|Ballard’s stock since 2001|
The Board of Directors of Ballard Power Systems announced that Dennis Campbell has stepped down as President and CEO of the hydrogen fuel cell maker. Campbell’s exit follows the recent sale of Ballard’s German subsidiary, and the company’s recently completed restructuring.
The management change is a reflection of the much slower than anticipated commercialization of fuel cell technology.
Ballard brought Campbell on board in 2002 from the US to transform it from being a company with intriguing concepts to a commercial powerhouse.
In an interview with Canada’s Globe and Mail, Campbell noted that:
[...] the automobile industry, Ballard’s prime target market, is now not expected to get into full-scale production of cars with hydrogen fuel cell technology until the 2012-to-2015 period.
That is much later than was expected when he signed on with the company in mid-2002 as president and chief operating officer and designated successor to then CEO Firoz Rasul, who stepped down the following March. Ballard hired him away from his post as president of the world’s largest manufacturer of vacuum cleaner bags, Home Care Industries Inc. of Clifton, N.J.
“When they were recruiting me, the company was gearing up for a drive to commercialization . . . and they were really looking for a senior CEO kind of guy . . . who had the experience to come in and take the company to that level,” he said.
“Well, when I got here, we found out quickly that although this technology is going to change the world, it’s going to take some time. The pace and rhythm of the automobile industry is slow.“
“We’ve downsized the company [so] we need to downsize the CEO,” Mr. Campbell said.
Shares of Ballard dropped to C$5.73 dollars (US$4.83) on the Toronto Stock Exchange mid-Friday, down 29 cents since Wednesday’s close. The stock has plunged from a high of C$192 dollars (US$162) since March 2000.
John Sheridan, Chairman of the Board and retired President and Chief Operating Officer of Bell Canada, has been named interim President and Chief Executive Officer and will assume day-to-day management of the company. Campbell’s departure was effective immediately.