Longtime Nucor CEO steps down, company names former Arkansas exec as successor

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 2,350 views 

Nucor Corp., which has reported record sales and profits over the past 12 months, announced over the weekend that longtime company Chairman and CEO John J. Ferriola, 67, will retire on the last day of this year.

As part of the company’s succession plan, Nucor’s board of directors elected Leon Topalian, 51, a former general manager of the company’s northeast Arkansas operations, to be president and CEO, effective Sept. 5, 2019. He will later succeed Ferriola as CEO on Jan. 1, 2020.

“It has been a great privilege and honor to be a Nucor teammate for over 28 years and to serve as Nucor’s CEO for the past seven years,” said Ferriola. “One of my key priorities as CEO over the past several years has been to lead a robust and thoughtful succession process, and I believe now is the ideal time for me to transition Nucor’s leadership. I could not be more supportive of Leon as the next CEO. He has been an exceptional and proven leader throughout his 23-year career with Nucor, and I am confident in his selection as my successor. I look forward to working with Leon and the Board to ensure a smooth transition over the coming months.”

Ferriola has served as chairman since 2014 and as CEO and company director since 2013 and 2011, respectively. Previously, he served as president, COO, and in various other in executive positions since 2001.

Topalian had served as an Executive Vice President of Nucor from 2017 to 2019 and a vice president from 2013 to 2017. He has been employed by Nucor in various capacities since 1996, including serving as general manager at Nucor-Yamato Steel in Blytheville.

Incoming Nucor Steel CEO Leon Topalian.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to serve as Nucor’s next CEO and appreciate the confidence of the board and John Ferriola,” Topalian said. “John has provided us with strong leadership and vision, and I look forward to working with all 26,700 Nucor teammates to continue positioning Nucor as the industry leader.”

Earlier this year, Topalian led the planning and announcement of Nucor’s plans to build its new state-of-the-art steel plate mill in Brandenburg, Ky., located along the Ohio River southwest of Louisville. The Charlotte, N.C.-based industrial giant said it will invest around $1.35 billion to build the mill, which will be capable of producing 1.2 million tons per year of steel plate products.

In May 2018, Nucor Arkansas said it would invest $240 million in a new galvanizing line at its Hickman-based sheet mill. The new line will employ about 100 workers and will produce 500,000 tons each year.

Nucor jobs at the planned Arkansas mill will pay around $80,000 per year, company officials have said. That expansion is expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.

That announcement came right after the company opened a $230 million specialty cold mill in April 2018 at the same site, adding 100 jobs.

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