Cat announces executive retirements, other changes

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Caterpillar Inc. announced Friday that two of its group presidents will retire and their replacements will come from the company’s vice president ranks. The moves were approved by Caterpillar’s board of directors.

Stu Levenick, 61, and Steve Wunning, 63, group presidents since 2004, will retire in early 2015, the company said. Levenick is responsible for customer and dealer support and Wunning heads the company’s resource industries.

"For the last 10 years, Stu and Steve have both provided critical leadership as part of Caterpillar's executive office, capping Caterpillar careers that together total nearly 80 years of service," said Caterpillar Chairman Doug Oberhelman. "We will all miss their outstanding leadership, and both leave unique and lasting legacies within Caterpillar, as the company has transformed itself and dramatically expanded to serve new markets and industries over the course of their distinguished careers.”

Current Group President Ed Rapp, 57, will take over Wunning’s responsibilities.

Tom Pellete, 51, currently a vice president of Caterpillar and president of subsidiary Solar Turbines Inc., was named group president responsible for the construction industries business currently headed by Rapp.

Rob Charter, 51, currently vice president in the excavation division, was named group president responsible for customer and dealer support.  

“In the coming years, I look forward to working with Rob, Tom and the rest of Caterpillar's leadership team as we continue our drive toward improving performance, growing the company, focusing on the customer and delivering our strategic goals over the next several years," Oberhelman said.

Regarding Levenick, Oberhelman said, "Caterpillar's independent dealer network is one of the company's key competitive advantages and I can't think of anyone who has done more to strengthen and deepen the relationship between Caterpillar and its global dealer network than Stu. Most recently, as the architect of our Across the Table dealer transformation, his strategic leadership has been instrumental in ensuring that the alignment between Caterpillar and its dealers will only grow stronger. In addition, Stu was the key executive that drove our acquisition and integration of Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi, the former joint venture in Japan that is now a fully integrated part of Caterpillar."

Levenick joined Caterpillar in 1977. After serving in positions in marketing, commercial management and product source planning, he became division manager in 1989, regional manager for Cat Asia Pte. Ltd. in Singapore in 1995 and general manager for company operations in the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1998. Prior to becoming group president, he was based in Tokyo as vice president responsible for Caterpillar's Asia Pacific Division and chairman of Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi Ltd.

Regarding Wunning, Oberhelman said, "In a Caterpillar career spanning 41 years of outstanding service, Steve played a crucial role in the development and success of Cat Logistics and our product support business. In addition, Steve's executive leadership and long-term vision was critical to Caterpillar's largest ever acquisition in 2011, the purchase of Bucyrus International. That acquisition positions Caterpillar with an unmatched industry-leading range of surface and underground mining products and solutions for global mining customers. It's no secret the mining industry has gone through a tough period the last couple years. In the face of that challenging environment, Steve has provided outstanding leadership and guidance for our global mining employees, dealers and customers, and his acute focus on cost management will have us ready for the mining upturn."

Since joining Caterpillar in 1973, Wunning had positions in manufacturing, quality, product support and logistics. Wunning was named vice president of Cat Logistics in 1990 and president in 1994. In 1998, he was named corporate vice president for the Logistics and Product Services Division. In 2000, he became vice president responsible for Cat Logistics, which combined all internal Caterpillar and external client logistics operations into a single unit.

Rapp’s change of responsibilities will take effect Jan. 1, 2015 and he will relocate from Singapore to Peoria.

"Ed has led the reinvigoration around the world of our construction business, which has resulted in improved profitability and performance in recent years," said Oberhelman. "He's also provided outstanding leadership in developing a strong core of local leaders across the Asia Pacific region, setting the stage for our future growth and success in that part of the world."

Rapp has been in Caterpillar's executive office since 2007, and he was group president and CFO from mid-2010 until 2013 when he assumed his current role.

Rob Charter, one of the new group presidents effective Jan. 1, “brings deep knowledge and experience working with our dealer network and is known within the company for his intense focus on helping Caterpillar customers be more successful with our products and services than they can be with any competitive offering," Oberhelman said.

Charter, a native of Australia, joined Caterpillar in 1989 as a development engineer. His diverse experience includes product management, service training, machine sales and service, mining product support, manufacturing, construction, quarry and forestry. In 2005, he was appointed southern region manager in Caterpillar's Latin America Division, then in 2008 he became vice president in the Asia Pacific distribution services division. He became vice president over the excavation division in January 2013.

Tom Pellette, currently head of Solar Turbines., a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar, becomes group president responsible for construction industries on Jan. 1.

"During his more than two decades with Solar, Tom has held senior leadership positions in Asia, Europe and North America, with half of his Caterpillar career spent outside of the United States. His demonstrated global perspective, drive for accountability and uncompromising product quality standards, combined with a strong customer focus will position him well to serve our construction business," Oberhelman said.

Since joining Solar in 1993, Pellette has held a range of sales, engineering and product support positions and gained experience in leadership positions in Europe, Asia and the U.S. In 2012 he was named a Caterpillar vice president and president of Solar Turbines.

All group presidents now will be located at Caterpillar headquarters in Peoria, the company said. "Over the last several years, Caterpillar based an EO member in Asia to intensify our focus on the region. We have three vice presidents in-region and a very strong senior local leadership team across Asia Pacific," said Oberhelman. "They will continue to build on the great progress we have made in building out our business model in China, fully integrating Cat Japan and building on our market position in the region," Oberhelman said.

Also on Friday Caterpillar announced changes in its vice president ranks.

After more than 35 years with the company, Steve Gosselin, 56, vice president for the customer services support division, will retire Feb. 1, 2015. He has been a vice president since 2002.

George Taylor, 53, will replace Gosselin as vice president. He is currently general manager for Caterpillar's Global On-Highway Truck group. Taylor, a native of Morton, joined Caterpillar in 1998 as a manager in the Strategic Business Planning group. He has been in his current role since 2006.

Pablo Koziner, 41, currently vice president in the Americas Distribution Services division, was named a corporate vice president and the new president of Solar Turbines, effective Jan. 1. Koziner, who grew up in Argentina, joined Caterpillar in 2001 as an attorney within the organization's Latin American Commercial Division. He was named to his current position in October 2013.

Phil Kelliher, 42, will replace Koziner as vice president in the Americas Distribution Services division. Kelliher, a native of Melbourne, Australia, joined Caterpillar in 1994 as a product specialist based in Melbourne. He has been a product manager in the Mining Products Division since 2013.   

Bob De Lange, 44, will replace Charter as vice president over the excavation division. A native of Belgium, he joined Caterpillar in 1993 and was named to his current position, worldwide product manager for the earthmoving division, in 2013.


About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).