New Plug Power President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Marsh told investors Tuesday morning that he does not yet know when the company will issue any kind of strategic outlook for 2008, but he will begin working on it immediately.
“I will be spending considerable time over the coming months with my management team understanding deeper our position in the material handling market and with telecommunication service providers,” Marsh said. “I’m sure as we develop those plans we’ll be letting folks know detailed schedules of when additional information will be available. At this time I don’t have a firm date where I’m signing up to provide that information to the market.”
Tuesday was Marsh’s first day on the job. He was chosen from a final two applicants interviewed by the Latham fuel cell manufacturer last week. He said he was excited to be moving from Texas to New York to take the job of helping to expand the markets for Plug Power’s fuel cell systems and enjoy “all four seasons” experienced in Capital Region’s temperate climate.
“In my opinion fuel cells have the potential to be a significant component in solving the world’s energy crisis,” Marsh said. “Plug Power under my leadership will be a sales and marketing-driven company and focus on meeting customers needs.”
Plug Power Board of Directors Chairman George McNamee had said in March, when the company filed its 2007 year-end report, that Plug would not issue any public milestones for 2008 until it had hired a new CEO. McNamee expressed confidence in Marsh during a conference call with investors Tuesday.
“He meets all of the criteria that our board set out for this position,” McNamee said. “We wanted an experienced CEO will a long history of success, a deep knowledge of how to commercialize new products, a strong technical background and most of all real leadership skills.”
Marsh’s resume includes having founded Valere Power and serving as its CEO from 2001 until 2007, when it was bought by Eltek ASA. He is said to have grown the company’s revenues from $1.2 million to $90 million during his tenure. He also spent almost 18 years with Lucent Bell laboratories, where he held a variety of sales and technical management positions, giving him a combined 25 years of experience with the telecommunications sector, the major market for Plug Power’s GenCore backup power system
Pearce Hammond, an analyst for Simmons & Co. International, asked Marsh why he thought the GenCore system was struggling to gain commercial acceptance.
“I plan to spend considerable time with customers directly over the next two months to hear about issues associated with the deployment of GenCore,” Marsh said. “It’s been my experience, having worked with service providers for a good deal of the past 25 years, that acceptance may not always be as rabid as people expect.”
Marsh’s base salary will be $375,000, with the potential of an annual bonus of up to 50 percent of his salary in 2008 as well as the option to purchase 400,000 shares of the company’s common stock.
His relocation costs from Texas will also be paid for by Plug Power, including the real estate costs for selling his home in Texas, food and lodging expenses for a house-hunting trip to the Albany area, closing costs relating the to the purchase of a new home and temporary living expenses in the Albany area for up to three months.
Marsh’s predecessor, Roger Saillant, drew a $325,000 salary in 2006. He will receive a retirement payment this year for $1.5 million, most of which was agreed to by Plug Power in 2000 as compensation for retirement benefits Saillant gave up by leaving Visteon Corp. to take over Plug.
Saillant has said his tenure at Plug Power was focused on establishing hydrogen fuel cells as a viable commercial product. Marsh’s mission appears to be increasing revenue from the sale of those fuel cells.
“I find the most exciting aspect of this position is developing the market,” Marsh said.
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