Pittsburgh — Jerry MacCleary walked into Building Four on the Pittsburgh campus of Bayer in 1979 as a young accountant.
At the end of 2019, he'll walk out of that same building as chairman and CEO of Bayer's Covestro LLC spinoff.
A lot happened in the 40 years that came in between.
"I've been working since seventh grade. I never really stopped," MacCleary said in a recent interview at Covestro's Pittsburgh headquarters. "But this is the right time.
"I'll miss the people," he added. "They've been my path to success and have treated me well."
Covestro LLC is the North American arm of Covestro AG, a global supplier of polycarbonate, polyurethanes and other materials based in Leverkusen, Germany. Covestro AG was spun off from Bayer AG in 2015. MacCleary was named president of the business — then known as Bayer MaterialScience LLC — in 2012 and has been Covestro LLC's CEO and chairman since 2018.
MacCleary's tenure at Covestro will conclude at the end of 2019. Covestro LLC President Haakan Jonsson, a 27-year company veteran, will take on MacCleary's chairman role in January.
In 1979, MacCleary had job offers from three Pittsburgh companies. He chose an accounting job with Mobay Chemical, which at the time was a Bayer unit. He soon wanted more of a challenge and was named assistant controller of the firm's plastics business. From there, he moved into sales.
Shortly after being assigned to Germany, MacCleary was called back to the U.S. to work with Bayer's polycarbonate films business, which was struggling at the time.
"We took PC films from a loss to a profit in three years," he said. "It was a good experience working with a small team. I'm proud of what we were able to do."
MacCleary was working with Bayer's North American PC unit in 1996 when the firm acquired the specialty styrenics business of Monsanto Co. There, he again worked to revive a struggling business.
"We faced challenges in manufacturing and market positioning," MacCleary said. "But we worked as a team and really dug into the process and learned how to maximize that business."