After Dispute with Former CEO, Techne Names New Leader

Longtime CEO Thomas Oland resigned in November and said he disagreed with the board’s decision to consider external candidates for his successor; now, the board has tapped an outsider as its next leader.

Techne Corporation—whose longtime CEO resigned in November and protested the search process for his successor—said Monday that it has appointed a new chief executive.

Techne, a Minneapolis-based maker of biotechnology products that are used in life sciences research, announced that Charles Kummeth is expected to take the reins as CEO on April 1, and he will also join the company’s board.

Techne disclosed in a November regulatory filing that then-CEO and President Thomas Oland had resigned from his positions earlier than planned because he disagreed with the board’s decision to include external candidates in its search for his successor. Oland had led the company as CEO since 1985, and he had recommended that the board choose Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Gregory Melsen as its next leader.

Upon Oland’s departure, Techne appointed Melsen as interim CEO but said it had begun a search for a permanent replacement. On Monday, the company announced that it had selected Kummeth, an external candidate, but one with local ties.

Kummeth is a former executive of Maplewood-based 3M Company, where he held several roles, including vice president of the company’s medical division—a position he occupied between 2006 and 2008.

He then joined Waltham, Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., where he served as president of the company’s laboratory consumables division before becoming president of mass spectrometry and chromatography.

Upon Kummeth’s appointment as CEO, Melsen will continue to serve as vice president of finance and CFO, Techne said.

Techne Chairman Robert Baumgartner said in a statement that Kummeth has a “tremendous executive track record of success and major accomplishments.” At Thermo Fisher Scientific, Kummeth “led a team of thousands of employees to over a billion dollars in annual sales,” Techne said in a news release.

Kummeth’s contract includes an annual base salary of $575,000, as well as an annual performance-based cash bonus with a target amount of 75 percent of his salary, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He will also receive a time-vested stock option to buy 65,000 shares of the company's stock, as well as a performance-vested stock option to buy 50,000 shares; both options will have an exercise price equal to the stock’s closing price on April 1, according to the regulatory filing.

Shares of the company’s stock were trading down about 0.6 percent at $66.98 mid-day Monday.

Techne has two operating subsidiaries: Minneapolis-based Research and Diagnostic Systems, Inc., (R&D Systems) and R&D Systems Europe, Ltd., which is headquartered in England. R&D Systems, a specialty manufacturer of biological products, itself has three subsidiaries—BiosPacific, a supplier of biologics to manufacturers of in vitro diagnostic systems and immunodiagnostic kits; Boston Biochem, a developer of ubiquitin-related research products; and R&D China, which, like R&D Systems Europe, distributes biotechnology products.

Techne is among Minnesota’s 60-largest public companies based on annual revenue, which totaled $314.5 million for the fiscal year that ended in June—representing a year-over-year increase of 8.5 percent.

For the quarter that ended December 31, adjusted earnings—which exclude certain acquisition-related costs—totaled $27.2 million, down 2.9 percent from the same period a year ago. Revenue, meanwhile, climbed 0.6 percent to $75.1 million.

“Techne has a strong legacy for innovation, quality, and brand, all the components necessary to be successful in today’s highly competitive but rapidly growing life science research markets,” Kummeth said in a statement. “I look forward to leading the organization as Techne expands globally, particularly in Asia and emerging markets.”