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This story appears in the December 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Al Weatherhead, 73, can recall perfectly the board meeting he attended a few years ago at which one of his directors demanded he get rid of a big chunk of his company. The distribution arm of Weatherhead Industries, Prodco & Ashland Municipal Supplies in Cleveland was earning only an 8 to 9 percent return on capital, in contrast with the benchmark 12 percent.

"It's necessary for you to take corrective action," the director said. "Sell the thing!"

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