A. Schulman Inc. has picked a longtime executive with international experience to replace the Fairlawn polymer company’s president and chief executive when he retires at the end of the year.
Schulman announced Monday that Bernard Rzepka, 54, will take over as president and chief executive Jan. 1, after Joseph M. Gingo retires.
Gingo, 69, has led the company for 6½ years. He will continue as chairman of the board after his retirement Dec. 31, pending re-election as a director by shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in December.
Rzepka currently serves as executive vice president and chief executive — a role he assumed in April 2013 as part of the company’s succession planning for Gingo’s retirement.
Gingo said the company opted to announce the leadership transition now because of growing speculation among analysts and investors about leadership plans after his employment agreement ends this year.
“We thought it was appropriate to pre-announce so everybody knows we have an orderly transition in place,” he said. “We had a very rigorous succession planning process. We had several candidates; Bernard rose to the top of that group.”
Rzepka joined the company 22 years ago as project engineer in the research and development department at the Germany location and worked his way up the administrative ranks.
Rzepka, a native of Poland who grew up in Germany, oversaw Schulman’s European market before moving to the Akron area last year to take the chief operating officer position.
He said he plans to continue the growth plan that Gingo and the leadership team have pursued in recent years.
The goal is to increase annual revenue from the current $2.1 billion to $3.6 billion or $3.7 billion within five years, he said.
“We want to significantly grow the company,” he said.
Part of the strategy for growth continues to focus on acquisitions.
The company leaders said Schulman is on track to complete a previously announced acquisition of the majority of assets in Ferro’s Specialty Plastics business segment for $91 million.
Once the transaction is finalized in July or August, Schulman will employ about 3,800 in 42 locations worldwide, including about 150 in the Fairlawn headquarters and 350 throughout the Akron area.
Schulman shares closed Monday at $37.43, up 6 cents. The company’s stock was up nearly 44 percent from a year ago.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/CherylPowellABJ.