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Rzepka named to replace Gingo as A. Schulman's CEO

By: Frank Esposito

June 23, 2014

Joseph Gingo — who kick-started major changes at materials firm A. Schulman Inc. in the last seven years — will retire from his roles as president and CEO on Dec. 31.

Gingo, 69, will continue as the firm’s chairman. Longtime Schulman executive Bernard Rzepka will begin as president and CEO on Jan. 1.

Rzepka, 54, has been with Fairlawn, Ohio-based Schulman for 22 years and currently serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“This transition is the result of a rigorous, disciplined and multi-year succession planning process led by the board, and we are confident in Bernard’s leadership,” lead board director David Birney said in a June 23 news release. “On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to thank Joe for his seven years of successful leadership and transformation of the company.”

Under Gingo’s leadership, Schulman exited unprofitable businesses and grew by making nine acquisitions and forming three joint ventures. The firm spent about $520 million on those acquisitions, most recently agreeing to pay $91 million for most of Ferro Corp.’s specialty plastics assets.

Gingo had served on Schulman’s board since 2000 and had been with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for more than 40 years when he took the top job at Schulman on Jan. 1, 2008. Schulman’s annual sales bottomed out at $1.6 billion during its 2010 fiscal year, but have rebounded to $2.1 billion for fiscal 2013.

The firm’s earnings per share also have soared from 87 cents in fiscal 2007 to an expected $2.28 for fiscal 2014. On Wall Street, Schulman’s per-share stock price was near $22 when Gingo moved into the corner office, but was near $37.40 in early trading June 23, for an increase of almost 70 percent.

“It has been my privilege to serve as chairman, president and CEO of this great company for almost seven years,” Gingo said in the release. “I look forward to continuing to work with Bernard [Rzepka] through the remainder of this year as we transition the role of CEO to him.”

Rzepka added that Gingo “has transformed our company, and we built exceptional teams over the years.”

“I am honored to be chosen to lead A. Schulman, and together we will continue to execute on our strategy through our unwavering focus on safety, smart values and smart savings,” he said.

Schulman ranks as a leading compounder and concentrate maker both in North America and Europe. The 86-year-old firm employs 3,500 at 38 locations worldwide.