A battle in the executive suite at the Taylor Corp. has resulted in the departure of the founder's daughter, CEO Jean Taylor, according to a former human resources chief who also left.
The HR executive, Donna DiMenna, said she quit after three top male executives sought to oust her and also scale back Jean Taylor's role at the Eagan company founded by Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.
Glen Taylor nixed the coup attempt, DiMenna said, but also declined to sack the men behind it. That led her to resign about 10 days ago, and she said Jean Taylor walked out two days later.
No one at the privately held Taylor Corp. responded Tuesday to several requests for comment.
The Mankato Free Press reported last week, though, that Glen Taylor had issued a statement saying his daughter quit for personal reasons. It said they were both saddened by her decision, "especially given the strategic vision and leadership she has provided to the organization."
Jean Taylor had been an executive with the company since 1994 and its CEO since 2007. Glen Taylor, the company chairman, has stepped back in as CEO while he looks for a successor to his daughter.
DiMenna said in an interview Tuesday that she resigned from her human resources job "because of a lack of integrity" and values at the highest levels of the company.
She said the three male executives recently tried to get her fired along with two allies on the executive board, citing differences in strategy for the company.
DiMenna identified the executives who sought to oust her as Greg Jackson, chief administrative officer and general counsel; Steven Singer, executive vice president for strategic planning; and Ron Hoffmeyer, executive vice president for international marketing and Internet initiatives.
DiMenna said the men went after her and executive vice presidents Colleen Willhite and John Mattes. Willhite, a former 3M and Imation executive, oversaw operations. Mattes, a former executive with Liberty Enterprises and its successor, John H. Harland Co., oversaw mergers and acquisitions, according to the company's website.
Although the two other targeted executives, Willhite and Mattes, remain with the company, they were removed from the "executive leadership" page on the company's website, as was Jean Taylor.
Willhite, Mattes and Jean Taylor did not respond to requests for comment.
DiMenna said Jean Taylor was a "phenomenal leader and a visionary and she was making changes" to modernize the highly diversified Taylor Corp., which grew from a wedding business to encompass more than 85 companies involved in printing, multimedia, promotions, marketing, printed forms and technology.
According to DiMenna, who has a doctorate in psychology and worldwide experience in human resources management, the Taylor Corp.'s executive board had split into old guard and new guard camps.
She counted herself, Jean Taylor, Willhite and Mattes among those who were pushing for new and more efficient ways of doing business. She said Jean Taylor hired her two years ago in an attempt to change the company's culture.
"The truth of it is, culture eats strategy for breakfast. It takes years to change culture," DiMenna said. "So from the get-go, it was just pushing a rock uphill."
Asked for examples, DiMenna said, "Once I said to Greg Jackson, 'I think we need to find more women.' And he said, 'Oh my God! Don't you think we have enough?'"
She said out of 40 top leaders in the company, about seven are women.
DiMenna praised the company's employees for putting up with a dour working environment. She said some of the company's facilities are run-down and dirty, and it's left to them to fix the problems.
"So they would come in on the weekends and they would paint, you know, and they would pull up carpeting, just kind of amazing stuff," she said. "And it just kind of breaks my heart, actually."
DiMenna noted that Glen Taylor owns and operates a private company and he can do pretty much what he wants with it. "If you don't like it, you can leave, and that's what I did," she said.
Dan Browning • 612-673-4493