United Solar’s parent hires new chief executive

By Daily News • Last Updated 9:43 am on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

AUBURN HILLS — The parent company of United Solar Ovonic has a new chief executive at the helm.
Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (ECD) announced Julian Hawkins accepted the position of president and chief executive officer. He will begin his new job on Dec. 5.
Hawkins will be paid a base salary of $440,000 annually, along with a $300,000 sign-on bonus and about 3 percent of the company’s stock. He will receive half of the stock on June 5 and Dec. 5, 2012, if he remains employed with the company on those dates.
Hawkins, 46, previously worked as senior vice president of sales and marketing at Abound Solar since June 2008. He also has worked in senior management positions at technology giants Integrated Device Technologies, Infineon Technologies and Samsung Semiconductor.
“We are pleased to bring in Julian as our new” chief executive officer, Stephen Rabinowitz, chairman of ECD’s board of directors, said in a statement. “Julian is an experienced and talented executive with important industry knowledge and relationships… We are confident that Julian will have an immediate positive impact on our solar business.”
Hawkins will take over for Mark Morelli, who left ECD in May amid a shakeup and major restructuring.
ECD appointed Jay Knoll, 48, interim president in Morelli’s place last May. Knoll will be reassigned to the newly created position of executive vice president and chief restructuring officer with Hawkins’ hiring.
Hawkins and Knoll will share management of ECD with Hawkins focusing on United Solar’s operations and Knoll working to “navigate through the current environment and position us for the future,” Rabinowitz said.
“Julian and Jay together provide a strong leadership team for us to move our business forward and maximize value for our constituents,” Rabinowitz said.
Hawkins’ and Knoll’s appointments come at a crossroads for ECD and United Solar, which operate two solar panel manufacturing plants in Greenville.
The companies are struggling to stay afloat after plummeting sales caused a steep drop in revenue throughout 2011 and a complete halt in production from October through December.
The company is in the midst of a major restructuring involving 500 job cuts worldwide announced in May and another 500 layoffs announced in October.

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