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Is that a crack forming in the fabled glass ceiling? Well, maybe not yet. But with the recent appointment of Lloyd Ward as president and COO of Maytag Corp., one of the largest appliance manufacturers in the U.S., perhaps now it’s only a matter of time.
Ward, 49, becomes the heir apparent at Newton, Iowa-based Maytag as CEO Leonard Hadley is expected to retire when he turns 65 on July 4, 1999. Selected as BE’s Executive of the Year in 1995, when he was Frito-Lay’s Central Division president, Ward joined Maytag in 1996 as executive vice president and head of major appliance division. In just two years he has positioned himself to join an exclusive group, which includes the likes of American Express President and COO Kenneth Chenault and Time Warner President Richard Parsons–African American executives within reach of the CEO chair at Fortune 500 concerns.
Industry analysts cite Ward’s key role in the development of Maytag’s Performa brand appliances. Its success opened up previously untapped markets for Maytag. Also cited are Ward’s help in bringing its Neptune front loading, horizontal-axis washing machine to the market. Ward will now oversee Maytag’s four appliance divisions: Maytag Appliances, Maytag International, the Hoover Co. and Dixie-Narco. Maytag Corp. posted revenues of $3.4 billion last year and was listed as No. 452 on the 1997 Fortune 500 roster.
“Maytag was attractive to me because of its great brands and the fantastic business opportunity it presented,” says Ward. “Here I have a chance to lead a number of America’s great brands into the next millennium.”
Crossing the COO barrier has been a difficult obstacle for African American executives to hurdle.
Chenault, whose COO appointment at American Express came early last year after 16 years with the company, says his friend Ward has clearly earned his success. “Lloyd is a hardcharging executive who has had a powerful impact on his company and has brought about substantial change in a short period of time.”
Yet Ward will have his work cut out for him in moving Maytag forward. According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, average sales figures have been about $3 billion over the last five years. And the Big Five in the industry scrap for every dollar. Maytag is the third-largest major appliance manufacturer behind Whirlpool and GE, with Frigidaire and Amana rounding out the top five. Together these companies make everything in the home from washing machines to microwave ovens.
“Plain and simple, Ward is a good leader,” says Tom Schwartz, a Maytag spokesman. “His mission now is to deliver operating results for the corporation.”