Business: Ballplayer's Tough Inning

1. (for Ignatius) John Billera recalls that when he became chief of U.S. Industries, Inc., in 1965, the conglomerate was so troubled that "we were just one step ahead of the sheriff." He brought prosperity by acquiring more than 100 small and medium-sized companies, in fields as diverse as mobile home manufacturing and secretarial training. Because Billera kept the old owners on as presidents of their companies, while he and the Manhattan staff controlled financing and planning, he called U.S.I. "a confederation of states." Lately, rebellion has been rumbling in some of those states.

Billera, an Italian immigrant's son who was...

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