Milwaukee — Paul W. Jones, executive chairman of A. O. Smith Corporation has been named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 in the Midwest.
Jones was recognized in the industrial/distribution category. As a regional award winner, he will go on to compete at the national level. The national award recipients will be announced Nov. 16 as part of the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum ®, held in Palm Springs, Calif.
The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Collectively, the Midwest award recipients grew their companies’ revenues by 31 percent between 2010 and 2012.
Jones was one of three Wisconsin award recipients. Also recognized were Jim Sartori and Jess Schwager of the Sartori Company in Plymouth.
Under Jones’ leadership, A. O. Smith has made a successful transition to a global water company with 2012 sales of nearly $2.0 billion and net earnings of $234 million. The company’s profitable growth contributed to a five-year total return to shareholders of 196 percent as of Dec. 31, 2012, compared with the S & P 600’s return of 27 percent for the same period.
Jones was responsible for a number of strategic actions to transform the 139-year-old company into a business focused on hot water and clean water:
• Acquired GSW, Inc. and American Water Heater in 2006 which brought the addition of new brands as well as expanded retail business with Lowe’s;
• Expanded the company’s presence in China by growing its water heater business in that country and entering the water treatment industry with the 2009 acquisition of what is now known as A. O. Smith (Shanghai) Water Treatment Products Co., Ltd.;
• Entered the Indian residential water heater market and built a new plant in Bangalore in 2010;
• Acquired Lochinvar, LLC, a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency boilers and water heating equipment in 2011.
Jones joined A. O. Smith in 2004 as president and chief operating officer and was elected the eighth chairman and chief executive officer in the company’s history in 2006. He was named executive chairman on Jan. 1, 2013.
Jones also is the co-founder of the Milwaukee Water Council, a partnership of industry, education, and government that seeks to capitalize on the city’s unique strengths in the fresh water industry. Under Jones’s leadership, the Water Council has brought together more than 150 water-related companies in the region with key institutions, such as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences. One outcome is Milwaukee’s achieving the designation as a United Nations Global Compact City, recognized internationally as a center of freshwater expertise.
Now in its 27th year, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 140 cities in more than 50 countries throughout the world.
For more information, www.hotwater.com.