Profile: Travis Engen-The Engine at ITT

Article excerpt



Chairman, President, and CEO IT Industries

Age: 53

Birthplace: Pasadena, CA

Family: Wife, Anne Elizabeth Erickson; one daughter

Education: Aeronautics, MIT, 1967

Weak spots: Failed Latin and Russian reads a book a week

Tech Tac: Five cell phones, two PCs

Tick Tock: Collects and repairs grandfathers clocks; owns 10 built from 1600 to 1800

Triathlons: Swims 2.5 kilometers, runs, and bikes

Passion: Vintage car racing weekends

Favorite books: Too many to name. "I read lots of books of all kinds: science, biographies, fiction, and books on car racing and antique clocks.

Current Reading: Biography of James Cook

Favorite vacation: Staying home, relaxing. "I travel enough on business."

Favorite room: Kitchen

Most mornings when he's not traveling, Travis Engen, chairman, president, and CEO of ITT Industries, eases his Acura NSX out of his suburban Connecticut garage for the 20-minute drive to ITT's White Plains headquarters. Engen obeys the speed limit for the commute here but when the 53year-old aeronautical engineer drives his Formula Four or other two race cars-he owns nine cars total-it's pedal to the metal.

That flat-out sail-shuddering-in-the-wind approach is how Engen negotiates the business landscape. "We're in a race, competing for investment dollars getting people to buy our stock instead of someone else's," he says.

Those who did buy shares of ITT may consider themselves flush. Shares of the $4.4 billion industrial products company-spun off from the old $23.5 billion ITT Corp. in 1995-have climbed more than 18 percent in the past 12 months. For the nine months ending September 30, 1998 net income soared 17.7 percent to $203.5 million and operating income rose 15.6 percent.

In non-fiduciary terms, Engen equates success with achievement, and credits his father with his own success. "My father succeeded in a series of very different careers and is widely respected by everyone who knew him," he says, proudly.

Engen orchestrated ITT's success by pruning, reorganizing, divesting, acquiring, and developing. In December, he announced ITT would cut as many as 1,200 jobs-3.5 percent of its workforce of 34,000-to trim costs and stabilize profits in anticipation of a slowdown in Asia and flattening worldwide. Between 5 and 7 percent of ITT sales come from Asia.

Last fall, the company reorganized into four divisions and sold most of its auto-parts business to concentrate on pumps, its largest unit, and connectors, both industries that thrive in slowdowns. ITT's Cannon brand makes switches, cabling, and connectors that read "smart cards." The principal products of the defense unit are air traffic control systems, jamming devices that guard military planes against radar-guided weapons, digital combat radios, night vision devices, and satellite instruments. …