Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith Corp. announced that executive chairman Paul Jones has decided to retire following the company’s annual shareholders meeting in April 2014.
The company’s board of directors has elected Ajita Rajendra as chairman. Rajendra will continue to serve as president and chief executive officer of the company. Jones will remain a member of the company’s board.
“Paul has been a visionary leader since joining A. O. Smith nearly 10 years ago,” said Bruce Smith, lead director for A.O. Smith. “He was instrumental in guiding the transformation of A. O. Smith into a global water technology company, a decision that lays the groundwork for accelerated growth in the future. He also has done a tremendous job of rewarding our shareholders.”
A.O. Smith’s net income increased from $46 million the year Jones joined the company to $234 million in 2012, and this highly profitable growth contributed to a total stock return of 521 percent since he became chief executive officer in December 2005.
“The board feels very confident about the company’s future with Ajita as our ninth chairman and chief executive officer,” Smith said. “He and Paul have worked together nearly nine years in shaping the company’s strategy. He has proven to be a dynamic leader and strong executive with an in-depth grasp of our business, our customers, and the industries we serve.”