A.O. Smith exec named Entrepreneur of Year

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Milwaukee — Paul W. Jones, executive chairman of A. O. Smith Corporation, has been named the National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Distribution and Manufacturing Award winner.

Paul W. Jones_A. O. Smith Corporation_2910 copyThe EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award is the country’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award encourages entrepreneurial activity and recognizes leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses.

Jones was recognized for bringing the 139-year-old manufacturing company to the next level of innovative strategy, business approach and new service offerings. He was honored at the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards gala, the culminating event of the EY Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, Calif. The Forum is the nation’s premier gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. Awards were given in 10 additional categories.

The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges from more than 250 regional award recipients.

“Jones’ bold decision-making definitely impressed our judges,'” said Bryan Pearce, EY Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year. “Jones helped the company grow internationally both in China and India, which are now both highly successful ventures.”

Out with the old, in with the new

“When I joined the company, we needed to rationalize the acquisitions we made in order to put the company into a more efficient operation status,” said Jones. “Once our costs lowered in the marketplace, we were able to focus on bringing innovation back to the equation.”

A. O. Smith Corporation now holds the leading share of the water heater market in China and is on its way to becoming number one in India. When Jones joined A. O. Smith, the company was already in China, but only had an 8 percent share of the market – a number that’s grown to 25 percent today.

Growing internationally

As the last several years saw a downturn in the US housing industry, A. O. Smith Corporation had to grow its business outside of the country. “We’ve had to put an emphasis on China and India by highlighting our new products and technology in order to generate better returns for our shareholders, as well as growing in other countries,” Jones said.

With manufacturing operations in the US, Canada, Mexico, China, India and Europe, A. O. Smith has sales and distribution in more than 60 countries around the world.

Jones began his career with General Electric Company, spending 19 years in progressively more responsible positions in the Power Systems; Plastics; Drives, Motor and Generator; and Transportation units. From 1989 until 1998, he was president and chief executive officer of Greenfield Industries, Inc., of Augusta, Ga., a manufacturer of cutting tools and other material-removal products. Jones served as chairman and chief executive officer from 1998 until 2002 of US Can Company, Inc., of Lombard, Ill., a leading provider of containers for personal care, household, paint and industrial products.

Jones joined A. O. Smith in January 2004 as president and chief operating officer, responsible for all worldwide operations, and became chairman and CEO in January 2006. He was elected to the company’s Board of Directors in December 2004. Jones assumed the newly created position of executive chairman on Jan. 1, 2013. In this role, he chairs the company’s Board of Directors and is actively involved in strategy development, mergers and acquisitions, investor relations and management development.

National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Distribution and Manufacturing finalists

In addition to Jones, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Distribution and Manufacturing finalists in the US were: Gary M. Schuster, president and CEO, OMCO, based in Wickliffe, Ohio; Dr. Larry Sanders, president and CEO, Specialty Fertilizer Products, LLC, based in Leawood, Kans.; and Andra Rush, founder, president and CEO, The Rush Group, based in Detroit, Mich.

National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Overall Award winner

Hamid Moghadam of Prologis was named the National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Overall Award winner.

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