March 1 1994 by Judith Rehak
In taking the reins of Owens-Corning Fiberglas two years ago, Glen Hiner faced a tall task. Struggling to pay off a $2 billion debt, incurred while defeating a hostile takeover, the Toledo-based company had divested operations and cut back on R&D. Its CEO, stricken by cancer, had retired after only a brief time in the job. Media reports on OCF focused almost exclusively on its asbestos liability, despite its minor role in that debacle.
But Hiner, 59, formerly head of the plastics division at General Electric, is off to a good start. Buoyed by a growth agenda that emphasizes cost control, new products, and new markets, OCF’s income before extraordinary items reached $2.40 per share in 1993, up from $1.68 the year before. Productivity gains hit a solid 5 percent in the fourth quarter and full year, and Hiner, chairman and CEO, says he’s aiming for $5 billion in sales by the end of the decade, up from $2.9 billion in 1993.
An unreasonable target? “It’s not so outrageous,” says Matthew Diserio, who follows the company for PaineWebber. “Look at GE’s operating units. They normally strive for roughly 4 percent productivity enhancement annually, and some do twice that. He’s successfully applying his GE experience to OCF.”
Partly because of the weak economic recovery at home, and its impact on new construction, Hiner also seeks growth overseas. Only 28 percent of the company’s business comes from outside the
Hiner spent 35 years at GE, the last 13 running its plastics business. He is one of a select group of GE executives who left to run his own company.
“It was very simple,” he says. “I had to decide whether I was going to continue to be a key officer in the world’s finest corporation or run something on my own. Jack Welch is going to run GE as long as he wants to. If I wanted to be a CEO, I had to do it.”