Byline: Stuart Chirls

NEW YORK — Jerald Blumberg, executive vice president of DuPont and chairman of DuPont Europe, who led the turnaround of DuPont’s $7 billion global fiber business, is retiring, effective Dec. 31.
“It’s been a great run,” Blumberg said in a telephone interview. “We have gone through a lot of wrenching change, and now I feel that I’m still young enough and it’s time to do something else.” He added that after an extended vacation, he would probably look for opportunities to assist small businesses.
Blumberg’s successor to head both fibers and European operations is expected to be selected by early next week, a company spokesman said.
Blumberg, 57, joined DuPont in 1960 and held various production, sales, marketing and business management posts before being named senior vice president of fibers in 1992. He continued to oversee fibers after he was named executive vice president of DuPont and a member of the office of chief executive in 1995, and chairman of DuPont Europe in ’96.
Under Blumberg’s guidance, fibers was transformed from a struggling segment of the chemical giant’s portfolio that was frequently the subject of break-up rumors into a globally dominant performer. In the latest results from the third quarter, fibers recorded earnings of $238 million, up 13 percent from $206 million for the year-ago period, thanks in part to Dacron polyester, which posted the best quarter in its 43-year history.
“In ’92, none of the fiber businesses were as competitive as they needed to be,” Blumberg recalled.
“Now, they are highly competitive and growing.” The turnaround was not without pains, however, and Blumberg called the 1993 nylon unit restructuring that slashed $1 billion in costs “the most wrenching time” of his career.
Blumberg also sought to expand the fibers business through the acquisition of ICI Fibre’s nylon production, and through numerous joint ventures and foreign initiatives that included the construction of the first Dacron production facility in China.
He said a renewed emphasis on customer service was another key to the turnaround. “We had lost touch with our customers,” he said, “but I believe that we now have a greater focus on them than ever before.”

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