Caterpillar chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman retires

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After more than 41 years with Caterpillar Inc., chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman has elected to retire, effective March 31, 2017.

During his time as chairman and CEO, Oberhelman (left) has reinvigorated the company’s focus on serving customers while also driving a culture of quality and safety. Oberhelman led the company to its highest sales and revenue peak in its 91-year history in 2012, and, since that time, has successfully led the company through the unprecedented downturn affecting its key industries.

“Our people have heard me say many times that my greatest responsibility as chairman and CEO is to manage Caterpillar for today and position the company and its future leaders for long-term success,” Oberhelman said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to lead this company, and I am confident in the choice of my successor, Jim Umpleby.”

“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. 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,” Oberhelman added.

The company’s board of directors elected Jim Umpleby (right), currently a Caterpillar Group President with responsibility for energy and transportation, to succeed Oberhelman as CEO. Umpleby, a 35-year veteran of the company, will join the Caterpillar board of directors and become CEO effective January 1, 2017.

“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.”

Upon Oberhelman’s retirement, Dave Calhoun (left), 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.

Ed Rust, former chairman and chief executive officer of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, 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.

“The board has a robust, best-in-class succession planning process for the critical roles of chairman of the board and chief executive officer, as well as other top executive positions. One of our top priorities as a board is developing a strong pipeline of senior leaders. Discussions are held throughout each year, and today’s announcement is the result of these ongoing and deliberate board discussions,” Rust said.

“I am certain Jim will continue the superb leadership that is the hallmark of Caterpillar in the years to come. I especially want to thank Doug for his strong and outstanding leadership of the company throughout his tenure, particularly in the last four years, when the global economic environment has created unprecedented challenges for Caterpillar. We wish Doug all of the best for a successful retirement following a distinguished and successful 41-year career.”

October 28, 2016

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Tom is editor of ivtinternational.com and iVT magazine. During his 20 year career in journalism Tom has worked for a diverse range of titles including Men's Health and Cosmopolitan. He also edits iVT's UKi Media & Events stablemate Traffic Technology International.

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