1989 Edgar S. Woolard
Edgar S. Woolard graduated from North Carolina State University in 1956 with an industrial engineering degree and took a job at DuPont’s Kinston, N.C., plant the next year. He quickly demonstrated an aptitude for management, and during the 1960s he held supervisory positions at Kinston, Wilmington and Old Hickory. As managing director of the Textile Marketing Division during the economic downturn of the mid-1970s, Woolard took a hard look at DuPont’s corporate performance.
His conclusion was that the company could no longer depend on big scientific breakthroughs and huge manufacturing facilities. Instead he focused on lowering costs and streamlining the production process. In the late 1970s, as general manager of Textile Fibers, Woolard worked closely with customers and suppliers in pursuit of more efficient textile manufacturing. After he was elected executive vice president and appointed to the Board of Directors in 1983, Woolard streamlined management and production in three other departments: Agricultural Chemicals, Photo Products and the Medical Division
Woolard was elected president and chief operating officer in 1987 and chief executive officer two years later, a period when DuPont faced economic recession, the loss of important markets to competitors, and a possible takeover. To streamline corporate decision making, Woolard eliminated the Executive Committee and directed department managers to report directly to the CEO. These measures cut corporate costs $3 billion between 1991 and 1994. Woolard also initiated DuPont’s joint venture with Merck Pharmaceutical and major investments in new agricultural chemicals. Woolard retired from DuPont in December 1995.