Amid the recent trouble faced by Caterpillar, or CAT, was news that their CEO of six years has announced that he is retiring at the end of the year. Doug Oberhelman, 63, has worked for the company for 35 years. He started working at CAT straight out of college in 1975 and worked up through the ranks. He was promoted in 1995 to vice president and was eventually promoted to CEO in 2010. He also serves on seven other boards ranging from non-profits to other companies. He led CAT to a profit record in 2012 after his aggressive acquisition of the competitor. It was expected that Oberhelman would leave soon because his predecessors generally retired at 65.
It is speculated that Oberhelman’s reason for retiring is his complete failure in overseas expansion. The aggressive tactics to expand into European and Asian markets was recognized as a failure earlier in the month. The failure was caused by a global crash in commodities and an extreme slowdown in Chinese markets. Though CAT is not the only company affected by this crash, their recent exposure to the foreign markets caused their risky and unstable investments to collapse.
The appointed successor to Oberhelman is Dave Calhoun. He is on the board of Nielson Holdings, General Electric and Blackstone Group. He is taking over at a critical time that could make or break the company in the future. CAT is facing a time of extreme uncertainty in their financials. Calhoun is inheriting a lot of problems but stands to become one of the greatest CEOs if he is able to pull CAT out of this hole they’ve been dug into.