"On behalf of the board, I extend our thanks to Michele. We appreciate his more than eight years of service to H.B. Fuller, the last four as president and chief executive officer," said Lee Mitau, chairman of the board. "During his tenure, Michele defined a new strategic direction, managed the company through the global recession, and led the company's recent investments in talent, customer facing organizations and technology. We wish Michele the best going forward.
"The board is pleased to appoint Jim Owens as president and chief executive officer," Mitau continued. "Owens has successfully managed the largest region of this company and his transition into the CEO role is a natural progression for him. His 24 years of industry experience, and a track record of proven results uniquely positions him to be successful. We're confident that in his new role the company will benefit greatly from his capabilities, knowledge and experience."
Owens, H.B. Fuller's senior vice president, Americas, joined the company in 2008. He has delivered two successive years of profit growth in Fuller's most profitable, North American business, has led the transformation of the company's Latin American businesses and has been instrumental in driving the growth agenda for the company worldwide.
Previously, Owens, 46, spent 22 years with National Starch's adhesives business, a division of ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries Limited) in a variety of management positions, including vice president and general manager, Europe/Middle East and Africa; corporate vice president and general manager of the North American adhesives business; business director for the pressure sensitive and laminating adhesives businesses; marketing manager; and technical services manager. Owens has served on the board of directors for the Adhesives and Sealants Council for the past seven years, most recently as chairman. He has a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware and a master's in business administration from the Wharton Business School.
"I'm honored, not only by the board's confidence, but also by the opportunity to lead a company with such incredible potential," Owens said. "H.B. Fuller has strong technology and market positions around the world combined with a solid financial base, an outstanding executive leadership team and thousands of remarkable employees. Our focus going forward will be to execute against the strategies that we have articulated and take advantage of worldwide growth opportunities to deliver a profitable return for our shareholders."