Oshkosh chief executive Charles Szews has decided to retire at the end of the year, the board of directors has appointed Wilson Jones, currently chief operating officer to take over from him on January 1 2016.
Szews, 59, joined Oshkosh in 1996 as chief financial officer, moved up to chief operating officer in 2007 and then took over from Bob Bohn at the start of 2011. He was instrumental in the acquisition of JLG in 2006 and served as interim president for JLG and managed the company through the transition from a publicly quoted company to being part of Oshkosh.
Wilson Jones has also served as president of JLG, taking over from Craig Paylor in May 2010, he managed JLG for two years before taking up his current post in June 2012. He joined Oshkosh in 2005 as the vice president and general manager of the airport products business unit and later became vice-president, sales and marketing for the fire and emergency group. In 2007, he was promoted to president of Pierce Manufacturing and to the position of executive vice-president of the Fire and Emergency segment in 2008.
Oshkosh chairman Richard Donnelly said: “The board of directors is very grateful for the strong leadership demonstrated by Charlie Szews through the last five years as he led the Company to successfully overcome significant U.S. Department of Defense spending reductions and the lingering effects of the Great Recession. During his career, Charlie led our Company through numerous historical milestones and contributed to the Company’s growth from $400 million in sales in 1996 to more than $6 billion expected in 2015. Most recently, he and the entire Oshkosh team worked fervently to win the revolutionary Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contract”.
“We expect the transition of Wilson Jones to chief executive to be seamless as Charlie and the board have been preparing for this for several years. Wilson has been with the Company for a decade, gaining greater leadership and business responsibilities, as well as successfully serving as president for two of Oshkosh’s business segments prior to his August 2012 appointment to president and chief operating officer.”
Szews added: “I have been honoured to lead this great company and our employees in providing vehicles and equipment that make a difference in our communities by saving lives and protecting people and property at work around the world. It has been a tremendous experience, and I have confidence that Wilson Jones will lead this company to higher levels of shareholder performance and customer satisfaction.”
It is good to see a proper succession plan at work, Oshkosh have a good track record in this regard, with the last change from Bohn to Szews seeming to work as smoothly as is possible. This latest one should work equally well, and it is good to see another Oshkosh chief executive who knows the JLG intimately.