Saturday, May 15, 2010

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) CEO Jim Owens Retiring

Popular and effective Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) CEO Jim Owens will be retiring in June, and most industry observers say his legacy will be one where he is considered one of the best CEOs in the company's history, at this time considered only second to legendary Don Fites.

Owens was the successor of Fites, who successfully began the revamping of the company which most believe Owens finished.

The impressive performance of Caterpillar during the economic downturn was a testament to Owen's changes, which helped the company manage the cyclical business it is in, which under past performances outperformed in good times, but was clobbered in bad ones.

Other than one quarter where that had to take a big charge, the company was profitable throughout the downturn.

Owens changed that, and they're now considered better managers of the downside than the compay has ever been in its 85-year history, as Owens wasn't afraid to respond strongly and quickly to the economic challenges, cutting workers and his own pay to help battle it.

Even so, there will be work for incoming Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman, who will have to shore up the supply chain which has let the company down in some cases, as they've had numerous orders lost because their suppliers weren't able to meet demand.

Up to Owens, Caterpillar has only had 12 CEOs in the history of the company, and Oberhelman will be the 13th.

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