The board of directors of Finning International has named Scott Thomson president and CEO, replacing Mike Waites effective June 17. Thomson joins Finning from Talisman Energy where he was executive vice president and chief financial officer with responsibility for finance, tax, treasury, investor relations, marketing, business development and strategy, planning and performance management.

Thomson held several executive positions with Bell Canada Enterprises, and was a vice president at Goldman, Sachs and Co. previously.

The selection of a new CEO from outside Finning’s business was viewed as a surprise in some quarters.

“We debated whether we should go internal or external,” Finning board chairman and former CEO Doug Whitehead told a conference call. “We asked ourselves whether we needed a tough-minded grizzled veteran, or did we want a more modern, enlightened team leader. We asked ourselves again and again about how this would play out with the senior team, major customers, and, of course, Caterpillar. And we no doubt considered the shareholder needs.

“We felt strongly, coming off a five-year term CEO, Mike [Waites] made it very clear, when he took the job, that he would take it for five years. Coming off the five-year term, we were absolutely determined that we needed somebody who could go eight to 10 years in the role, and provide the continuity and stability that we needed.  We tried to stay true to the principle of the business issues, not personalities or other factors. We wanted the medium- to long-term strategy to drive the decision here. We think the broad strategy with its focus on mining, infrastructure, large and core equipment with high levels of product support, plus the focus of the emerging power systems business seems to be the right strategy, and the implications are we did not need somebody to come in and make radical strategic change. We felt we needed creativity and imagination to grow businesses like power systems and capture all the opportunities that will emerge.”

Finning is the world’s largest Caterpillar dealer. A major player in the equipment rental market, Finning is No. 10 on the new RER 100.