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New CEO of Arctic Glacier optimistic

N.J. exec vows to find opportunities

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IT'S taken eight months, but the new owners of Arctic Glacier Holdings Inc. have finally put their stamp on the company.

On Monday, it was announced Fred Smagorinsky, a veteran New Jersey-based company executive, has been named CEO of Arctic Glacier.

Friday was the last day for outgoing CEO Keith McMahon, who was at the helm during the company's spiral into bankruptcy protection and its eventual sale to the private equity firm, H.I.G. Capital.

Along with the ouster of McMahon, the company is also looking to fill a handful of top positions, including chief financial officer and executive vice-presidents of sales and operations.

Many company watchers had been waiting for the appointment of a new CEO since Miami's H.I.G. paid $434 million for the company last June. And for some of those who have been hurt by the company's several wrong turns over the past five years, there is no love lost for the former management team.

"This is a step in the right direction and was long overdue," said a person with interests in Arctic who spoke on condition his name not be used. "The old regime were the masters of the decline at Arctic."

Smagorinsky was the CEO of Marcal Manufacturing, a New Jersey manufacturer of recycled paper products whose annual sales were a little larger than Arctic's approximately $240 million.

Prior to that, Smagorinsky was CEO of a building supplies business and before that, he spent several years in a number of senior management positions with Sealed Air, an $8-billion per-year global packaging company.

Former shareholders of Arctic Glacier -- many of whom are in Winnipeg -- will have to be patient to see if there will be a payout on their shares through the court-appointed bankruptcy protection process.

But looking ahead, Smagorinsky believes there is reason to be optimistic.

"The good news is that Arctic Glacier is a profitable market-leading player in the packaged-ice industry," he said. "It is not a broken company in any sense. That said, the challenge is to build on that and to find market opportunities."

He said it's too early for him to say what form that would take, but he added there would be an aggressive focus on growth and acquisitions. Arctic Glacier made dozens of acquisitions in the years leading up to the 2008 Department of Justice investigation into anti-trust activity in the packaged-ice business. There has been none since then.

Smagorinsky will remain based near his home in Montclair, N.J., where he said the new CFO will also be based.

The former VP of sales, who resigned some time ago, had been based in California. His replacement is likely also to be based in the U.S. It's not clear where the VP of operations will be based.

The company's administrative headquarters is to remain in Winnipeg. That operation manages all the back-office functions for Arctic's 86 production plants and distribution facilities across Canada and the U.S.

"We know how important Arctic Glacier is to the Winnipeg community and it will continue to be the company's administrative headquarters," Smagorinsky said in a phone interview from Chicago Monday.

He said he plans to travel extensively and implement lean practices throughout the company. "I want to build a culture within the company of communication and engagement with employees about accountability and a focus on high performance," he said.

Sources have said there was a sour relationship between the former head-office executives and the operations people in the field.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2013 B3

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