Cary B. Wood, president and CEO, Sparton Corp.

Turnaround –Finalist

Cary Wood had been tackling management challenges for more than 20 years when the board of directors of Sparton Corp. asked him to turn around the 109-year-old manufacturing company, which was only a few months away from bankruptcy. While that alone was a massive challenge, adding to the situation was the recent recession, which hit the manufacturing industry hard.

Wood, president and CEO, immediately took action and hired a management team composed of executives he had worked with on other challenges. Serious cost-saving moves were made, including reductions in the workforce, closing of facilities and customer disengagement.

With a set of new corporate values and a turnaround strategy that featured instilling an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the company, Wood had the tools to go to work. Six key principles were adopted: safety, cost, quality, delivery, people and growth. Within eight months, financial and operational turnaround efforts were completed. Managers were empowered to make decisions as if Sparton were their own private company — and were accountable for them. The entrepreneurial spirit also inspired employees to break through bureaucratic red tape to find time- and cost-saving measures.

A five-year strategic plan was instituted in 2010 to identify and pursue growth opportunities and operational efficiencies. Activities to develop business were reinitiated and supported by a new management team. New branding and marketing were also added. Research and development efforts were begun for the first time in the company’s history. New products were launched in 2011 as a result.

In addition, within the first 18 months of the turnaround, two acquisitions were made to round out the company through geographical expansion, customer diversification, value- added capabilities and entrance into tangential markets.

How to reach: Sparton Corp.,