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Caterpillar CEO set to retire in March

Caterpillar Inc. said today that chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman will retire at the end of next March.

Caterpillar Inc. said today that chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman will retire at the end of next March.

Caterpillar said Oberhelman has reinvigorated the company’s focus on serving customers while also driving a culture of quality and safety.

He led the company to its highest sales and revenue peak in its 91-year history in 2012, and since that time has successfully led Caterpillar through what the company said was an unprecedented downturn affecting its key industries.

“Our people have heard me say many times that my greatest responsibility as chairman and CEO is to manage Caterpillar for today and position the company and its future leaders for long-term success,” Oberhelman said in a statement. “It has been an honor and a privilege to lead this company, and I am confident in the choice of my successor, Jim Umpleby.”

“During the last four years, Caterpillar has faced unprecedented global economic conditions that have significantly impacted the industries served by our customers, as those industries and economic growth in many regions around the world have slowed or severely contracted.

“Faced with these challenges, our employees have responded like champions. We have improved our market position and grown our field population. Our product quality is at historically high levels, and I believe we are leading the industry in digital capabilities. I am confident that Caterpillar is stronger than ever, with product quality, power, technology and innovation that is the envy of our competitors. Add to that lean and agile manufacturing capabilities and an unrivaled global distribution channel. The future is bright.”

The company’s board elected Jim Umpleby, currently a Caterpillar Group president with responsibility for Energy and Transportation, to succeed Oberhelman as CEO. Umpleby, a 35-year veteran of the company, will join Caterpillar’s board and become CEO, effective Jan. 1.

He joined Solar Turbines Inc. in San Diego in 1980. Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial gas turbine systems.

Early in his career, Umpleby held numerous positions of increasing responsibility in engineering, manufacturing, sales, marketing and customer services, the company said. Umpleby lived in Asia from 1984 to 1990, with assignments in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The board elected Umpleby a Caterpillar vice president and president of Solar Turbines in 2010. He was named group president and a member of Caterpillar’s executive office in January 2013.

Oberhelman will remain executive chairman of Caterpillar until March 31, when he will retire. When he does, Dave Calhoun, a Caterpillar board member, will become non-executive chairman of the board. Calhoun is senior managing director and head of private equity portfolio operations of The Blackstone Group L.P.

Ed Rust, former chairman and CEO of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and currently presiding director of Caterpillar’s board, will remain on the board, but will no longer be presiding director once Calhoun becomes non-executive chairman.

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