Cat’s Oberhelman To Retire, Umpleby Next CEO

By pdamon17 October 2016

October is the time of year when Caterpillar traditionally announces changes at its executive level. In some years, it’s little more than shifting seats between group presidents and other senior execs. But this year’s October announcement is a little different.

After more than 41 years with the company, Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman (top right) has elected to retire, effective March 31, 2017. He will be succeeded by Jim Umpleby, currently a Caterpillar group president with responsibility for Energy & Transportation, who was elected to the post by the Caterpillar board of directors.

In his time as chairman and CEO, Oberhelman led Caterpillar to its highest sales and revenue peak in its 91-year history in 2012, but since then, like the rest of the industry, has had to deal with declining revenues and business.

“During the last four years, Caterpillar has faced unprecedented global economic conditions that have significantly impacted the industries served by our customers, as those industries and economic growth in many regions around the world have slowed or severely contracted,” said Oberhelman. “Faced with these challenges, our employees have responded like champions.

“We have improved our market position and grown our field population. Our product quality is at historically high levels, and I believe we are leading the industry in digital capabilities. I am confident that Caterpillar is stronger than ever, with product quality, power, technology and innovation that is the envy of our competitors. Add to that lean and agile manufacturing capabilities and an unrivaled global distribution channel. The future is bright.”

Umpleby, a 35-year veteran of the company, will join the Caterpillar board and become CEO effective Jan. 1, 2017. He joined Solar Turbines Inc. in San Diego, California, in 1980. Early in his career, he held numerous positions of increasing responsibility in engineering, manufacturing, sales, marketing and customer services.

Umpleby (lower right) lived in Asia from 1984 to 1990, with assignments in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He became a Caterpillar vice president and president of Solar Turbines in 2010 and was named group president and a member of Caterpillar’s Executive Office in January 2013. A replacement for Umpleby will be announced at a later date.

“For more than 91 years, Caterpillar equipment has been renowned for its quality, durability, innovation and value,” Umpleby said. “I have been privileged to work with Caterpillar employees and dealers in supporting our customers as they develop the world’s infrastructure and improve standards of living and quality of life. I look forward to leading our dedicated team as we build upon the accomplishments of those that have come before us.”

Oberhelman will remain as executive chairman until March 31, 2017, when he will retire. Upon Oberhelman’s retirement, Dave Calhoun, a current member of the Caterpillar board, will assume the role of non-executive chairman of the board. Calhoun is senior managing director and head of private equity portfolio operations of The Blackstone Group L.P. In addition to his role with the Blackstone Group, he was previously executive chair of Nielsen Holdings N.V., served as chairman of the executive board and chief executive officer of The Nielsen Co. B.V., vice chairman of General Electric and president and CEO of GE Infrastructure. Calhoun has been a member of the Caterpillar board since 2011.

Ed Rust, former chairman and chief executive officer of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., and currently presiding director of the Caterpillar board, will remain on the board, but will no longer hold the title of presiding director once Calhoun assumes the role of non-executive chairman.

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