Following a previously announced succession plan, the board of directors of Caterpillar Inc. last week elected Doug Oberhelman CEO and a member of Caterpillar's board of directors, effective July 1. Oberhelman succeeds Jim Owens as CEO, while Owens will remain chairman of the board until October 31, when he will retire after more than 38 years with the company. At that time, Oberhelman will replace Owens as chairman.
"One of the great strengths of Caterpillar is the depth of highly experienced executives who have risen within the company's ranks, allowing for a smooth transition of leadership, which supports the company's long-term strategy and year-to-year planning process," said W. Frank Blount, presiding director and chairman of the Governance Committee of Caterpillar's board of directors.
Since becoming chairman and CEO in 2004, Owens led Caterpillar through unprecedented growth from 2005 through 2008, followed by the global economic recession of 2009. During his tenure, employee safety and engagement scores improved dramatically. Owens also introduced Caterpillar's Vision 2020 strategy; implemented the Caterpillar Production System; championed both key capacity expansion projects and mergers and acquisitions; and invested heavily in key research and development initiatives. Owens has also been a leading voice promoting global issues such as the importance of free trade and, in 2009, was named a member of President Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
"Jim Owens has provided outstanding leadership for Caterpillar over the last six plus years, positioning the company for continued growth and leadership in the industries it serves," Blount added.
For the past six months, Oberhelman has been leading a team updating the company's Vision 2020 strategy, which was first introduced by Owens in 2005. The updated Vision 2020 strategy was unveiled last week to the company's employees, dealers, suppliers and shareholders, setting the stage for the next phase of the company's leadership and growth in the global industries it serves.
"As we build on our strategy from 2005 and communicate the direction and goals to our employees, dealers, suppliers and stockholders, it will become very clear that Caterpillar will be intensely focused on helping our customers succeed," Oberhelman said. "We'll be driving execution in key areas of the business that are critical to customers — quality, production capability and cost.
"From a stockholder perspective, our goals are focused on delivering total shareholder returns over the business cycle in the top 25 percent of the S&P 500. To do that, I believe we need to deliver compound annual earnings per share growth of 15 to 20 percent over the business cycle. Last year we introduced a 2012 goal of achieving $8 to $10 profit per share, and that's still our goal for 2012. That level of performance in 2012 is squarely on the path to delivering the growth that should place us in the top quartile of the S&P 500."
Headquartered in Peoria, Ill., Caterpillar Inc. had 2009 sales and revenues of $32.396 billion. It is a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines.