Thomas F. Russell, who rose from office boy to chairman of the board of the Federal-Mogul Corporation, has led that company to financial growth and stability and has helped establish its dominant market share in many of the industries it serves. The company is a manufacturer and distributor of a variety of precision parts for the transportation, farm equipment, construction, manufacturing, and aerospace industries. Under Russell, the company established state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution facilities and introduced a work philosophy focused on employee involvement/participant management.
Following a four-year stint with the U.S. Army during World War II, the Detroit native rejoined the company as a cost accountant. He served in various accounting positions with the firm from 1946-67. In 1968 he became vice president and group manager in charge of aftermarket sales operations and also joined the company’s board of directors. He became president in 1972, chief executive officer in 1975 and assumed the role of chairman in 1976. Headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, Federal-Mogul is a Fortune 500 company, which employs 13,500 people worldwide.
Russell’s direction led the company out of a recession in the mid-1970s when shares dropped to a ten-year low of $5.87. One of Russell’s greatest aspirations was fulfilled in 1987 when company sales exceeded the $1 billion mark. Federal-Mogul stock hit an all-time high that year as well when it reached $49 a share.
Russell stressed throughout his career that a good manager must create an atmosphere in which employees are productive and yet receptive to strategies. He established a corporate-wide employee involvement and participation program to encourage support from all levels of the organization.