … Perhaps a bigger question than whether Google is friend or foe is, who owns the relationship with the customer?  

… Beyond the issue of customer loyalty, Google’s entrance into smart meter software brings in a heavy-hitter for companies that are looking for Internet Protocol to be the basis of the next-generation smart grid. While some companies are hoping IP will be the dominant standard, many older companies have built networks and technologies on different standards, and even proprietary standards. Incumbent smart meter companies like Itron, Landis+Gyr, Elster and Aclara (part of ESCO Technologies) have already expressed concern over language in the stimulus bill that emphasizes Internet protocol for the smart grid.

Itron’s selection of Unsworth as the new CEO, an insider knowledgeable about the company, the industry anOne Year Stock Performance of Itron, Inc.d the vicissitudes of the industry was a well thought out decision.  The company’s board seems to be doing its job.  While Itron appears to be facing stiff competition from traditional competitors and now possibly Google, the company continues to have great potential.  Unsworth has shown himself to be a very capable executive who has the ability to stand up for the firm and make the right decisions in a difficult market.  Keep a close eye on the business decisions and possible changes Unsworth makes as he takes over management of the firm at the end of March.   For more:  Itron Press Release  RTT News   

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