Charles F. Knight And David N. Farr, Emerson
General Electric Co.'s (GE) John F. Welch wasn't the only long-tenured corporate giant to announce his retirement last year. After 27 years at the helm of St. Louis-based electronics manufacturer Emerson (EMR) (formerly Emerson Electric Co.), Charles F. Knight stepped down as CEO in October. Knight won renown for keeping alive the company's remarkable record--43 straight years of earnings increases. When Knight took the top job in 1973, after a year as vice-chairman and a career at his father's consulting firm, he vowed not to break the the winning streak. "I was determined not to be second-string at anything in life," he says.
At Emerson, Knight became legendary for his quick temper. "If someone's not well prepared, he'll get torn apart," says Albert E. Suter, an Emerson executive. That's a trait employees won't have to worry about with the new boss, 45-year-old David N. Farr, the former chief operating officer. "He won't have quite as much temper as I have," Knight says of Farr. "I never made it personal, but sometimes it got carried away."
Knight will stay on at the company as chairman, but he'll have more time for one of his favorite hobbies: duck hunting. Given his record of hitting targets at Emerson, there ought to be a lot of nervous ducks in Missouri.