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Corporate Turnaround Specialist Albert J. Dunlap Dies at 81

Corporate Turnaround Specialist Albert J. Dunlap Dies at 81
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens, files)

By    |   Wednesday, 30 January 2019 08:36 AM

Albert J. Dunlap, who earned the nickname “Chainsaw Al” for eliminating thousands of jobs before getting the ax himself as chief executive of Sunbeam Corp., reportedly died Friday at his home in Ocala, Fla., at the age of 81.

Dunlap’s death was announced by Florida State University, where he was a major donor, The Wall Street Journal reported. FSU said he died after a short illness.

An unabashed proponent of downsizing, the Washington Post explained that Dunlap became known as “Chainsaw Al,” “the Shredder” and “Rambo in Pinstripes,” while his own name entered the corporate lexicon as a verb — “to dunlap” — for turning a wayward company into a highflying success.

In the 1990s, Dunlap ran Sunbeam, whose products included Grillmaster grills, Sunbeam electric blankets and Oster blenders. He published a biography and guide to hard-nosed management, “Mean Business: How I Save Bad Companies and Make Good Companies Great” in 1996.

Two years later, Sunbeam’s board fired Dunlap as chairman and CEO amid an abrupt deterioration in financial results, the Journal reported. Sunbeam filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001.

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Dunlap and other members of his management team with devising illegal accounting maneuvers to mask Sunbeam’s financial troubles, WSJ.com explained. In 2002, Dunlap agreed to be banned permanently from serving as a public-company official and to pay a $500,000 penalty to settle the SEC charges, the Journal explained. He also paid $15 million out of his own pocket as part of the settlement of a shareholder class-action lawsuit against Sunbeam.

The Post said Dunlap denied wrongdoing and insisted that he was nothing less than a corporate doctor, saving “dying” companies that were overburdened by debt.

In recent years, he was a leading Florida philanthropist, donating more than $40 million to Florida State University.

"Dunlap will be remembered for his boisterous enthusiasm, his grand gestures of generosity and his popularity among Florida State student-athletes," FSU said.

“Al Dunlap was undeniably passionate about investing in the potential of future leaders,” said FSU President John Thrasher. 

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Albert J. Dunlap, who earned the nickname “Chainsaw Al” for eliminating thousands of jobs before getting the ax himself as chief executive of Sunbeam Corp., reportedly died Friday at his home in Ocala, Fla., at the age of 81.
corporate, turnaround, specialist, albert j dunlap, dies
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Wednesday, 30 January 2019 08:36 AM
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