Nynex embarks on a new road. (Company Profile)

Perhaps no major U.S. corporation has been as battered and bruised as Nynex has during the past several years. The company has weathered a string of allegations, charges and mistakes that Nynex readily admits have served as a wake-up call for company executives.

Running the gamut, the critisims have included allegations of poor management practices and charges by federal and state regulators that the company has engaged in overcharging. Accusations of other types of misbehaviour include involvement in throwing wild parties for business associates. Those parties, come "pervert conventions," made the front page of several national and regional newspapers, magazines and TV broadcasts, further tarnishing the company's image and still drawing snickers within the industry.

In addition, Nynex has had one of the worst labor/management relations of any of the Bell regional holding companies, coming through a bitter strike in 1989 that left many sears.

If all this were not enough, its New York Telephone subsidiary has been operating in a sometimes hostile regulatory climate with arguably one of the toughest public service commissions in the U.S.

And Nynex has made the record book, being the first and so far only RHC to be indived for criminal contempt of the Modified Final Judgment. The case went to trial this month and a verdict from U.S. District Judge Harold Greene could be forthcoming within a few weeks.

Smoother Sailing

Overall, however, the worst appears to be over and top managers have a number of positive developments to point to during the past 18 months that indicate things are indeed dramatically changing at the company and its subsidiaries. Those developments include a major reorganization and staff cuts designed to reduce costs and improve responsiveness; moves to make ethical behavior a top corporate priority; major and potentially long-lasting deals with labor and regulators that may put to rest some of the past bitterness and mistrust; and the planning and introduction of a range of new service offerings coupled with a greater customer-oriented approach to doing business.

As a result of these and other changes, Nynex could be in the running for the title of Comeback Kid of the 1990s.

Leading the comeback is Chairman and CEO William Ferguson, who has been stressing the need to face problems and criticisms squarely. During the past two years, the pace of change at the corporation has accelerated. But Ferguson said additional changes are inevitable during the coming years.

"If we said we were done, then we'd be saying that the marketplace is going to be static from here forward. It's not," Ferguson said during an interview this month with Telephony in Nynex's White Plains, N.Y., corporate office. "We still don't have our costs down where we want them. In some cases, our costs are not competitive."

Ferguson compared the situation that Nynex has faced to that confronted by a homeowner building an addition on a house. While working on the foundation for the new addition, the homeowner discovers that the foundation on the main house is deteriorating and needs shoring up.

"The basic strategy has been to face the problems and to put them behind us," said Ferguson. "We don't want to be fighting these same battles three years from now. …

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