By Dan Christensen
The slow motion fall of embattled PBS&J boss John Zumwalt moved rapidly toward closure over the weekend with the announcement that he was replaced as company chairman and would soon resign.
Zumwalt’s ouster by PBS&J shareholders after five years as the company’s powerful chairman and chief executive officer was a surprise. His decision to leave on March 1 “for personal reasons” was an about-face.
Three weeks ago, Zumwalt informed employee-shareholders he would step down as day to day CEO later this year to spend “the coming months” developing PBSJ’s plans for future growth. He said nothing about giving up the chairman’s post, and had sought re-election to the board.
PBS&J is among Florida’s largest government contractors and donates heavily to political campaigns. In Broward, its highest profile job today is as co-leader of the design engineering team for the county’s $810 million runway expansion at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
PBS&J President Robert Paulsen, 57, was named to replace Zumwalt, 58. Paulsen, who joined PBS&J in 1986, will also become CEO while the executive search for a new, permanent CEO is underway, the announcement said.
“We are fortunate to have Bob, with his experience and steady influence, available to help us through this leadership transition,” said board member and chief operating officer Wayne J. Overman, according to a company press release.
Company spokeswoman Kathe Riley Jackson could not be reached for comment over the past two days.
The company has said it has alerted the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission to the possible wrongdoing.
Shares in PBS&J, which switched its corporate headquarters from South Florida to Tampa in 2007, are not publicly traded. The company is privately held by employee-shareholders. Currently, the company has about 3,800 employees.
Zumwalt’s ouster happened at the company’s annual meeting in Tampa on Saturday.
Sources said independent board director Frank Stasiowski resigned just before the meeting. He had also been a member of the company’s audit committee, which is investigating the possible criminality at the PBS&J International subsidiary.