Olivier Douliery | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jeff Immelt, then-chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric Co, speaks with an attendee during a meeting with President Donald Trump, not pictured, and manufacturing executives in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.
Members of President Donald Trump’s manufacturing council are making moves.
Without implying causation between any course of events, it’s true that a handful of the C-suite executives advising Trump on how to grow America’s manufacturing sector have recently announced departures from their posts.
The latest exit comes from General Electric, which announced on Monday that its CEO, Jeff Immelt, is stepping down, with GE Healthcare’s John Flannery taking over the leadership role later this year.
Just last month, Ford Motor confirmed it would be replacing its chief executive, Mark Fields, with Jim Hackett, who oversees the Ford subsidiary that works on autonomous vehicles.
In mid-April, Klaus Kleinfeld stepped down as chair and CEO of Arconic and resigned from the company’s board after he displayed “poor judgment,” the company said.
And then there was Mario Longhi, CEO of U.S. Steel, who stepped down from the company’s top job in early May. At the time, it remained uncertain if Longhi would stay on Trump’s manufacturing panel — the decision is being left up to the White House, he told CNBC.
Even before Trump moved into the White House, Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman announced he would be retiring at the start of the year, more than 41 years after he started with the heavy machinery company. Weakening demand for equipment used in the mining and energy sector had been weighing on Caterpillar’s business as Oberhelman stepped down.
If nothing else, these departures highlight just how difficult it is to survive and thrive in the manufacturing industry today, despite Trump’s praise of certain companies among this group and promises to pour money back into the sector.
Tesla’s Elon Musk brought the manufacturing group back into the spotlight at the beginning of June, when he announced his departure from three presidential councils. His decision stemmed from Trump’s decision that the U.S. will back out of the Paris climate accord, Musk tweeted.