3Com's Claflin To Retire; Search Is On For Successor

Claflin will participate in the search for his successor and plans to retire after a replacement is hired, according to a company statement. He has also offered to act as an adviser to the new executive and to the 3Com board for six months after his successor is appointed in order to ease the transition, 3Com said.

Claflin joined 3Com in 1998 as president and COO and was named CEO in 2001. He is also a 3Com board member.

A 3Com spokesman downplayed a report that health concerns played a major role in Claflin&'s decision to retire. “Bruce assured everyone in public conversations and in private conversations that it is not due to health reasons,” the spokesman said. “He set this plan in place awhile ago.” Claflin underwent surgery in 2003 to remove a benign tumor from his inner ear.

During his tenure as the Marlborough, Mass.-based company&'s CEO, Claflin worked to help 3Com recover from its exit from the enterprise space in 2000, a move that solution providers have blamed for damaging both partner and customer relationships.

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Subsequently, Claflin has spearheaded the vendor&'s quest to re-enter the market through a joint venture with Chinese networking vendor Huawei Technologies in 2003 and its acquisition last year of security vendor TippingPoint, Austin, Texas.

“The foundation he leaves is solidly built,” said Gerald Waldrop, general manager of CWPS, a 3Com solution provider based in Chantilly, Va. “The product lines and business partnerships he put together are going to give 3Com the platform they need to have a higher sales line and a profitable company.”

3Com recently began putting more muscle behind its marketing efforts, a strategy solution providers said could benefit from new leadership.

“I hope they can find someone to keep them moving forward because they don&'t have a lot of room to go back,” said John Lowery, CEO of Intelesys, a solution provider in Madison Heights, Mich.

“We&'re getting good reception on the product suites, and we can see them being more active [in marketing], something 3Com has never been known for,” Lowery said.