TOPICS > Economy

Kellogg CEO Nominated to Head Commerce Department

BY Admin  November 29, 2004 at 12:20 PM EST

The president said, ”With Carlos’ leadership, we’ll help more Americans, especially minorities and women, to start and grow their own small business. We’ll reduce the burden of junk lawsuits and regulations on our entrepreneurs.”

“We’ll reform our outdated tax code to eliminate needless paperwork and encourage savings, investment and growth. We will continue our commitment to free and fair trade.”

Gutierrez echoed the president’s call, saying he would work to ensure the continued growth of the U.S. economy and to improve the climate for both large and small business.

“Mr. President, I believe passionately in your vision of a 21st century where America is the best country in the world with which to do business. We have the best people, we have the training, we have the workers, we have the culture,” Gutierrez said.

In making the announcement, the president also emphasized Gutierrez’s personal biography and rise in one of America’s largest corporations.

“He understands the world of business, from the first rung on the ladder to the very top,” Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House.

Gutierrez told the president he was “humbled and honored” by his nomination and looked forward to helping guide U.S. business policy.

“We never imagined, Mr. President, never imagined that this country would give me this great opportunity and that you would have the confidence in me, sir,” he said.

Gutierrez was born in Havana, Cuba, but at the age of 6 fled with his parents to the United States following the 1960 revolution.

“I know Olga Gutierrez, who lives in Florida, is proud to see the boy she took from Cuba chosen to help strengthen the world’s greatest and finest economy,” President Bush said, adding he felt his new secretary would be an “inspiration to millions of American men and women.”

The Gutierrez family eventually settled in Mexico, where Carlos went on to study business administration at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Queretaro, Mexico, according to his official biography from the Kellogg Co.

He joined Kellogg in 1975 as a sales representative, selling and delivering cereal from a van in Mexico City. He rose through the ranks, eventually becoming general manager of Kellogg’s Mexican division.

Throughout the 1990s, Gutierrez took on larger roles in the leadership of the cereal corporation, becoming executive vice president in 1994, president and chief operating officer in 1998 and president and chief executive officer in 1999.

The announcement came as journalists continued to report on a possible major shake-up of the president’s economic team. On Monday, The Washington Post reported as many as four of the top five economic policy posts could be replaced in the coming months.

Mike Allen reported in the Post that the president wanted to reshape the Cabinet before launching several of his larger economic proposals, including major reforms to the Social Security and tax laws.

The man Gutierrez has been nominated to replace, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, and chief economic adviser Stephen Friedman have already said they would step down. Unnamed officials have also said it was likely Treasury Secretary John Snow could leave soon.

“One senior administration official said Treasury Secretary John W. Snow can stay as long as he wants, provided it is not very long,” Allen wrote.

On Monday, a Treasury spokesman refused to speculate about a possible departure by Snow, who joined the Cabinet in early 2003.

“The secretary views his service to the president as an honor and a privilege. Like all his Cabinet colleagues, he serves at the pleasure of the president,” Rob Nichols, a Treasury Department spokesman, said.