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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the June 26, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
Exide Technologies — the world’s largest battery
maker — has been struggling since it moved 35 employees from Reading,
Pennsylvania, to the Carnegie Center nearly two years ago. First its board
chairman and CEO, Robert A. Lutz, decamped to return one of the big
three automakers, General Motors. Then, due to the recession, it suffered
a loss in orders for batteries from telecommunications and electric
utility companies. And last month it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
In this same time period three of its former executives — including
two from the Princeton area — were on trial for a fraud scandal
that surfaced in 1998. The scheme involved bribing a Sears Roebuck
buyer to sell batteries that were known to be defective. The former
chief financial officer, Flemington resident Alan E. Gauthier, 54,
pleaded guilty early in the trial. On Thursday, June 20, New Hope
resident Douglas Pearson, 58, was found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy
to commit wire fraud. Gauthier and Pearson could get as much as five
years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000
fine. Sentencing is scheduled for late July.
But apparently the company was also putting on a good corporate face.
In a case of unfortunate public relations timing, earlier this month
the Woodbridge-based Aztec Corporation issued a press release announcing
a prize for its design of Exide’s 24,000 square-foot headquarters
at the Carnegie Center. According to the release, Aztec used "lightwoods
and other light materials to create a fresh, new European corporate
"The open area carpet became a focal point for creating a corporate
image evoking the energy base of the company — a custom carpet
of six-inch, tufted squares in alternating beige tones was designed
with a continuous wave flowing through the entire span of the carpet.
Also incorporated into the corporate headquarters design were dramatic
abstract copper sculptures flanking the reception desk, new windows
in the reception area overlooking a lily pond and Carnegie Center
Park, custom curved wood and glass-enclosed board room equipped with
the latest audio-videoconferencing equipment, and a fully appointed
executive pantry. In addition, a suite of executive offices was created
in the interior space allotting each executive their own private office
space and executive restroom."
Last week the bankruptcy court approved a $700,000 base salary and
as much in bonuses for Craig Muhlhauser, who has assumed the duties
of CEO and chairman. The company has $2.5 billion in debt, compared
to assets of $2 billion.
08540. Craig Muhlhauser, president and COO. 609-627-7200. Home
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