After an international search that included 86 candidates, Canadian satellite equipment maker Com Dev International Inc. has decided to give interim CEO Mike Pley the job full-time.

Pley, appointed Sept. 1 to temporarily head the company when chief executive officer John Keating was dropped after the company lost $1.7 million in its third quarter, started with Cambridge, Ont.-based Com Dev as a design engineer in 1983. A company statement said the change at the top was made to improve the company's operational performance and profitability.

“We have been impressed with the decisive leadership Mike has shown since assuming the Interim CEO role,” board chairman Terry Reidel said in a statement Tuesday. “He has set a clear course for moving forward with a rigorous focus on profitability and the organization is responding. He has realigned the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of the executive management team, has flattened the reporting structure, and has been working with that team and the Board to review the strategies within each of the lines of business.”

Before being appointed interim CEO Pley was chief operating officer from 2008 to 2010. Before that he was president for seven years of COM DEV Space, the company’s core space business. 

With annual sales of $240.4 million for the fiscal year that ended Oct. 31, 2009, Com Dev makes subsystems that are bought by major satellite manufacturers. For example, last month the company it said had won the fifth in a series of contracts for switches and other components for a “North American military communications program.”

When he took over as interim CEO, Pley said the company was suffering from “several underperforming programs,” as well as reduced funding from Ottawa. As a result the company dropped some commercial electronics products and let 81 people go.

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