In Philadelphia, the face of heavy industry is now female.
Ellen Kullman, named DuPont Co.'s next chief executive officer yesterday, joins Sunoco Inc.'s new CEO, Lynn Laverty Elsenhans, in the top rank of American captains of industry. That's real industry - manufacturing.
Philadelphia's male CEOs spend their days finding new ways to sell mutual funds, cable TV, loans, therapies and food service.
But the native industries, DuPont and Sunoco, which between them employ armies of engineers, techs and contractors to make gasoline, Kevlar, titanium oxide, blight-resistant crops, and other useful physical products, will now be run by women who worked their way up through the ranks, in fields where most science and engineering graduates and business-school graduates are male.
"You need experience and driving ambition to take a company as large and
complex and international as DuPont in a new direction," said Elva Bankins, senior partner at Kelleher Associates in Wayne and president of Philadelphia's Forum of Executive Women
"These are old-economy companies. It's taken us by surprise," said Sally Stetson, partner in Salveson Stetson Group, an executive-search firm. "But there again, these are process-oriented, data-driven, analytical companies. They tend to think logically. If someone is proving themselves, they'll be gender-blind.
Deborah Fretz, chief executive of Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., has been an active role model for younger women, and the promotions of Kullman and Elsenhans expand the set, Stetson added.
"I hope it encourages younger women to go into the sciences, go into the M.B.A. programs, take that stretch assignment, get more line experience and P&L [management] experience, so more women will get into these roles, and it won't be a shock to us again."
What does Unisys CEO Joseph W. McGrath's planned departure mean to his plan to move Unisys headquarters and 200-plus workers from Blue Bell to Center City's Liberty Place?
It's still an option, says Unisys spokesman Tim Kerr. Unisys plans to pick McGrath's replacement before the end of the year.
Developer Mitchell L. Morgan's firm, Morgan Properties, of King of Prussia, says it ranks among the largest U.S. apartment owners.
The founder has clout to match, having hosted President Bush and GOP presidential nominee John McCain for campaign fund-raising events at his Bryn Mawr home.
His company made the National Multi-Housing Council's biggest-owners list, after its acquisition of 86 apartment buildings, most in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area. The purchases last year were from Kushner Cos. after former Kushner chairman Charles Kushner went to prison on tax-fraud and other charges.
Morgan didn't grow all alone. Its equity partner in the former Kushner properties is American International Group Inc., which now plans to downsize its $26 billion real estate portfolio to repay loans from its new controlling owner, the federal government.
CEO Edward Liddy hopes to say which assets will get sold by sometime next week, said AIG spokesman Joe Norton. Affected real estate partners will be making some new arrangements.
The AIG-funded ex-Kushner properties account for more than half of Morgan's 32,000 apartments. Morgan officials didn't return messages yesterday seeking comment.
Private-equity investors gathered in Philadelphia last week for a two-day meeting of the Association for Corporate Growth, under the cloud of the financial crisis.
The firms still have money, thanks to the pension funds and other big investors who financed them in recent years. But it has gotten tougher to borrow from banks, and PEs don't like doing deals all alone, reports Thomas Bonney, managing director at accounting consultants CMF Associates, of Philadelphia, whose staff helped host the gathering.
With fewer deals, PE people are trying to cut costs at companies they already own. But not in the finance office: PEs are "upgrading" controllers and CFOs at companies they own, the better to control other spending, Bonney said. And, he added, investors are looking to China, which doesn't seem directly affected by the U.S. slowdown.