DowDuPont Inc. is making leadership changes as CEO Andrew Liveris prepares to step down, and the merged company prepares to spin itself into three separate firms in the future.
Liveris, 63, plans to step down next month as part of the changes. He has been at the helm of Dow Chemical Co. since 2004. Liveris will give up his executive chairmanship in April, and his role as director in July, when he officially retires.
Midland, Mich.-based Dow and DuPont Co. of Wilmington, Del., completed a merger in 2017, creating DowDuPont.
DowDuPont's Material Advisory Committee intends to appoint Jim Fitterling to the role of CEO of Dow Material Science Division — one of three companies to be created, which will go by the Dow corporate name. The materials company will include most of DowDuPont's plastics units and will be the largest of the three, with annual sales of more than $50 million.
Fitterling currently is chief operating officer of Dow DuPont. The committee also plans to make Howard Ungerleider president and chief financial officer of the division. Ungerleider, 49, is CFO of DowDuPont and vice chairman and CFO for Dow.
The changes will be effective upon completion of the division's split, expected in the first quarter of 2019.
Fitterling, 56, joined Dow in 1984 and worked in sales, marketing and supply chain positions before assuming a variety of leadership roles. His plastics experience within Dow includes time spent as business vice president for polyethylene and president of basic plastics.
With the appointment, Fitterling will become the first openly gay CEO of a major chemical company. He came out both to company employees and publicly in 2014.
Ungerleider started at Dow in 1990 and has held different leadership roles in commercial, business and financial functions. His plastics experience includes work with for several of Dow's specialty polyolefin brands, business director for wire and cable compounds and North American commercial vice president for basic plastics.
Liveris will be remembered as one of Dow's most colorful CEOs, often appearing on financial TV shows and enjoying the spotlight at the annual Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland. Liveris steered Dow through some turbulent times, including a battle with activist investor Daniel Loeb and his Third Point LLC investment firm in 2014.
Liveris also led Dow's $16.2 billion deal in 2008 for specialty chemicals and plastics maker Rohm & Haas. In 2011, he wrote “Make It in America: The Case for Re-Inventing the Economy.” In the book, Liveris — a native of Australia — spelled out the challenges facing American manufacturing and argued in favor of a national economic policy that would make it easier for manufacturing to thrive.
In 2017, DowDuPont posted total sales of just over $79.5 billion, up more than 12 percent vs. the prior year, even as annual profit tumbled almost 50 percent to just under $2.8 billion.
DowDuPont in September started production on a specialty PE resin unit and on a new ethylene unit in Freeport, Texas. The new unit will have annual production of almost 900 million pounds of Elite-brand enhanced PE.
The firm has several other plastics-related projects underway for 2018, including the additions of:
• 440 million pounds of capacity for Next Generation Nordel-brand metallocene EPDM for higher-margin applications.
• 275 million pounds of bi-modal gas phase PE via a debottlenecking to produce more material for high-performance pipe and fitting applications.
• 700 million pounds of high melt index polyolefin elastomers for high-performance flexible packaging, transportation and consumer markets.