President Bush on Monday nominated Carlos Gutierrez, a native of Cuba and now the chief executive officer of Kellogg Co., to be secretary of commerce.
If confirmed by the Senate, Gutierrez would succeed Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, a Texas confidant of Bush’s, who announced his resignation shortly after the Nov. 2 election. The president announced his selection at the White House, calling Gutierrez “a visionary executive” and “one of America’s most respected business leaders.”
Gutierrez, whose family fled Cuba in 1960 when he was 6, joined Kellogg in 1975. Known for having a strong work ethic and a seemingly endless stream of ideas, he worked all over the world for the company before being promoted to president and chief operating officer in June 1998.
“He learned English from a bellhop at a Miami hotel,” President Bush said in introducing Gutierrez at the White House. “Carlos will now carry on the work of a distinguished leader, Commerce Secretary Don Evans,” the president said.
He said that Gutierrez will be an “inspiration to millions of American men and women.”
“We never imagined that this country would give me this great opportunity,” Gutierrez told Bush. “I believe passionately in your leadership and the direction you’ve set.”
Economics adviser leaving
Gutierrez is the first new member of Bush’s economics team for his second term. Bush’s chief economics adviser, Stephen Friedman, announced last week that he is leaving. Other changes also are anticipated.
Treasury Secretary John Snow would like to stay.
Snow, 65, a former chief at railroad giant CSX, took over the job in early February 2003.
“The secretary views his service to the president as an honor and a privilege. Like all his Cabinet colleagues, he serves at the pleasure of the president,” Rob Nichols, a Treasury Department spokesman, said of Snow.
The White House said Bush appreciates the job Snow is doing but refused to say he would remain in his job. “I’m not going to get into talking about individual members of the Cabinet,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
Snow had replaced Paul O’Neill, who was fired by President Bush as part of a shakeup of the president’s economic team.
Looking ahead to his second term, Bush is already making changes to his current economics team. And, private economists say it is possible that could include a change at the Treasury post.
Last year, Gutierrez received about $7.4 million in total compensation, including salary, bonus and incentive payments, according to a Kellogg proxy statement. He owns or has option rights to 2 million shares of company stock.
Gutierrez, Kellogg’s CEO since April 1999, is credited with shaping a major corporate and marketing overhaul at Kellogg, narrowing the company’s primary focus to cereal and wholesome snacks and reducing the company’s debt.
He is known as a charismatic and approachable executive, widely admired in business circles for reviving a flagging company.
Under Gutierrez, Kellogg’s net sales rose from $6.2 billion in 1999 to $8.8 billion last year, a 43 percent increase. Earnings per share increased 131 percent, from 83 cents to $1.92, and cash flow went up 82 percent, from $529 million to $961 million.
A biography of Gutierrez on the company’s Web site notes that he joined Kellogg in 1975 as a sales representative in Mexico City. Following several sales and marketing assignments, he was promoted and transferred in 1982 to corporate headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., as supervisor, Latin American marketing services. The following year, he was promoted to international marketing services manager and, in 1984, he was promoted to general manager of Kellogg de Mexico. In January 1989, he was appointed president and chief executive officer of Kellogg Canada Inc.
Gutierrez returned to Battle Creek in January 1990 as corporate vice president, product development. He was promoted to vice president, Kellogg Company and executive vice president, sales and marketing, Kellogg USA in July 1990 and to executive vice president, Kellogg USA and general manager, Kellogg USA Cereal Division in 1993.
In 1994, Gutierrez was promoted to executive vice president of Kellogg Company and president, Kellogg Asia-Pacific. In 1996, he was named executive vice president, business development. In June 1998, he was appointed president and chief operating officer. In January 1999, he was elected to the company Board of Directors and, in April 1999, he was appointed president and chief executive officer.
Gutierrez studied business administration at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Queretaro, Mexico.