Itron CFO Mark Schmitz leaves post abruptly

  • Signs for push-out forces
  • After almost three years on the job
  • Laud, praise, thanks and good wishes for Schmitz
  • Rob Farrow taking over in the interim
  • Search for a successor

(exechange) — Liberty Lake, Washington, March 28, 2017 — Mark Schmitz, finance chief of Itron, leaves the position. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Itron, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, W. Mark Schmitz leaves the post as chief financial officer at the provider of metering solutions to electricity, gas, and water utility markets in a surprising move after almost three years on the job, effective immediately.

No company wants a CFO to flame out in the first years.

Schmitz’ move comes six months after Lynda L. Ziegler took over as chairman of Itron.

Schmitz will remain available for one month to ensure a smooth transition during the first quarter accounting close.

Itron will undertake a search for a successor.

Schmitz’ duties are taken over in the interim by Rob Farrow, most recently vice president, strategic planning and treasury at Itron, Inc.

“Achieving our next phase of growth”

A reason for the sudden change was not explicitly given. Philip Mezey, Itron’s president and chief executive officer, said: “As Itron continues its business transformation, we are seeking an executive finance leader who builds upon Itron’s strong financial foundation as we develop a nimble finance organization focused on enabling our corporate strategy and achieving our next phase of growth.”

Precise information about the future plans of Schmitz was not immediately available.

“Stepping down”

Itron said: “Mark Schmitz, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) since September 2014, will be stepping down from the position, effective immediately.”

Share price rise since January 2016

The change follows a rise in the share price of Itron, Inc. since January 2016.

Scopia holds 11.91 percent stake

Scopia Capital Management LP reported an 11.91 percent stake in Itron, Inc. as of December 31, 2016. Scopia is a hedge fund.

Chaired by Lynda L. Ziegler

Itron, Inc. is chaired by Lynda L. Ziegler.

Lynda L. Ziegler (age 64) has been a director since 2013 and was elected Chair of the Board on September 14, 2016 after having served as Vice Chairman of the Board since 2015.

CEO: Philip Mezey

Philip C. Mezey serves as CEO of Itron, Inc. Mezey (age 56) has been a director since 2013.  He was president and chief operating officer for Itron’s Energy segment from March 2011 until December 31, 2012.  Effective January 1, 2013, he was elected Itron’s president and chief executive officer.

On the job as CFO since 2014

Mark Schmitz was named executive vice president and chief financial officer in September 2014.

Schmitz has 40 years of experience in finance and executive leadership roles across the manufacturing, service, retail and technology industries.

Prior to joining Itron, Schmitz was CFO of Alghanim Industries, a privately held, global multi-industry corporation headquartered in Kuwait.

He previously served as CFO at several other global corporations, including The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Tyco International Limited’s Worldwide Fire and Security Segment and Plug Power Inc.

In addition, he held a number of financial leadership roles at General Motors over 25 years.

Schmitz received a MBA in Finance and a B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature from Ohio State University.

Unexpected

Generally speaking, when a top manager announces to step aside with no permanent successor available, it is a signal that the change was unplanned and too early.

Signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Mark Schmitz’ move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 14.2017 ($).