Peter Breslin, who had been in charge of the Renfrew-based company for several years, resigned abruptly several weeks ago.
This came a number of weeks after former managing director David Maxwell, who owns 51% of Steel Engineering, had discovered that the company's financial position was considerably weaker than he thought.
Though the details are still emerging, Maxwell confirmed that the 91-year-old fabrication company will post a loss in the current financial year for the first time in a "good number of years".
The company has had to negotiate extensions to due debts with both its banker, Royal Bank of Scotland, and its landlord at the Westway industrial park at Renfrew, where only last year it hosted First Minister Alex Salmond to mark its expansion into nearly double its previous workspace.
Steel is also in negotiations with HM Revenue & Customs over a substantial outstanding tax bill. Redundancies had been confined to around six staff out of about 120, though fixed costs were not part of the problem.
Maxwell told the Sunday Herald that the past few weeks had been full of "long days and sleepless nights" after discovering that the company was in a "rapid financial downward spiral" during the summer.
He said the situation now looked to be improving, buoyed by winning contracts worth "six figures" in the past several weeks, including producing steel girders for a refurbishment of London Bridge in Southwark and infrastructure for the Drax coal power station in Yorkshire, plus the prospect of several larger contracts to be announced soon.
The news of the group's difficulties will come as a surprise to the renewables industry, where Steel has successfully positioned itself in recent years as being among the best placed to benefit from contracts to manufacture parts for offshore wind turbines and other marine devices.
Several years ago it pulled off a coup by being selected to make the steel base for Samsung's 7MW test turbine for the next generation of offshore wind farms, which is currently being erected at Methil in Fife.
If the South Korean conglomerate achieves its aim to make it one of the industry leaders, Steel could be in line to grow substantially from its current turnover of around £10 million.
Steel has also made two prototype "sea snake" wave turbines for Edinburgh developer Pelamis and supplied infrastructure for the Scottish Power/Vattenfall East Anglia offshore wind farm including meteorological masts, monopiles and platforms.
It announced several years ago that it received a £1.8m grant from the Scottish authorities towards a £3m project to create a private mini-port at Renfrew to increase capabilities.
Due to have been completed early last year, the project has been delayed but is expected to be finished in the next few months.
Steel also made headlines for spending £250,000 to set up an in-house skills training academy last year.
But like other Scottish fabricators which have seen the potential to grow on the back of renewables, Steel has suffered from cooling sentiment towards the renewables industry over the last couple of years in the UK and elsewhere.
Causes have included the financial slowdown and the UK Government's protracted and uncertain reforms of the sector.
As a result, Steel intends to tilt its focus more towards the oil and gas industry, where recent clients have included BP, Subsea 7 and the Hess Corporation.
In the financial year ended May 31, 2012, the last year for which figures are publicly available, it made a final profit of £4000 compared with a profit of £293,000 the year before.
In 2012, the company had debts of £1.2m compared to £2.1m the year before.
The remaining 49% of Steel Engineering is owned by estate agency H Allan & Son and its director, Hugh Allan.
Maxwell said: "In late July I realised that we were in a significant financial decline and had to come out of retirement to attempt to stem that decline.
"Mr Breslin resigned on September 10 and the situation has now steadied.
"With the grateful support of RBS and Scottish Enterprise, we will soon return to a more healthy position."
Breslin is an engineer by trade, although he is also the sole director of Enhance Hair Solutions salon in central Glasgow and lists his occupation on its company documents as "hairdresser".
He did not return calls from the Sunday Herald in time for publication.