When Randall S. Dearth was named president and CEO of LANXESS Corp., he had quite a challenge on his hands. LANXESS was spun off from Bayer Group four years ago, so Bayer could better define their core business, namely material and life sciences.
At the time of the spin-off, 40 percent of the chemicals group, which is now known as LANXESS, was underperforming. Yet, under Dearth’s guidance, LANXESS not only turned it around and divested underperforming sections, but the company’s EBITDA grew from 7 percent in 2004 to 12 percent in 2006.
“The key to turning LANXESS around was ensuring that all of our business units were operating effectively and efficiently,” Dearth says. “Goals were set high, and we were able to see where we were being held down. Over the past four years, we divested underper-forming business and began growing both organically and through acquisition.”
Not only is the company thriving financially, but it also has an employee retention rate of 95 percent. That rate, along with Dearth’s overall success, should not come as a surprise, considering his rise through the ranks.
He was president and CEO of Bayer Chemicals Corp. since 2003, after joining Bayer in 1988 as a development chemist for automotive coatings. From 1993 to 1997, Dearth was on assignment in Germany, where he was responsible for market development in Europe and Asia. Upon returning to the United States, he managed the coatings and colorants resins business before being named director of the division’s monomers and adhesives business. Among other positions, he was also the head of the global powder coatings business group.
“Being a good leader means being able to keep employees motivated and on track, especially in times of uncertainty,” he says. “When we were spun out of Bayer four years ago, there was a lot of anxiety about starting something new. I knew I had to lead by example and greet the unknown with optimism and excitement, and I am grateful that everyone here followed suit.”
Yet, Dearth doesn’t lend all his energy to his business. He exemplifies a pacesetter by showing that a successful business strategy includes much more than just sound business decisions. It involves an environmental stew-ardship, a commitment to the community and a demonstration of good conduct, sound values and strong purpose in his actions.
He has helped the regional business community economically by traveling with Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to Europe with the mission to bring direct trans-Atlantic flights to Pittsburgh in efforts to aid international business growth in the region.
In November 2007, Dearth hosted the region’s first Chemical Industry Summit.
By bringing together chemical executives and legislators in southwestern Pennsylvania to explore legislative and regulatory initiatives for the chemical industry, they were able to identify workable solutions to the issues that are facing the industry and the region, including energy, security, climate change and rail transportation. The summit represented everything that is dynamic about the chemical industry landscape as Dearth and his peers focused on ways to keep the United States competitive in an industry that employs more than 1 million Americans.
Dearth impacted the community philanthropically by creating the LANXESS Xplore Science program where employees devote their time and resources to the educational community by demonstrating how science is cool and learning can be fun.
Culturally, he serves as the chairman of the Andy Warhol Museum board, where he had the vision to bring on factory workers young leaders in the city who work to bring new business and young people to the region through the Warhol Museum.
As a board member on the American Chemistry Council, Dearth has helped the community scientifically by being very active in recruiting chemists to the region and lobbying for new laws to bring additional natural gas to Pittsburgh. He also sits on the American Chemistry Council Board and the United Way of Allegheny County.
“Companies, including their leaders, are only as strong as the communities in which they serve,” he says. “Pittsburgh has been a great home to me and to LANXESS Corp. I want to be as involved as my schedule permits, and I want LANXESS Corp. employees to take an active role in their neighborhoods, as well. We just launched a Community Chemistry video where I got to see how employees in all of our U.S. locations give back to their communities. It was great testimony to our corporate citizenship.”
HOW TO REACH: LANXESS Corp., (800) 526-9377 or us.lanxess.com