The Board of Directors of Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) elected Douglas R. Oberhelman to the offices of Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer-Elect, effective January 1, 2010.
Oberhelman, 56, currently serves as Group President of Caterpillar with responsibility for the company's engine and gas turbine businesses, human services, rail services and remanufacturing divisions. As Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer-Elect, Oberhelman will take on the additional responsibilities of managing the leadership transition and updating the company's strategy.
Announcing the succession plan at this time allows Oberhelman to concentrate on aligning resources for the future and defining critical success factors for Caterpillar's leadership going forward. He will serve as Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer-Elect until the June 2010 Caterpillar Board of Directors meeting, at which time he will be elected Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors, succeeding James W. Owens, 63.
Owens will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer until July 1, 2010. He will remain as Chairman of the Board through October 31, 2010, when he will retire in accordance with the company's long-standing mandatory retirement policy and be succeeded by Oberhelman at that time.
"Jim informed us in 2008 that he was planning to retire in the fall of 2010 and has worked extensively with the Governance Committee and the Board of Directors over the last 12 months to develop a succession plan to smoothly transition the company into its next phase of executive leadership and to align the transition with the company's annual and long-term strategic planning cycles," said W. Frank Blount, Presiding Director and Chairman of the Governance Committee of Caterpillar's Board of Directors. "Jim has provided exceptional leadership to the company during its most significant period of growth and also during the most severe global economic recession since the 1930s."
Owens has given his full support to his successor.
"Doug has gained a broad understanding of Caterpillar's business through his diverse background, which has ranged from serving as our Chief Financial Officer, to focusing on operational excellence in Cat's engine manufacturing operations, to leading marketing efforts in the Americas," said Owens. "Doug's expertise in all critical facets of our business, combined with his international business experience in Asia and Latin America, and his relentless focus on execution and results make him uniquely qualified to lead Caterpillar in today's global economy."