Orion Energy replaces CEO

Manitowoc-based Orion Energy Systems Inc., which is the focus of an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), announced today that John Scribante has been appointed chief executive officer, replacing Neal Verfuerth.

Verfuerth has been named chairman emeritus/founder.
Scribante also was appointed to the company’s board of directors for a term to expire in 2014.

In August this year, Orion received a subpoena issued by the staff of the SEC, requesting certain documents and information generally related to the company’s financial reporting of its sales of solar photovoltaic systems. Earlier this year, the company announced it was restating its financial results for the past two years.

Prior to his appointment, Scribante served as president of Orion Engineered Systems Division since August 2009, after serving as the company’s senior vice president of business development since 2007.  Scribante served as the company’s vice president of sales from 2004 until 2007.

Prior to joining the company, Scribante co-founded and served as chief executive officer of Xe Energy, LLC, a distribution company that specialized in marketing energy reduction technologies.

James Kackley, chairman of the Orion board, said, “In the tradition of other renown entrepreneurial company founders, this change of leadership reflects Neal’s natural transition away from being involved in the ongoing demands of running Orion’s day-to-day operations into a more advisory role focusing on product innovation and development.  Neal has done a tremendous job of founding and growing Orion from its inception to becoming a company that recognized more than $100 million of revenue last fiscal year. Our board felt it was time for Neal, after some well-deserved time off, to have the opportunity to direct his full time attention to his first love and passion – innovative product development, while John can direct his proven disciplined bottom-line orientation to improve our profitability and share price.”

Scribante said, “I look forward to the challenge of improving both our near-term and long-term bottom-line financial results, while continuing to focus on increasing our revenues and meeting our goal of recognizing $250 million in annual revenue by 2017.”

In February and March 2008, three class action lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Orion, several of its officers, all members of its then existing board of directors and certain underwriters relating to the company’s December 2007 initial public offering (IPO), according to SEC records.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, the company reached a preliminary agreement to settle the class action lawsuits and on Jan. 3, 2011, the court issued an order granting preliminary approval of the settlement. After a fairness hearing on April 14, 2011, the court approved the settlement in a final judgment and order.

Orion’s common stock has been downgraded by analysts and was trading today at $1.84 per share. The company recently reported a fiscal first quarter loss of $1.9 million.

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