HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL: Ron Culp, Sears Roebuck's VP of PR and government affairs, has announced his resignation after 10 years at the giant retailer.
Culp's last day at Sears will be February 28. He has put together a recommended list of executive search firms Sears can use in finding his replacement.
Bob Carr, Sears' director of corporate communications, has been named acting head of the department while the search proceeds, Culp said.
Carr has been at Sears for five years, joining the company as director of communications for its full-line stores.
Culp said he expects both internal and external candidates to be considered to replace him.
Culp is a rarity in corporate PR, having survived the transition from one Sears CEO to a second. PR heads often depart companies when the CEOs they have worked closely with leave.
Culp strongly denied a local Chicago media report that his departure comes as a result of a rift between him and current Sears CEO Alan Lacy.
Rather, Culp said his decision was prompted by his reaching the 10-year mark at Sears, and turning 55 this past December.
"I actually came here thinking I'd be here two to seven years - that's about average tenure in our business," he said.
Culp had contemplated leaving Sears five years ago, but then CEO Arthur Martinez convinced him to stay.
Now, though, "there's something magical when you turn 55," Culp said.
"If you're going to do something, you have to do it at this stage."
Culp already has begun work on a book about the history of PR at Sears.
He and his wife also have endowed a new program at their alma mater, Indiana State University, to prepare students for the business world.
Culp envisions the program as a series of workshops for seniors.
As for future full-time assignments, "I want to do something that's going to be fun, exciting, and maybe a little less 24-7 than this job," Culp said.
Matthew Gonring, VP of global marketing and communications at Rockwell, and a long-time friend and colleague of Culp's, said, "He has clearly accomplished a lot. He is a leader among leaders in the field of communications."
Culp has dealt with repeated crises at Sears during the past decade, but said none ever led him to contemplate leaving. "A crisis generally is an energizing event when you feel most needed and engaged," he said.