A.O. Smith names next CEO

A.O. Smith Corp. has announced Ajita G. Rajendra will become its new president and CEO beginning January 1. He currently serves as president and chief operating officer.

Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith has $2 billion in sales, 17 global water technology manufacturing operations and more than 10,500 employees.
Paul W. Jones will transition from chairman and CEO to executive chairman, a newly created role. He will continue to lead the board of directors and help with strategy, mergers and acquisitions, investor relations and leadership development.
“With our water technology strategy well under way, now is an appropriate time to transition the chief executive responsibilities to Ajita, who was actively involved in the development of this strategy,” Jones said. “In addition, he is well known and respected throughout the industry and is an outstanding business person with strategic vision and excellent execution skills. He is passionate about taking care of customers and delivering outstanding returns to our shareholders. Under his leadership, I am confident A. O. Smith will continue to grow and become one of the leading water technology companies in the world.”
Rajendra has more than 30 years of industry experience and has helped A.O. Smith double sales and increase profitability by more than five times. He was hired in February 2005 as president of the Water Products Company, which makes residential and commercial water heaters and boilers. In 2006, he was named an executive vice president. Rajendra became president and COO in August 2011 and was named to the board of directors in 2011.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Paul and me to further strengthen our company,” Rajendra said. “Both of us feel positive about the long-term outlook for A. O. Smith. I am committed to continue the current strategy, grow the business, and provide meaningful returns to our shareholders.”
Jones was hired as president and COO in January 2004 and was named to the board of directors in 2004. He became chairman and CEO in December 2005.
“Paul Jones has had a significant impact on our company by spearheading the strategic action of becoming a focused, global water technology company,” said Ronald D. Brown, lead director of the company. “He and his team have assembled an impressive list of accomplishments which have contributed to the company’s total shareholder return of nearly 10 times that of the S&P 500 over the past five years.
“The board views this important leadership transition as well planned and well executed. We’re fortunate to have Paul in a position to concentrate on the critical areas of identifying and pursuing acquisition candidates as well as enhancing the ‘bench strength’ of our executive ranks to support our growth aspirations.

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