News | December 10, 1998

Kimberly-Clark Installs New Global Structure

Kimberly-Clark Corp. has implemented a new global organizational structure that creates three worldwide businesses: tissue, personal care, and health care/nonwovens. The move is intended to drive sales and earnings growth, improve efficiency, and increase the speed of bringing new products to market.

To manage its worldwide businesses, the company has formed three strategic leadership teams, each comprised of K-C business leaders from around the world. Each team will be accountable for development of global strategies to grow the company's businesses around the world. At the same time, its strong regional business organizations in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia/Pacific will continue to have profit responsibility for their regions, as well as increased responsibility for execution of global strategic plans.

Specifically, the global strategic leadership teams will be charged with developing and managing global plans for branding and product positioning, cost reductions, technology and R&D programs, and capacity and capital investment for their respective businesses.

Leaders of these teams will be Thomas Falk, group president-global tissue and Paper, Kathi Seifert, group president-global personal care products, and Robert Abernathy, group president-global health care/nonwovens. They will continue to report to Wayne Sanders, chairman and CEO of Kimberly-Clark. In addition, regional leaders in Europe, Asia, and Latin America will report to Sanders and be an important part of the worldwide strategic leadership teams.

"Harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of our strong regional businesses into global teams is one of the primary advantages of this new organizational structure," Sanders said. "This new structure will enable us to work together to maximize our competitive advantage around the world. Globalization efforts are already benefiting us in Europe, where Tom and Kathi have had oversight responsibility since March. With our business results in Europe improving, we are replacing our so-called 'swat team' approach to managing the region with the new global organizational structure. I am confident the European region, under the leadership of Robert van der Merwe, will continue to build on the benefits achieved in 1998.

"As we have seen in Europe, working together globally is an important step forward in our approach to branding, product development and asset efficiency," Sanders continued. "Equally important, the new organization will help us lower costs through more rapid transfer of best practices in manufacturing, logistics, and other areas."

To extend this globalization process into the sector organizations, the company is also creating global senior management teams for consumer tissue, away-from-home tissue, infant/child care, feminine/adult care, health care, and nonwovens. These six global teams also will be comprised of K-C business leaders from around the world who will support the initiatives of the global strategic leadership teams.

Leading these teams will be Steven Kalmanson, group president-family care and wet wipes in North America, Russell Taylor, president-away-from-home sector in North America, Dudley Lehman, group president-infant & child care in North America, Timothy Lehman, president-feminine care sector in North America, David Murray, president-health care sector, and Jerome Schwoerer, VP-nonwovens operations and engineering.

The company's world support group will assist both the strategic leadership teams and the global teams in accomplishing their objectives. The world support group will also be responsible for fostering excellence in such global functions as purchasing, logistics, finance, customer management, human resources and management information systems.

Other management changes

In addition to the above organizational changes, the company announced the promotion of two senior managers and the forthcoming retirement of its head of research and development. Juan Ernesto de Bedout, who was named president-Latin American operations, will report to Sanders and will continue to work closely with Claudio Gonzalez, chairman and CEO of Kimberly-Clark de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. "Because of Claudio's vast experience and enviable track record in the region, I have asked him to continue to provide leadership to our Latin American organization," Sanders said.

On January 1, Russell Taylor will be promoted to group president-North Atlantic away-from-home, and will have responsibility for both the North American and European away-from-home businesses. Kathleen Walters, president-away-from-home sector in Europe, will report to Taylor, who will continue to report to Falk.

Robert Underhill, senior VP of R&D, will become a senior technical executive on January 1 in advance of his planned retirement in mid-1999. In addition to his other responsibilities, Abernathy will assume overall management responsibility for corporate research and development effective January 1.

"In his more than 19 years with the company, Bob Underhill has done an outstanding job of leading our research team in its quest for new and better products," Sanders said. "On his watch, the company invented disposable training pants, created the leading brand of baby wipes, and expanded its share of the diaper, feminine care, incontinence care and facial tissue markets. As an early advocate for diversity management, he has been instrumental in the company's push to create a more diverse workforce. To facilitate a smooth transfer of responsibilities, Bob will remain a senior technical executive until his retirement."

To reflect the company's transformation into a global enterprise with a portfolio of strong consumer and health care brands, K-C will change its segment reporting beginning with the fourth quarter and year-end earnings release. The new segments (tissue, personal care, and health care/nonwovens) will comprise the businesses managed by Falk, Seifert, and Abernathy, respectively.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. is a leading global manufacturer of personal care, consumer tissue and away-from-home products. The company's global brands include Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex, Depend, Kleenex, Scott, Kimwipes and WypAll. Other brands well known outside the U.S. include Andrex, Scottex, Page, Popee, and Kimbies. Kimberly-Clark also is a major producer of professional health care products and premium business, correspondence and technical papers. The company has manufacturing operations in 39 countries and sells its products in more than 150 countries.

Newsletter Signup
Newsletter Signup
Get the latest industry news, insights, and analysis delivered to your inbox.
Join your peers