General Electric CEOs: A short but notable list

Welch left a CEO legacy that has been tough to follow

General Electric, once one of the world's premier industrial giants, was built by just a handful of CEOs most of whom were groomed internally.

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However, in recent years, the 2008 financial crisis combined with a strategy that failed to produce results, has pushed the share price below $10.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
GEGENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY6.73+0.06+0.90%

During its prime, the company was known to be a key holding for "orphans and widows" because of its steady dividend. However, in October 2018 management was forced to slash it to one cent to conserve cash. Additionally, after over 110 years, the company was yanked from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2018.

FOX Business takes a look at the leaders that built GE up, those blamed for its demise, and the current CEO tasked with reviving the battered icon.

Jack Welch: 1981-2001

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 

The Massachusetts native joined GE in 1960 rising through the ranks to become CEO in 1981. Welch went on to catapult the company into one of the strongest industrial giants in the world.

According to a company bio, "In 1980, the year before Welch became CEO, GE recorded revenues of roughly $26.8 billion; in 2000, the year before he left, they were nearly $130 billion."

He also had a reputation for ruling with an iron fist with GE describing his management skills as "legendary."

Following his passing in March 2020 after an illness, President Trump praised Welch as a corporate professional and a friend. "There was no corporate leader like “neutron” Jack. He was my friend and supporter..." Trump tweeted.

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Jeff Immelt: 2001-2017

Jack Welch, Jeff Immelt

In 2001, Jeff Immelt, who once ran GE's Medical Systems business, beat out two of his colleagues for the coveted spot: Robert Nardelli, president and CEO of GE Power Systems, who went on to lead Home Depot and James McNerney, head of GE Aircraft Engines, who later led 3M and Boeing.

During his 16-year tenure as CEO, Immelt diversified the industrial company. For example, GE whittled down its finance arm, GE Capital, to become a simpler enterprise. It also sold its appliance unit to Chinese manufacturer Haier for $5.6 billion. At the same time, Immelt was pushing into areas such as the 'Internet of Things' and he also took a stake in oil giant Baker Hughes.

His strategy irked longtime investors who feared GE was becoming too complicated as the stock underperformed the S&P 500 for years. He was forced out in June 2017.

As FOX Business reported, before his death, Welch was on fire over the state of the company, while Nardelli told FOX Business he was "heartbroken" after GE was yanked from the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

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John Flannery: 2017-2018

GE insider John Flannery, who led a turnaround at GE Healthcare, became the company's 11th CEO following the resignation of Immelt. He officially took the helm that August. Despite the familial changing of the guard, Flannery was inheriting a basket of issues, including whether or not the company's generous dividend could be saved. It couldn't.

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On October 1, 2018, Flannery was booted, effective immediately, and was replaced by former Danaher CEO Lawrence Culp, who was also a GE board member. Culp won praise from several investors after the announcement.

Larry Culp: 2018-Present

Culp is  GE's 12th CEO and holds a "B.A. in Economics from Washington College and an MBA from Harvard Business School" according to his company bio.

While he is well respected on Wall Street say, shareholders, he too is facing challenges in reviving GE.

More recently, the fallout from the coronavirus has taken its toll, especially in the aviation unit. Speaking at a Bernstein conference in late May 2020, Culp warned that cash flow will be negative.

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