National Education Names Acting Chief in Shake-Up

In a management shake-up just two days after it reported an unexpected $1.5-million second-quarter loss, National Education Corp. announced that a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been named to replace longtime top executive H. David Bright as chairman.

Gen. David C. Jones--chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 1978 to 1982--also will replace Bright as acting chief executive until a permanent CEO is found, according to a statement released by the Irvine-based company--the nation’s largest provider of educational training services.

Jones, 68, has served as a director of National Education since 1983.

National Education executives were unavailable for comment.


And Bright, reached at his home, hung up after stating that he had “no comment to make.”

During the past year, National Education has suffered a series of setbacks. On Monday, the company reported a $1.5-million loss for the quarter ended June 30, contrasted with a $7.6-million profit in the same period a year earlier. Revenue was down 8% to $96.6 million from $105 million.

The root of the problems, according to analysts, is the company’s largest subsidiary, Applied Learning International. National Education formed the company from several acquisitions it made in the mid-1980s. The goal was to become a major player in the corporate training industry, but numerous problems, including computer snafus and a disorganized sales staff, have stymied that effort.

Applied Learning’s president William Roach resigned last September after bitterly clashing with Bright over the direction of the firm.


Meanwhile, National Education’s core business--vocational schools--is suffering, too. Enrollments have been flat for most of the year, and the company is having to spend more on marketing to attract students.

Bright was hired in 1972 by company founder John J. McNaughton to help the company reverse a string of losses. He was successful in overhauling National Education and was named its chairman in 1988. Bright will remain a director of the company.

Although the management change was not announced until after the stock market closed Wednesday, National Education’s common shares--which took a drubbing Tuesday--rebounded a bit to close at $15, up 50 cents for the day in light trading. The stock had closed Tuesday at $14.50, down $2.25, with nearly 2.3 million shares changing hands.