3M Co. Chief Executive Officer George Buckley, whose contract expires in February 2012, said he has worked since his first day on the job to find a successor from inside the company.
"It was a self-imposed imperative to make sure that when I eventually retire from the company that the next person that was appointed would be an internal person," Buckley said yesterday in an interview. Any company should "aspire to train the vast majority of its managers and only in exceptional circumstances to bring in people from the outside."
Hiring from within would return St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M to its traditional succession practices. Buckley, who turns 65 as his contract ends, joined the company in 2005 after running boat maker Brunswick Corp., becoming only the second CEO recruited from outside 3M since its founding in 1902.
Directors have been evaluating internal candidates as the next chief executive, people familiar with the matter said last month, speaking on condition of anonymity because the details aren't public.
"I'm going to stay with the company as long as the board lets me," Buckley said in the interview in Las Vegas, where he was attending the Consumer Electronics Show. "We all, in the end, retire."
3M's lineup of thousands of products includes Post-It notes, dental implants and materials used in touch-screen computer applications, for which uses will be found in the home, in military and in retail, Buckley said.
Buckley steered 3M through the recession by slashing more than 6,000 jobs since the start of 2008, suspending merit-pay raises and freezing hiring.
The company's shares gained 12 percent through yesterday since his hiring was announced on Dec. 7, 2005, compared with a 1.5 percent advance for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.