Plug Power sees change at the top
Updated 8:28 p.m.
LATHAM With leadership changes and a second chance to get its common stock price up, Plug Power continues to claw its way toward profitability. No one, however, expects it will come easily.
On Tuesday, the Latham-based fuel cell maker announced its chief financial officer and senior vice president, Gerald Anderson, had resigned and would be replaced temporarily by David P. Waldek. In addition, the board appointed a new chief accounting officer and class II director. The news came simultaneously with a notice from the NASDAQ stating that Plug Power had received a six-month extension to get its common stock in compliance with minimum bid price rule.
“While the company has experienced significant challenges in 2012, I believe the future of Plug Power is bright and that we are in the right market, with the right customers,” said President and CEO Andy Marsh in a March 28 news release. “We remain focused on the future.”
Once considered the place to invest, Plug Power is struggling to get back on track after a painful 2012, which itself came on top of a painful 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. The manufacturer primarily develops fuel cell systems for industrial vehicles and forklifts as an alternative to lead-acid batteries. The company technically began in 1997 but didn’t really gain its legs until 2010, when it began gaining significant revenues, repeat customers and a significant backlog of orders.
But last fall, Plug Power was notified that it had fallen out of compliance with NASDAQ rules because the bid price of its common stock closed below the required minimum $1 per share for 30 consecutive business days. The company was given until April 10 to regain compliance or it would face delisting from the NASDAQ Stock Market.
On Friday, it received word that it had six more months to regain compliance.
“The company is currently evaluating its alternatives to resolve the listing deficiency,” the company wrote in a news release Tuesday, when its stock reached a high of 18 cents.
The company’s leadership was roiled the same day the notice arrived.
Anderson, who had served as CFO since 2007, announced his resignation. Waldek, the new interim CFO, comes to Plug Power with more than a decade of financial management experience. He was founding partner of business solutions advisory firm CFO Advisory Group LLC since 2005. He also served as CFO of Albany Molecular Research Inc. from 1999 to 2004.
Jill McCoskey, the new chief accounting officer, was Plug Power’s controller since 2008. In addition, Plug Power’s board of directors appointed Johannes M. Roth on Tuesday to serve as a class II director of the company, effective immediately. His term will expire at the annual meeting of stockholders this year, and he was granted options to purchase 65,000 shares of Plug Power common stock at a price of 17 cents per share.
In the past five months, Plug Power has laid off 22 employees and angered shareholders with a public offering of more than 18.9 million shares. On April 1, Plug Power announced it had decided to sell its 36-acre Latham headquarters — which includes an office building, manufacturing facility and R&D center — to an Albany real estate group for $4.5 million in the hopes of staying afloat.
In numerous SEC filings, Plug Power has expressed that its goals are to decrease product and manufacturing costs while expanding its sales network. Last year, it received new orders from Stihl, Mercedes Benz, Lowe’s, Carter’s and Ace Hardware.
Plug Power officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.