Former Caterpillar chairman Lee Morgan dies

By Chris Sleight28 January 2009

Lee Morgan, who was chairman and CEO of Caterpillar from 1977 to 1985 has died after a long illness. He was 89.

Mr Morgan joined Caterpillar in 1946, initially working in marketing and sales. In 1965 he became a vice president of the company, with responsibility for its engine production. In 1966 he was made a director of the company and a president in 1972. After retiring as chairman & CEO he remained a member of Caterpillar's board until 1992.

His eight-year tenure as chairman and CEO was at one of the most difficult times in Caterpillar's history, as it was forced to downsize and modernise in the face of intensifying competition and weak economic growth. It was a period that saw it close several factories, including two in the US and relations with the United Autoworkers Union (UAW) were strained as a result, with strikes in 1979 and 1982 to 1983. However it was also a period of expansion into new areas for Caterpillar.

The company established its Mexican subsidiary in Monterrey in 1980. The following year saw it form a leasing company, which was the forerunner of today's Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation.

The late 1970s and early 1980s also saw Caterpillar mover more seriously into the engine segment, with the opening of three factories in the US including a facility to remanufacture engine components. In 1981 Caterpillar also acquired Solar Turbines, a manufacturer of gas turbines.

As well as these achievements, Mr Morgan will be remembered as a strong advocate of free trade, a view shared by Caterpillar's current chairman and CEO, Jim Owens.

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