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W.L. Ross Cleans House: New Team at Burlington Aims for Lean Operation

Wilbur L. Ross and Joseph L. Gorga were named the top executives at Burlington Industries, as creditors approved its sale to W.L. Ross & Co.

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NEW YORK — For Wilbur L. Ross and Joseph L. Gorga, turning Burlington Industries around is as easy as one, two, three.

The two executives laid out a three-point plan Wednesday during a press conference following the news that creditors had given W.L. Ross & Co. the green light to buy the textile firm when it emerges from Chapter 11 reorganization, currently slated for Nov. 10. The deal is valued at about $614 million.

Ross will assume the title of chairman, while Gorga will be named president and chief executive officer. The rest of the senior management team at Burlington is “leaving to pursue other opportunities.”

“We have a threefold process for Burlington,” said Gorga, via telephone from the firm’s headquarters in Greensboro, N.C. “We have to have an obsession for cost reduction and align our prices with the global marketplace. We need to bring new technology to the industry and we need to enforce the existing strength of the Burlington brand name.”

Gorga, who is the only senior executive remaining with the company, joined Burlington last year as executive vice president of North American operations. Prior to that, he was general manager for the automotive and elastic fibers business at Milliken & Co. and was ceo of CMI Industries. Gorga held the post of vice chairman of the American Textile Manufacturing Institute and is currently a director of the National Textile Association.

The departing Burlington management team includes chairman and ceo George W. Henderson; senior vice president, corporate development and law, John D. Englar; senior vice president and chief financial officer Charles E. Peters; senior vice president, global operations support; chief information officer Judith J. Altman; vice president and general counsel Robert A. Wicker, and James M. Guin, vice president, human resources and corporate communications.

Ross said the senior-level staff had planned to leave the company once it exited bankruptcy and commended the team for its performance.

“This is not a criticism of prior management,” he said. “The outgoing management did a heroic job keeping the company together under the difficult circumstances both before and after bankruptcy. It is one of the few companies in bankruptcy that I’ve seen actually pay down its debtor-in-financing.”
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