Former Caterpillar chairman and CEO Glen Barton dies

Updated Oct 31, 2016

Caterpillar announced that its former chairman and chief executive officer, Glen Barton, has died at the age of 77. Barton had nearly 43 years of service with Caterpillar when he retired in 2004.

“The Caterpillar family is extremely saddened by Glen’s passing,” current Caterpillar chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman said in a company statement. “Glen’s legacy of leadership extends far beyond Caterpillar’s walls. His commitment to Peoria and our communities was remarkable. I’ll start with his Caterpillar leadership. He rose through the Caterpillar ranks, starting in 1961 as a college graduate trainee. Under his leadership, Caterpillar fully embraced 6 Sigma. It brought remarkable improvements throughout the company, including an intense focus on quality and safety. We continue that focus today, and 6 Sigma remains our foundation for continuous improvement. We are forever indebted to him for his commitment to making Caterpillar a stronger company.

“And just as important is his unprecedented generosity to the Peoria area,” Oberhelman adds. “Glen’s dedication and hard work will continue to leave a positive impact for many, many future generations. Together with his wife Polly, Glen was the epitome of philanthropic leaders. He was the driving force behind Quest Charter Academy and a tireless leader and supporter of the Peoria Zoo, the Peoria Playhouse, WTVP and Illinois Central College. Our deepest condolences are extended to Polly and the entire Barton family.”

Barton joined Caterpillar in 1961 and held numerous marketing and general management positions, including two tours with Caterpillar Overseas S.A. in Geneva, Switzerland, where he served in various marketing capacities from 1964 to 1968 and from 1972 to 1975, and as manager for South American Sales. In 1977, he became manager of the Merchandising Division General Offices, and then moved to Mentor, Ohio, in 1983 to become the U.S. sales and product support manager for the industrial lift truck division. From 1984 through 1986, he was manager of Products Control, and then was elected a vice president of Caterpillar and president of Solar Turbines Inc., a Caterpillar subsidiary in San Diego, Calif., in 1987. In 1989, he became executive vice president with responsibility for worldwide marketing, and became group president with responsibility for the design, development, and production of most of Caterpillar’s extensive line of forest, mining, and construction equipment in 1990. His responsibilities also included marketing and sales operations in North America, South America, Latin America, and Japan. He was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer on Feb. 1, 1999.

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Barton received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1961, where he served on the Dean’s Engineering Advisory Council, and completed the Stanford University Executive Program in 1977. He served on the boards of directors for Inco Ltd. and Newmont Mining Corp., was a global advisor to The Conference Board, and was a trustee of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Foundation. Barton also served as a member of the Business Roundtable, the Illinois Business Roundtable, and the U.S. President’s Export Council.

In 2012, Barton was recognized for helping pave the way for Cat’s leadership in the global mining industry with his induction into the National Mining Hall of Fame, where he is credited with the foresight to more heavily involve Caterpillar in mining: “Glen Barton’s passion changed the mining industry. His leadership made Caterpillar the world’s leading provider of mining equipment by creating the roots that support the organization today.”