Oliver takes over at JCI, Molinaroli leaves early

George Oliver, president and chief operating officer of Johnson Controls, is to take over from Alex Molinaroli, its CEO and chairman on September 1. The change-over which had been announced a year ago takes place six months earlier than planned.

Oliver joined Johnson Controls through a reverse merger in September last year with Tyco, a global fire and security producer. Oliver had previously been president and chief operating officer of Tyco. Tyco was bought for $16.5 billion.

Oliver said: “Since completing the Tyco merger, we have been executing a robust integration plan to maximize the skill sets and capabilities of the combined company, develop solutions to better meet our customers’ needs and realize approximately $1 billion of cost savings.”

Jürgen Tinggren, a member of the executive committee, said: “Given the progress made on the merger integration as we approach the one-year anniversary and upcoming start of a new fiscal year, this is an appropriate time to implement this planned leadership succession.

“Accelerating the transition provides clarity and continuity as we move into the next phase and continue to deliver the benefits of the transaction and enhance long-term shareholder value.”

Tinggren has been appointed lead independent director of the Johnson Controls board, effective immediately.

Oliver has a substantial track record and was a major figure in making the merger happen. He was chief executive officer of Tyco and a board director from September 2012.

Oliver joined Tyco in July 2006 as president of Tyco Safety Products and assumed additional responsibility as president of Tyco Electrical & Metal Products from 2007 through to 2010. He was appointed president of Tyco Fire Protection in 2011. 

Before this Oliver had more than 20 years with General Electric, where he worked in operational jobs of increasing responsibility in several divisions. These included working as president and chief executive officer of GE Water and Process Technologies and president and chief executive officer of GE Engine Services.

Molinaroli has spent his working life with Johnson Controls. He joined the firm in 1983 and spent some 20 years in the building efficiency division before being appointed head of the power solutions business (effectively energy storage/batteries) in 2007.

Molinaroli, was particularly influential in focusing Johnson’s battery business on AGM batteries as a replacement to standard lead acid batteries.

Although initially sceptical about the uptake of EVs — early in his position as chairman he said he expected a mass market to only start in 2023 — the power solutions business became the first car supplier to begin mass production of lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles and later launched advanced lead-acid ‘start-stop’ batteries.

His last years were tinged on occasion with elements of controversy — an affair with a management consultant and an involvement with a fraudulent Ponzi scheme (where no wrongdoing against Molinaroli was found) — and clouded opinion about him.

Separately, Jeffrey Joerres has stepped down from the board of directors.