People

Oil Patch Vet Moves to Penn Virginia

LearningStar, Gentner Communications get new CFOs as well.
Jennifer CaplanAugust 27, 2001
  • Radnor, Pa.-based Penn Virginia Corp., a natural gas producer, named Frank Pici chief financial officer. He will replace James Idiaquez, who is retiring.

    Pici is a veteran of the energy business. Most recently he served as CFO at Mariner Energy Inc., a privately held, Houston-based oil and gas exploration company. At Mariner, Pici was responsible for all financial activities, including accounting, treasury, and financial planning. During his tenure there, he helped manage private debt and equity financings, and prepared the company for a planned IPO. Prior to that, Pici held a variety of management positions at Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., which he joined in 1989. He worked his way up to the corporate controller position at Cabot in 1994.

    Penn Virginia Corp.’s second-quarter earnings rose 21 percent to $7.5 million, narrowly beating expectations. The increase is earnings is mostly due to stronger natural gas prices and increased revenues from sales of coal. The company reported second-quarter net income, excluding special items, of $7.5 million or 83 cents per share versus $6.2 million, or 74 cents per share, in the same year-ago quarter. During the second quarter, the company acquired Synergy Oil and Gas Inc. for $112 million.

  • Gentner Communications Corp., a maker of broadcast, audio and videoconferencing equipment based in Salt Lake City, named Randall J. Wichinski vice president and chief financial officer. Wichinski is a member of Gentner’s board of directors. He succeeds Susie Strohm, who will remain with the company as controller and vice president. Strohm joined Gentner in 1996 and was named vice president of finance in 1997, and chief financial officer in 1998. Prior to joining Gentner, Strohm was controller at The Newspaper Agency Corp., a publishing company based in Salt Lake City. She graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in accounting, and received her master’s degree in business administration from Westminster College.

In his new role as CFO, Wichinski will be responsible for Gentner’s financial and tax strategies and for all financial reporting. He has been a member of Gentner’s board of directors since June 1999 and will continue to serve on the board.

Wichinski joins Gentner with more than 20 years of business, financial and managerial experience, including 16 years with consultancy Ernst & Young LLP. Wichinski served in various positions during his time at E&Y, including tax partner and director of insurance tax services. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, he was a revenue agent and criminal investigator for the Internal Revenue Service. Wichinski earned his BA and MA degrees in accounting and business administration at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He is a certified public accountant.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001, Gentner reported $1.6 million in net income from continuing operations on net sales of $10.7 million. That’s a 29 percent increase in net income and a 34 percent increase in net sales over the same quarter last year.

  • Managers at Monterey, Calif.-based LearningStar Corp., a developer, manufacturer, and retailer of educational products, appointed Richard Delaney to the CFO post. He will replace Robert Cahill, who has been serving as company CFO since its combination with SmarterKids.com. LearningStar was formed through the combination of Earlychildhood LLC and SmarterKids.com in the spring of 2001.

    Most recently Delaney served as a director at Peoples Bank of California and its publicly traded holding company, PBOC Holdings through its sale on April 30, 2001. Delaney is also a consultant to entrepreneurial companies looking to expand their business operations into foreign countries. He will continue to serve as a member of the LearningStar Corp. board of directors. Delaney, who is a CPA, was formerly a partner at Grant Thornton LLP, the sixth largest accounting and consulting firm in the US.

    For the three months ended March 31, 2001, revenues at the company increased 11 percent to $13.9 million. Net loss increased 6 percent to $1.7 million.