Equipment & Technology, Mining and Heavy Industries, Staffing, Recruitment & Training

Caterpillar boss retires after tough few years

Photo: Caterpillar

After more than four decades at mining and bulk handling equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, chairman and chief executive officer Doug Oberhelman will retire.

The Illinois-based business announced on October 17 that Oberhelman, 63, will retire effective March 31, 2017.

He will be replaced in the CEO role by Caterpillar’s energy and transportation group president Jim Umpleby.

During his time as CEO Oberhelman led the 91-year-old company to its highest sales and revenue peak in 2012, but has also been criticised for overextending the business before the mining slump began, contributing to heftier profit declines since.

Oberhelman praised his employees for their work during the difficult stretch.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Oberhelman said he was leaving Caterpillar at a time when it was “stronger than ever, with product quality, power, technology and innovation that is the envy of our competitors”.

“The future is bright,” he concluded.

His successor, Umpleby, has worked with the business for 35 years, after joining its solar turbines subsidiary in 1980.

“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,” Umpleby said.

“I look forward to leading our dedicated team as we build upon the accomplishments of those that have come before us.”

Umpleby will take over Oberhelman’s CEO role. Replacing Oberhelman as executive chairman will be Dave Calhoun, who will assume the role of non-executive chairman.

Calhoun, currently a member of the Caterpillar board, is a senior managing director of private equity at multinational banking company Blackstone.

“Following a deliberate succession process, the Board confidently elected Jim [Umpleby] as Caterpillar’s next CEO,” Calhoun said.

“He reflects the best attributes of Caterpillar’s culture and leadership.

“I also want to compliment Doug [Oberhelman] for his outstanding leadership as Chairman and CEO, as the capstone to more than four decades of service.

“His leadership in the last four years has been remarkable as the company has successfully navigated an incredibly difficult cycle while positioning Caterpillar to take full advantage of the next upturn.”

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