Dow Chemical Co. is rearranging its leadership structure by forming a new executive committee and naming business presidents.
The members of the executive committee were identified in a Sept. 4 news release from Midland, Mich.-based Dow. The committee includes Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris, who's been with Dow for 36 years and has served as CEO since 2004.
Here are other members joining Liveris:
Executive Vice President James Fitterling, 50, will have oversight of Performance Plastics — including polyethylene and elastomers — and feedstocks, as well as Dow's businesses in Asia and Latin America. Fitterling has been with Dow for 28 years.
Executive Vice President Joe Harlan, 53, will have oversight of chemicals, energy and Performance Materials — including polyurethane, epoxies, plastic additives and automotive systems. Harlan has been with Dow since 2011. His previous experience includes 10 years with 3M Corp. and 20 years with the General Electric Co., where he worked in plastics and other areas.
Executive Vice President Howard Ungerleider, 44, will have oversight of Advanced Materials, including coatings and infrastructure solutions and electronic and functional materials. Ungerleider has been with Dow for 22 years.
Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Bill Weideman, 58, will have oversight of finance, Dow AgroSciences and corporate development. Weideman has been with Dow for 36 years.
In the Sept. 4 news release, officials said the committee will set overall direction and strategy for Dow, monitor and deliver results, and optimize resource deployment across the businesses.
Five of the 13 business presidents named have oversight of plastics businesses. They are:
Diego Donoso, business president for Polyethylene and Packaging, including PE, specialty films and elastomers sold into packaging.
Kim Mink, business president for Elastomers and two other units.
David Blakemore, business president for Plastics Additives and two other units.
Glenn Wright, business president for Polyurethanes and Formulated Systems.
Pat Gottschalk, business president for Epoxy and Performance Monomers.
Liveris addressed the corporate management changes in a Sept. 5 news release, saying that “moving forward, we must accelerate our speed of commercialization, and significantly increase revenue and margin growth.”
“With less structure at the top of the company and more deployment and implementation in the markets, this is the optimal structure for the next phase of our strategy,” he added.
The business presidents will focus intensely on generating increased earnings, and accelerating the advancement and execution of Dow's strategy within their businesses, officials said in the release.
Dow ranks as one of the world's largest plastics and chemicals makers. In 2011, the firm posted sales of just under $60 billion, up almost 12 percent vs. 2010.
The first half of 2012 had its share of ups and down for Dow, both corporate-wide and in its plastics businesses. Total first-half sales fell 5 percent to $29.2 billion when compared to the year-ago period. Profit fell 28 percent to $1.3 billion in the same comparison.
Dow's two most plastics-heavy units — Performance Plastics and Performance Materials — generated 48 percent of Dow's sales and 50 percent of operating profit in the first half of 2012.
The firm also earlier this year selected Freeport, Texas, as the site of a new plant making ethylene, a key plastics feedstock. The cracker will be part of an overall investment of $4 billion in Dow's ethylene and propylene production in the Gulf Coast. The unit is expected to open in 2017 and will employ 2,000 at the peak of construction.
The new cracker will have annual ethylene capacity of 3.3 billion pounds and will employ 150 when fully operational. No increased polyethylene production has been announced as part of the expansion. Low prices for newfound supplies of natural gas in the region played a role in Dow's decision, since natural gas can be used to make ethane, which is then converted into ethylene. The Freeport complex already ranks as Dow's largest integrated manufacturing site worldwide and the largest single-company chemical complex in North America.
But a weak European economy also led Dow earlier this year to cut 900 jobs worldwide and close at least four plants making expanded polystyrene foam and polyurethane feedstocks. The closings will affect plants making Styrofoam-brand EPS foam in Charleston, Ill.; Estarreja, Portugal; and Balatonfuzfo, Hungary. Dow also will temporarily idle a Styrofoam plant in Terneuzen, Netherlands.
A plant making PU feedstock toluene diisocyanate in Camaçari, Brazil, will be closed as well. Unspecified consolidations also will affect Dow's global PU and epoxy businesses. The closings and cuts will be phased in over the next two years. The firm also will cancel several capital projects.