Word of Stonecipher's ouster spread rapidly among Boeing employees, partly because it was announced by the company in internal communications.
Word of Stonecipher’s ouster spread rapidly among Boeing employees, partly because it was announced by the company in internal communications.
“It was on when I got in at 4:30 a.m.,” said John Marberg, who works on interiors at the Boeing Everett plant and said he read the announcement in an internal Boeing electronic newsletter. “There was video and everything. They try to tell us first.”
Marberg and other employees had differing reactions to the dismissal, and expressed uncertainty and confusion about the implications of Stonecipher’s termination.
“It was kind of harsh. Bottom line,” said Marberg, adding that Stonecipher losing both his CEO and board chairman positions perhaps seemed excessive for the conduct that has so far been disclosed.
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“It’s not good, but it’s not a big blow, either,” said Marberg, noting that Stonecipher already had been expected to retire in about a year and a half, when he turns 70.
After digesting the news, Marberg said, “the next thing everybody checks is the stock.” Workers who own Boeing shares seemed relieved when Stonecipher’s forced resignation seemed to have only a minor impact on the price, initially sending Boeing prices down about 67 cents a share.
But Marberg said he and fellow workers were puzzled about the details of the termination announcement, which indicated Stonecipher was fired not merely for having an affair, but because of related, but undisclosed, activities.
“It’s how he went about it that got him fired,” said Marberg. “We have to focus on getting clean so we can get those contracts. It just shows how stringent we are being on ourselves.”
Other workers speculated that Stonecipher’s departure could help the company.
“I never liked him,” said one worker on his lunch hour at the Happy Tummy Grill on Casino Road. The worker, who declined to give his name but wore a 777 hat, recalled how he’d heard stories of Stonecipher’s brutal firings of subordinates.
“What we really want to know is who he was messing around with, and why wasn’t she fired?” said another worker sitting across the table, who also declined to be identified,
“I think it’ll be better,” that worker said. “All you hear is rumblings about Stonecipher. Nobody liked him.”
Workers at Goodrich, a Boeing supplier based at Everett’s Paine Field, said the resignation was the subject of much discussion there, since that business depends on Boeing’s success for its own profitability. (Goodrich employees wear identification tags that say “Boeing” because of their frequent work inside Boeing facilities.)
One Goodrich employee, who would identify himself only as Mike, said the departure wasn’t a big surprise.
“I guess the phrase is ‘surprised, but not shocked,’ ” said Mike, explaining that he’s worked for several large aerospace corporations and had followed Stonecipher’s career — particularly his years at General Electric. Stonecipher worked with Jack Welch, GE’s former CEO, who went through a multi-million-dollar divorce in 2003.
“It wasn’t a surprise, because of he and Welch,” said Mike. “It’s kind of like a generation, a persona. Jack influenced a lot of people. Jack’s disciples is what I like to call them.
“I’m surprised it all happened so quickly, but you have to be spotless. You have to lead by example. Otherwise, he’s not much of a leader.
“Let’s hope the new man does things in a more traditional way,” he added. “I think we’ll be OK in the long run.”