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Graham Corp. has picked a South Carolina executive, William C. Johnson, as the new president and chief executive officer of the Batavia heat transfer and vacuum equipment maker, replacing the retiring Al Cadena.

Johnson, who has a bachelor's degree from Alfred University, comes to Graham from ESAB Welding and Cutting Equipment, which he joined in 1999 as general manager and added responsibilities as senior vice president earlier this year.

"He is a distinguished and talented executive with a consistent track record of success, particularly in optimizing operations and delivering profitable growth," said Jerald D. Bidlack, Graham's chairman.

Johnson, who took over as Graham's top executive on Monday, was selected after a national search, Bidlack said. At ESAB, Johnson oversaw a division based in Florence, S.C., that had $100 million in annual sales, which is more than double the $42 million in revenues that Graham generated during its fiscal year that ended in March.

ESAB, which is one of the world's largest makers of welding and cutting equipment, is owned by British-based engineering company Charter Plc. Before joining ESAB, Johnson spent several years in management and executive positions at the ABB Group, including serving as general manager of its Distribution Transformer division from 1996 to 1999.

Johnson, who was an officer in the U.S. Navy's submarine fleet from 1985-90, also has a master's degree in business administration from Rollins College.

Cadena, who worked at Graham for 35 years, became Graham's president in 1997 and guided the company through a difficult period that saw its export markets wracked first by a financial crisis that swept through its key Asian markets and then the strong U.S. dollar.

In recent years, the company has been hurt by the U.S. recession, as well as declining demand for its big condensers caused by the steep decline in its important power generation market and, until recently, weakness within the petrochemical industry.

Cadena will serve as a consultant to the company over the next few years, Bidlack said.


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