ABB divests distribution transformer manufacturing plant in Athens, Ga.


ATHENS, Ga., May 13, 2003 — ABB announced it has entered into an agreement to sell its Athens, GA, distribution transformer manufacturing plant to the team that owns Change Partners L.L.C., an Athens- based organizational consulting firm that helps work cultures — primarily in manufacturing companies — adapt to change.

Terms for the sale of the business to Power Partners, Inc., whose primary shareholders are Dr. Sherrie Ford and Steve Hollis, were not disclosed. Revenues derived from the products manufactured at the plant totaled approximately $100 million in 2002.

The pole-type distribution transformers manufactured at the Athens plant are designed to serve residential overhead distribution loads. They are also suitable for light commercial loads, industrial lighting and diversified power applications. The plant serves utilities, manufacturing companies and energy producers in the United States, Mexico and other international markets.

Power Partners, Inc., will offer continued employment to the approximately 500 active ABB-Athens employees at the time the change in ownership goes into effect on May 15. The company is led by Steve Hollis, who serves as Chief Executive Officer, and Allan Slovin, who is Chief Operating Officer.

Hollis held sales and manufacturing leadership positions at Georgia Pacific and several other companies before joining Change Partners as a partner in 1996. Slovin most recently managed Mitsubishi Consumer Electronics North American manufacturing operations, and has served in a number of other senior manufacturing positions in large companies.

Sherrie Ford will serve as a director of Power Partners, and she will continue to lead the Change Partners consulting firm. Hollis will continue to be an active principal at Change Partners. Power Partners and Change Partners are independent companies.

“Through Change Partners’ relationships with customers, we have helped many manufacturing companies succeed by developing team-oriented work cultures in which employees perform well because their morale is high,” said CEO Steve Hollis. “We are eager to make Power Partners a rewarding experience for everyone involved in the new venture.

“Power Partners is looking first to strengthen the effectiveness of existing Athens operations, but we also see excellent opportunities for growth,” Hollis said. “We expect to meet our business objectives by making the plant a showcase for concepts such as employee involvement and lean manufacturing. We firmly believe employees, customers, suppliers and our community in Athens, GA, will all benefit from the plant’s new ownership, and we are excited at the opportunities it presents.”

“My relationship with the plant we have purchased dates back to the late 1980s, and I have worked with every plant manager and virtually every employee during that time,” said co-owner Sherrie Ford. “Knowing that the potential of the workforce is second to none gives us complete confidence in the future of this plant and its ability to provide good manufacturing jobs that are important to the Athens community.”

Power Partners and ABB will have a continuing business relationship. ABB will be Power Partners’ channel to the marketplace and will sell the transformers that Power Partners produces under the ABB brand.

Gerry Schepers, Executive Vice President for ABB Distribution Transformers, said the divestiture is a good move for ABB. “Our business relationship with Power Partners will allow us to continue to offer ABB’s customers a complete portfolio of transmission and distribution equipment. The new owners of the Athens plant will place us in a better position competitively to sustain and grow this segment of the distribution transformer business.”

The sale is subject to the completion of financing.

Power Partners manufactures single-phase and three-phase pole-type transformers at 34.5 kV and below; in ratings from 5 – 833 kVA single-phase and 30- 500 kVA three-phase. The pole-type transformers are manufactured to the international standards of ISO 9001.

ABB (www.abb.com ) is a global provider of power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. ABB has 139,000 employees in more than 100 countries.

Sherrie Ford founded the Center for Continuous Improvement at Athens Tech with a mission to develop leadership and vision at all levels in an organization. The Center’s local manufacturing successes led Ford to create Change Partners, L.L.C. in 1996. Steve Hollis, who became involved with the Center initially as a Georgia-Pacific executive, joined Change Partners six months after the organizational consulting firm was established.

Change Partners serves clients in the manufacturing and service sectors, and the manufacturing organization ABB has just sold to Ford and Hollis has been one of Change Partners’ clients. For more information about Change Partners, visit www.changepartners.com on the Web.


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