Doug Oberhelman

2015 Distinguished German-American of the Year™

On October 29, 2015.Mr. Doug Oberhelman, the Chairman and CEO of the leading global manufacturer of construction equipment and industrial engines, Caterpillar Inc., accepted the 2015 Distinguished German-American of the Year™ award. The award was be presented during our 29th Annual Award and Fundraising Gala at the Holeman Lounge and grand ballroom of the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The Press Club is known as “The Place Where News Happens” and has welcomed global leaders in government, politics, business, music, film and sport every day to meet with members of the press worldwide.

The award, which the GAHF has bestowed since 1987, provides national recognition for outstanding leadership, contributions and achievements by Americans of German-speaking ancestry in diverse areas of society, including business, science, politics, the arts and education. Mr. Oberhelman, whose German roots go back to the industrial region of Westphalia in northwestern Germany, was selected because of his outstanding leadership of Caterpillar, an icon of American industry, where he focused on accelerating the business cycles, implementing cost-efficiencies and expanding lean manufacturing practices. He has renewed the company’s promise to emphasize the customer’s position – a lesson learned from his father – and reinforced its dedication to quality, innovation and sustainability.

Mr. Oberhelman is a native of Illinois, and first joined Caterpillar in 1975 after graduating from Milkin University with a B.A. degree in finance. He has since worked in a wide variety of businesses across the company all over North America, South America and Asia. Under his leadership, Caterpillar also expanded into the German market by acquiring Motoren-Werke Mannheim Holding, which allows the company to play a bigger role in the rapidly growing sustainable power generation solutions market. Mr. Oberhelman also serves on the Board of Directors of Exxon Mobil and is a member of the Business Council. And, until last year had served as the Chair of the Board of the National Association of Manufacturers. His environmental and community service commitment is reflected through his vice presidency of the Wetlands America Trust, membership in the Nature Conservancy’s Latin American Conservation Council, and chairmanship of the board of trustees for the Easter Seals Foundation of Central Illinois.

He and his wife, Diane, live on a farm on the outer edges of Peoria County in Illinois.