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Cree, Inc. reported that CEO Chuck Swoboda, company chairman, president, and CEO will step down from his executive positions and his membership of the board of directors. However, Mr. Swoboda plans to stay at the company until the board appoints a successor. Afterward, he will serve as a consultant to assure a seamless transition of leadership. The board of directors plans to hire an executive search firm to identify a successor either from within the company or externally.
Mr. Sowboda joined Cree in 1993, and he has held numerous executive positions at the company since then. He reportedly led Cree from being a near start-up to becoming an LED lighting technology market leader. The company now employs 6,400 people worldwide.
Since 2000, Mr. Swoboda has served as a member of the Cree board of directors, and since 2001 he has served as CEO. In 2005 he was appointed the chairman of the board. In his time as CEO and board chairman, Swoboda has received numerous accolades for his company leadership.
In 2010, Mr. Swoboda was recognized as Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Carolinas. Then, in 2013, he was named The Edison Report’s Lighting Industry Person of the Year.
Also while under his leadership Cree gained much recognition in the technology world including being named one of MIT Technology Review’s 50 Smartest Companies for 2014, and Cree was also chosen to be one of Fast Company’s World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2015.
In recent years, Cree like other LED makers has faced tremendous price competition from LED makers worldwide. The competition has been hard on both revenues and stock prices. However, Mr. Swoboda indicated that his choice to step down is (at least partially) a personal one.
Mr. Swoboda stated, “I have had the privilege of leading Cree for 16 years, which has been extremely rewarding both professionally and personally. My decision to change my work-life balance follows a recent medical issue, which was resolved, and which caused me to reevaluate my priorities.”
Mr. Swoboda also indicated that the timing of him moving on is partly related to the strong market position of Cree’s core businesses. Mr. Swoboda added, “I believe that this is a good transition time for Cree as we have three core businesses poised to enter another phase of accelerated growth.”
He expressed his optimism in Cree’s future under his successor. “I know that under its next CEO, Cree will continue to disrupt markets with new technologies and superior-performing products that deliver great value to our customers while consuming less energy. I look forward to working with the Cree Board to find the right leader and to ensure a smooth handoff to my successor.”