Schenectady Officials React To Latest GE Turmoil

Oct 2, 2018

General Electric is replacing its chairman and chief executive after a little over a year on the job. The change has raised interest in Schenectady.

Word came Monday that John Flannery was out as chairman and CEO of the Boston-based company.

GE, despite its corporate holdings, lengthy history and large presence in New York and New England, was dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in June. GE warned it will miss its profit forecasts this year.

Flannery, who succeeded longtime CEO Jeff Immelt,  is leaving the company after a failed restructuring plan.   Independent Schenectady City Councilman Vince Riggi took the news in stride.   “If a baseball team goes bad, the manager loses his job. And the way the stock maket crashed for GE, it doesn’t surprise me and hopefully, that’s gonna be a plus for Schenectady, the new CEO. I don’t think it can get any worse, as far as that goes. So I’m hoping that’s gonna be a good thing and they’re gonna replace him with a good CEO that’s gonna bring GE back.”

GE has named a replacement, man who has been called one of the most successful CEOs in corporate America:  H. Lawrence Culp Jr., former head of Washington, D.C.-based Danaher Corporation, which describes itself as "a Fortune 500 science and technology innovator." 

Culp said in a statement, “GE remains a fundamentally strong company with great businesses and tremendous talent. It is a privilege to be asked to lead this iconic company. We will be working very hard in the coming weeks to drive superior execution, and we will move with urgency. We remain committed to strengthening the balance sheet..."

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy is adopting a “wait-and-see” attitude.   "They're going through a period of a little bit of challenge. They've dealt with these things in the past and wanna make sure that the Schenectady facility remains competitive globally."

Periodic layoffs have become part of GE culture. In August, GE laid off 200 hourly workers at its power unit in Schenectady, the latest in a series of cuts to the local workforce dating back to 2013.

GE was founded in Schenectady in 1892.  Employment in its original headquarters is around 4,000, many of those roles in engineering, marketing and procurement. Another 1,500 scientists and technicians work at the company’s main research lab in neighboring Niskayuna.