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Cummins names Jennifer Rumsey as CEO to succeed Tom Linebarger

1st female and only 7th CEO in company’s 103-year history

Jennifer Rumsey will succeed Tom Linebarger as CEO of Cummins Inc. next month. She is the first female and only the seventh CEO in the engine maker and power distribution company’s 103-year history.

“I am the right leader for Cummins at this time,” Rumsey said in a news conference with Linebarger on Thursday. “I believe that my life and leadership has led me to this moment in time.”

It is a big job. Founded in 1919, Cummins (NYSE: CMI) produces diesel, natural gas, electric and hybrid powertrains as well as components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, batteries, electrified power systems, hydrogen generation and fuel cells.

The $24 billion company has 59,000 employees globally and a major presence in most world markets. It supplies engines to all major medium- and heavy-duty truck manufacturers. Cummins’ nascent New Power division challenges the longtime diesel engine maker’s identity.

Heir apparent at Cummins

Only the specific hour of Rumsey’s announcement was a surprise. She became president and chief operating officer in March 2021. In February, Rumsey joined Cummins’ board.

Rumsey, 48, was born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, the midsized Midwest city where Cummins is based. She attended Purdue University, a noted engineering school and worked at a fuel cell technology startup before joining Cummins 21 years ago.

“I knew Jen should be CEO before she knew she should be CEO,” Linebarger said. “She is a once-in-a-generation talent. You just don’t find people like her very much.”

He spoke with Rumsey two years ago about her following him as CEO.

“I told her about this day. ‘Remember there’s going to be a day when you get to be CEO and you’re going to stand in front of an audience in Columbus and you’re going to say, ‘I’m the first woman to be the CEO of this great company.’ And you’re going to say, ‘I’m from Columbus. I’m an engineer and I’m a woman and I stand for our future.’

“There’s not going to be a dry eye in the house.”

Succession planning part of Cummins’ DNA

Linebarger worked on succession planning from “the day after I took the job” 11 years ago.

“My boss did it for me and his boss did it for him. It’s something that’s part of this company’s DNA, and I was proud to learn it and be part of it.

“In all seriousness, making sure there is a good succession plan is the only way you can say you’ve left the company stronger than you found it,” he said. “You can’t leave a big pile and expect someone else to sort it out. “

Cummins' Tom Linebarger with multi-colored Planet 2050 visual behind him.
Tom Linebarger will stay on at Cummins Inc. as executive chairman when Jennifer Rumsey becomes CEO on Aug. 1. (Photo: Cummins)

Linebarger becomes executive chairman

Linebarger, 59, will stay on as executive chairman for an undetermined time. Among his tasks will be seeing through the $3.7 billion acquisition of Meritor Inc., a maker of heavy-duty truck components and axles. That includes the popular 14Xe axle that will help Cummins offer a fully integrated electric powertrain.

Pursuing the Destination Zero carbon reduction strategy she and Linebarger co-authored is a major goal, Rumsey said.

“We are living in a challenging period of time for our planet, our society, and it’s a really important time for Cummins,” Rumsey said. “Climate change is a real issue, and increasingly we’re living in a society that is divided and dealing with change. I believe this challenging period of time is the opportunity for us at Cummins to step up and shine, and we’ll do that.”

The road to sustainability means balancing new technology with improving current powertrains,” Linebarger said. 

“We can pine away for a future in 2035 where there’s charging stations everywhere, or we can just get on with lowering the carbon in the ones we have.”

Cummins will buy Meritor for $3.7B

103-year-old startup? Cummins New Power sector signals evolving identity

Cummins working with Hyliion on certifying natural gas engine

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.