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Cummins Inc. Announces CEO Solso Retiring

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July 13, 2011 by   Leave a Comment

Cummins Inc. logoTim Solso, who steered Cummins Inc. through one of its most successful decades, will retire from the engine maker at the end of the year.

As reported by the Indianapolis Star, Solso, 64, will be succeeded by Tom Linebarger, Cummins’ president and COO, the company said Tuesday (July 12).

Since Solso was named chairman and CEO of Columbus, Ind.-based Cummins in 2000, annual sales have doubled to $13.2 billion, its stock price has soared from a low of $4.28 a share in 2002 to a high of $121.49 in May, and international business has surged from 40% of sales to more than 60%.

“Tim has led the company through many years of record performance and outstanding shareholder returns,” said Alexis Herman, lead director of Cummins’ board.

The switch at the top was hardly unexpected at Cummins, a publicly traded Fortune 500 company that has had only five chief executives in its 92-year history.

“It’s time for fresh eyes to take this company to the next level,” Solso said. “It’s a great time to make the change.”

Linebarger, 48, has worked closely with Solso since being named CFO in 2000 and president and COO three years ago. He said he’ll retain his office at the company’s headquarters in Columbus after taking the top job Jan. 1. Solso in recent years primarily worked out of Cummins’ downtown Indianapolis office.

Solso, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from DePauw University in Greencastle, began his 40-year career at Cummins as an assistant in the personnel office. He later moved to the operations side of the business and worked for Cummins abroad, including in England and Brazil.

Barron’s magazine named him to its list of the 30 most respected company CEOs this year and last.

Solso, who lives in Indianapolis, said he’s been too busy running Cummins to make retirement plans. But they won’t include running another business, he said. He said he’d consider community work involving education, the environment or “social justice type issues.”

Linebarger, who has master’s degrees in business and engineering from Stanford University, began at Cummins as an intern working on an engine line. He was hired full time in 1994 and worked his way up through management jobs on the engine side.

The incoming CEO said he sees his biggest challenge as coping with Cummins’ growth opportunities. The company projects its sales to grow more than 12 percent a year, driven by demand for its high-efficiency truck engines and other power systems in the U.S. and abroad.

“The company is doing very well and has a good team in place. He (Solso) felt I was ready to go . . . and the board felt I was ready to go,” Linebarger said.

Cummins’ growth means hundreds of new jobs coming to Columbus, where the company is expanding its headquarters and manufacturing lines.

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