For the first time in nearly 30 years, Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc. will be looking for a chief executive officer.

C. Scott Kulicke told the board of the Fort Washington maker of semiconductor-assembly equipment that he intended to retire at the end of June 2011, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kulicke, 60, has been CEO since 1980. If that sounds like a long time to helm just about any organization, let me put it this way: The Philadelphia Phillies have had 11 managers since then.
Shares of Kulicke & Soffa didn’t react much to the news last week. The stock closed at $5.10, down 2 cents on Friday.
But its shares have risen 259 percent over last 52 weeks, thanks to an improving business climate.
Like other manufacturers, Kulicke & Soffa experienced a steep decline in business during the recent global recession. Its fortunes depend on the health of computer-chip makers, who in turn were battered by weak business and consumer spending.
To conserve cash last winter, the company reduced the base salaries of its employees, including Scott Kulicke and the rest of management. Following an improvement in business conditions, the board restored the base salaries companywide as of September.
The clearest sign of that improvement came last month, when Kulicke & Soffa reported net income of $5.8 million, or 8 cents per share, for its fourth quarter ended Oct. 3 compared with a net loss of $4.6 million, or 9 cents per share, for the fourth quarter ended Sept. 27, 2008.
Quarterly revenue also rose for the first time in 11 quarters, to $110.5 million from $61.2 million.
What’s interesting is where its customers are. About 96 percent of net revenue for its fiscal year ended Sept. 27, 2008, were from shipments to technology companies located in the Asia/Pacific region and elsewhere outside the United States.
The company said the board will “promptly begin to identify possible successors,” including internal and external candidates.
Scott Kulicke’s father, Fred, started Kulicke & Soffa Manufacturing Co. with Al Soffa in Philadelphia in 1951 with $500 and a borrowed 1948 Plymouth Coupe, according to a history on the company’s Web site. (Fred Kulicke died Nov. 13; he was 91. Soffa was 84 when he died in 2005.)