Cat board of directors elects new CEO as Jim Owens retires

Following a previously announced succession plan, the Board of Directors of Caterpillar Inc. has elected Doug Oberhelman Chief Executive Officer (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 Oct. 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 successfully 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 last six months, Oberhelman has been leading a team updating the company’s Vision 2020 strategy, which was first introduced by Owens in 2005. The Caterpillar Board of Directors has been actively engaged with the management team in reviewing and supporting the 2011-2015 strategy. The company is now in the process of sharing the updated strategy with employees, suppliers, dealers and shareholders.

“I am confident Doug’s leadership, his deep expertise in all aspects of Caterpillar’s business and his acute focus on helping customers succeed will again result in Caterpillar’s performance rising to a new level of excellence,” Blount said in a written statement.