Techne CEO Resigns Early in Protest Over Succession Plan

The company revealed in regulatory filings that Thomas Oland disagreed with its board’s decision to consider external candidates while searching for the next CEO.

Techne Corporation announced Monday that its CEO and president, Thomas Oland, has decided to resign from his positions on November 30.
 
According to documents filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Oland stepped down earlier than planned because he disagreed with the board’s decision to include external candidates in its search for Oland’s successor. Techne described the search as part of its “succession planning activities,” but did not reveal when Oland initially planned to retire.
 
Oland, who has been CEO of the company since 1985, announced his upcoming resignation through e-mails sent to the board last week, according to the SEC filing.
 
Oland had also served as chairman of the company’s board of directors but resigned from the board on November 1.
 
“To fill the CEO position with someone who has no detailed knowledge of our culture, management, or operations, and with whom you have not had a working relationship, will put at risk all that we and our employees have built over the past 30 years,” Oland wrote in his e-mail to the board. “In my opinion, a much better choice is to promote from within.”
 
In his e-mail, Oland specifically recommended that the board choose Chief Financial Officer Gregory Melsen as his successor.
 
Techne announced Monday that Melsen will serve as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is named. Melsen has served as CFO for the past eight years, and prior to that, he held various executive management positions at several public companies.
 
Techne said in a news release that the board has initiated a search for a permanent CEO with the assistance of a “nationally recognized” executive search firm.
 
“Since I do not agree with your decision to hire someone from the outside as CEO, I will not participate in the recruiting process and I cannot endorse or support your position with either our employees or shareholders,” Oland wrote in his e-mail.

The company’s board appointed Robert Baumgartner as its new chairman, effective November 2. Baumgartner has been a director of the company since 2003 and has served as chair of the company’s audit committee.
 
“On behalf of the Techne board of directors, I would like to express our sincere gratitude and admiration for the leadership Tom Oland has provided to Techne over the past 27 years,” Baumgartner said in a statement. “Tom’s dedication and commitment have put Techne in position to continue on its path of innovation and growth.”
 
Minneapolis-based Techne Corporation makes biotechnology products that are used in life sciences research. It is among Minnesota’s 60-largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $314.5 million for the fiscal year that ended in June—representing a year-over-year increase of 8.5 percent.
 
Net income for its fiscal 2013 first quarter that ended in September totaled $25.7 million, or 70 cents per share—down 6.5 percent from its income for the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter totaled $75 million, down 3.3 percent from a year earlier.