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ORLANDO-Hoping to shore up a weakened bottom line and a leaner work force, locally based Hughes Supply Co. has hired two seasoned executives and promoted a five-year professional.

Tom Starnes, a 20-year former sales and marketing pro at Proctor & Gamble, Frito Lay and U.S. Office Products, is senior vice president, sales/marketing. John Steele, a former distribution specialist at Atlanta-based Genuine Parts Co., is vice president/operations. Laura Wright, director of human resources, moves up to vice president in the same division. All three report directly to Tom Morgan, president/CEO.

The personnel announcement follows the company’s layoffs of 40 staffers in early June from its 700-person work force. The 6% staff cuts were Hughes’ first layoffs since the 1991 recession.

The cuts followed the company’s disappointing fourth quarter performance when it lost $9.1 million or 39 cents per diluted share, its first quarterly loss in 10 years.

The company bounced back in the first quarter of this year that ended April 30, posting a net profit of $6.4 million on revenue of $775 million. That showing, however, was 55% under the $14.4 million in net income recorded in first quarter 2000.

Hughes’ common stock was trading on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday morning at $23.85 per share, up 20 cents from Monday, on volume of 127,000 and a price/earnings ratio of 14.72. The stock’s 52-week high-low is $24.05 and $13.22.

Hughes is a 73-year-old, family-founded and operated national wholesaler/distributor of 240,000 separate commercial/industrial building materials.

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