Charlotte-based steel maker Nucor Corp. on Friday announced the retirement of its chairman and chief executive, John Ferriola, and named a longtime executive as its incoming CEO.
Ferriola, 67, will retire on Dec. 31. Nucor’s board named Leon Topalian, 51, president and chief operating officer effective Thursday. Topalian will take over as CEO on Jan. 1.
Ferriola has been Nucor’s chief executive since 2013 and chairman since 2014, after serving in roles including president, chief operating officer, executive vice president and vice president. He joined Nucor in 1991 and has managed company operations in Texas, Nebraska and Indiana.
“One of my key priorities as CEO over the past several years has been to lead a robust and thoughtful succession process, and I believe now is the ideal time for me to transition Nucor’s leadership,” Ferriola said in a statement.
Ferriola praised Topalian as an “exceptional and proven leader” during a 23-year career with Nucor and predicted a smooth transition in leadership.
Topalian has served as a Nucor executive vice president since 2017 and vice president from 2013 to 2017.
He’s worked for the company since 1996 in capacities including project engineer and general manager of facilities in Arkansas and Illinois.
Ferriola “has provided us with strong leadership and vision, and I look forward to working with all 26,700 Nucor teammates to continue positioning Nucor as the industry leader,” Topalian said in a statement.
Nucor makes steel and steel products in the U.S. and Canada, and says it is North America’s largest recycler. The company reported net earnings of $386 million for the second quarter of 2019, down from $683 million a year earlier. The company is ranked at No. 120 on the Fortune 500 list this year, and had previously been ranked 151.
Ferriola earned $15.6 million in 2018, making his compensation the third-highest among Charlotte-area CEOs.
Nucor attributed the 28.7% raise from the previous year to his performance-based pay and record revenue, earnings and steel shipments in 2018.