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'We've laid a good foundation,' new Harsco CEO says

By - Last modified: September 14, 2012 at 8:59 AM

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Patrick Decker. Photo/Submitted
Patrick Decker. Photo/Submitted

Cumberland County-based Harsco Corp. introduced Patrick Decker, its newest president and CEO, to investors Thursday in a conference call in which he reaffirmed his commitment to the restructuring strategy already in place yet also said many options are on the table for the industrial services company to improve in the future.

Harsco announced in July that Decker, a former Tyco International Ltd. executive, would succeed interim Chairman and CEO Henry Knueppel, who had served in that position since Salvatore D. Fazzolari resigned as president, CEO and chairman in February.

"I'm in complete alignment with the strategy that Henry and the board have put in place," Decker said.

The changes come amid Harsco's internal restructuring to shore up some of its key business units, including the Harsco Infrastructure group. The business unit that provides scaffolding, concrete forming equipment and engineering services for large-scale infrastructure projects around the world was hit hard in the global recession with the downturn in construction markets.

Since 2009, Wormleysburg-based Harsco has been streamlining and restructuring its business to save more than $100 million.

"We've laid a good foundation," Decker said.

He said his role now is to continue executing those cost-saving measures, get the company selling to its existing markets again, win new customers and grow its emerging markets. That will require focusing the business on its core products and services, total alignment of its leaders and business units and execution with accountability, he said.

"I've come here mainly to continue the strategy that's been implemented," Decker said.

However, righting Harsco's ship will require looking at all parts, he said, because if there isn't value in a line of business, the company might have to look at whether it should be in that particular market.

He shied away from saying any particular business group, product or service could be sold off in the immediate future. It wasn't out of the question, but it also wasn't his intention, he said.

"There are still a lot of opportunities and synergies for us to take care of," Knueppel said during the call.

That includes finding better ways to sell more in the infrastructure business, he said. The company needs to dive deeper into that business.

"We probably got too focused on restructuring and lost a little sales there," Knueppel said.

Since Decker has been on the job at Harsco only since Monday, there were few specifics he could offer on future direction. Most of the months to come will be spent meeting with the company's business units to get a more complete picture of Harsco's challenges, he said.

In time, Decker said, he will announce more specific metrics and goals for shareholders to gauge Harsco's successes.

But right now, "I'm not comfortable putting markers out there," he said.

Harsco – a company with $3.3 billion in 2011 revenue – provides products and services to the metals manufacturing, mineral production, railway maintenance, energy and non-residential construction markets. The company trades its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HSC.

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jimr@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JimTRyanCPBJ.

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