• Colgate generated $3.6 billion in sales from new products in 2000
• Total return to shareholders of 3,313% during his 17-year tenure is more than triple that of the S&P 500
PHOTO BY ANDY ROGERS/AP/WIDE WORLD
In a year of high-profile CEO dismissals, it's remarkable that the same man has been running Colgate-Palmolive Co. (CL ) since 1984. Experience working through previous slumps may have helped Reuben Mark, 62, keep the company on track. So has his relentless focus on developing new products and getting them to markets around the world with lightning speed. In 2000, Colgate pulled 38% of its revenues from goods launched in the past five years. That's up from 27% in 1996.
Despite a global recession that has battered rivals like Procter & Gamble (PG ) and Gillette Co. (G ), Colgate continues to outperform. In the September quarter, the company had earnings growth of 7.6%, compared with losses at its major competitors.
Mark avoids media interviews--the last thing he wants is too much personal attention--but he's happy to play the devoted CEO for his employees. Last summer he was spotted cheering for the Colgate softball team in New York's Riverside Park. Born in blue-collar Jersey City, N.J., Mark attended Vermont's Middlebury College and later earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. Today he lives in upscale Greenwich, Conn. In the past, he and his wife Arlene have spent many Saturdays tutoring kids in Manhattan as part of the "I Have a Dream" Foundation. At his urging, Colgate has gotten involved: It financed the rebuilding of a school in Harlem. There are not many CEOs who make the time for community volunteer work. And even fewer who don't want to talk about it when they do.