Computer Automation Relocating : Cites Cost Cutting in Its Return to Irvine; Founder Resigning

Times Staff Writer

Computer Automation Inc. is moving back to Irvine, awash in red ink and minus its founder, who had criticized Orange County's business climate when the company left 3 1/2 years ago.

The company said it was closing its Boulder, Colo., headquarters to save money. The computer maker has had eight consecutive losing quarters and has lost $11.3 million in the past 2 1/2 years.

The company is considering other cost-cutting moves, according to Ira Robinson, the company's legal counsel. Options under study, he said, include the possible sale of one of the company's operations.

Company officials said that about half of the 27-member corporate staff would not make the move to Orange County, where it has maintained a 300-employee manufacturing plant. One of those staying behind is David H. Methvin, who founded Computer Automation 17 years ago.

When the company moved its corporate offices from Orange County in September, 1981, Methvin, its president and chief executive, said that California's "anti-business . . . leanings" and Orange County's smog, traffic and high housing costs were forcing companies to flee. "California used to be a nice place," Methvin said in late 1982. "But frankly I like Colorado better now."

Bowed Out on Monday

Methvin gave up his positions with the company Monday. In a prepared statement, Methvin said that he and the company's directors agreed that the major changes the firm needed to insure its survival were best handled by another executive.

George Pratt, a 14-year member of Computer Automation's board, has taken over as president and chief executive.

Pratt and Methvin, who agreed to serve the company as a consultant for one year, were unavailable for comment.

Robinson said that the company, which intends to hire an investment banking firm to help its internal study of possible cost-cutting moves, is holding preliminary discussions with the potential buyer of one of the company's operations. He declined to identify either the operation or the possible buyer.

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