H.B. Fuller CEO Leaves, Replacement Named

A company spokesman said that just-departed CEO Michele Volpi and the company's board "reached a mutual decision to part ways." Jim Owens, who has been serving since 2008 as senior vice president of the Americas, has been named Volpi's successor.

H.B. Fuller Company said Monday that Jim Owens will succeed Michele Volpi, who on Friday stepped down from his roles as president, CEO, and a director.

Vadnais Heights-based H.B. Fuller didn't say in its news release why Volpi left or where his future plans are-and a company representative wouldn't say much more.

“All I know is that, as I understand it, the board and Michele Volpi had been working together and reached a mutual decision to part ways,” Human Resources Director Joel Hedberg, who's also serving as interim director of public relations, told Twin Cities Business Monday morning. When asked if Volpi's departure relates to the company's performance, Hedberg said the decision “has been more a question of evolution.”

Volpi joined H.B. Fuller in 2002 and took the helm in 2006.

Meanwhile, Owens, 46, has served as H.B. Fuller's senior vice president of the Americas since joining the company in 2008.

“Jim Owens was brought in by Mr. Volpi as a guy with deep industry experience, deep industry knowledge,” Hedberg said. “He has taken on our largest division and . . . he's had tremendous success. One of Michele Volpi's charges was 'develop a strong team.' The timing was just appropriate for the change.”

According to the Monday news release, Owens delivered two successive years of profit growth in Fuller's North American business, led a transformation of the company's Latin American businesses, and helped drive the company's worldwide “growth agenda.”

Prior to joining H.B. Fuller, Owens spent 22 years with National Starch's adhesives business, which was a division of Imperial Chemical Industries Limited (ICI). There, he served in a variety of management positions. Owens has served on the board of directors for the Adhesives and Sealants Council for the past seven years, most recently as chairman.

Hedberg said he is unsure what Volpi's plans are going forward. Volpi's last day at the company was Friday.

H.B. Chairman Lee Mitau said in a statement that the company appreciates Volpi's service, adding that, “During his tenure, Michele defined a new strategic direction, managed the company through the global recession, and led the company's recent investments in talent, customer facing organizations and technology. We wish Michele the best going forward.”

H.B. Fuller is among Minnesota's 30-largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $1.23 billion during the fiscal year that ended in November-down 11.3 percent from the previous fiscal year.