Leganza to retire as CEO, chairman, president of Eastern Co.

NAUGATUCK — Leonard F. Leganza will retire from his positions as board chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Eastern Co., the manufacturer announced Monday.

The Eastern Co. is a 157-year-old maker of industrial hardware, security products and metal castings.

In the news release announcing the move, the company said Leganza’s retirement will become effective when the term of his employment agreement expires Dec. 31, but he will remain a member of the board of directors until his term as a director expires at the company’s 2017 annual meeting of shareholders.

Leganza, 85, has been the company’s president and chief executive officer since April 1997 and board chairman since December 2006. He has also served as a director of the company from 1980 through the present, the company stated.

Leganza is a certified public accountant who practiced with the firm Ernst & Ernst — now Ernst & Young — for several years. He also served as a director, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Clarksville, Ga.-based Scovill Fasteners Inc. for 20 years.

“It has been a privilege to lead Eastern and work with its dedicated employees,” Leganza said in a statement. “However, after more than 35 years with the company, including 18 years as its CEO, it is time for a new generation of leadership.”

Eastern’s board of directors has appointed James A. Mitarotonda to serve as board chairman and August (Gus) Vlak to serve as president and chief executive officer, effective Jan. 1.

Mitarotonda, 61, is the chairman, president and chief executive officer of New York-based activist hedge fund Barington Capital Group L.P. He also serves as a director of A. Schulman, Inc., OMNOVA Solutions Inc., The Pep Boys: Manny, Moe & Jack and Barington/Hilco Acquisition Corp., Eastern said. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from New York University’s Graduate School of Business Administration, now known as the Stern School of Business, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Queens College, where he serves as a member of the board of trustees.

“On behalf of the entire board, we would like to thank Len for his many years of dedicated service to Eastern,” Mitarotonda said in a statement. “Among other things, Len has helped bring stability and a disciplined culture of cost control to the company.”

Mitarotonda and Michael A. McManus Jr., a Barington adviser and president and CEO of medical device maker Misonix Inc., gained seats on Eastern’s board in May after a vote at the company’s annual shareholders meeting following a proxy battle. Barington owns 5.2 percent of Eastern’s shares.

Vlak, 49, has been a management consultant and, most recently, a senior adviser to Barington. He was previously a partner at Katzenbach Partners, a senior adviser at Booz & Co., a consultant at McKinsey & Co. and an investment banker at Lehman Brothers. His consulting work focused on growth strategy and operational performance improvement at more than 50 companies, Eastern said. He received a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University and a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Amherst College.

The Eastern Co. operates from 13 locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Taiwan and China.

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