1967 Charles B. McCoy
As DuPont’s president and chairman in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Charles B. McCoy (1910-1995) initiated an extensive reorganization of the company designed to reverse declining profits and launch a host of new business ventures. The son of a DuPont vice president, McCoy earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia in 1930 and a master’s degree from MIT in 1932.
Despite this advanced education, the Depression-era job market led McCoy to start work as an operator’s assistant at a DuPont cellophane plant in Richmond, Va. McCoy’s skills soon led to a chemist position at a powder plant in New Jersey followed by a series of managerial duties in the Electrochemicals, Elastomer Chemicals and Explosives departments.
In 1967 McCoy was appointed DuPont’s president, and in 1972 he became the first man since 1919 to be company president and chairman simultaneously. Faced with declining profits and rising competition, McCoy set out a strategy of cutting costs and improving productivity while identifying new ventures with the most potential for profitability. He eliminated the Explosives and Electrochemicals departments and sold the company’s Corfam operations, an artificial leather venture that was a market failure. By eliminating inefficiency in production and cutting white-collar jobs, McCoy was able to reduce expenses by about $150 million per year. In an effort to remain competitive, he also slashed prices in the fibers, plastics and film markets and integrated backward into industrial chemicals.
McCoy identified three main areas for new growth at DuPont: electronic instruments, pharmaceuticals and building materials. As part of this strategy, DuPont acquired Berg Electronics, the analytical instruments division of Bell & Howell, and Endo Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company. By the time Charles McCoy stepped down from DuPont’s chairmanship in 1973, he had helped lay the groundwork for product diversification and market growth in the 1980s and 1990s.