IT was significant that former Cummins Inc. Chairman Tim Solso was chosen as a recipient of the 2013 Mitch Daniels Leadership Award, which carried the subtitled explanation, “For bold leadership that dramatically advanced Indiana.”
It had added significance in that the jury that chose him as the recipient included Randall Shepard, former chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court; former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan; former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar; and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton.
And then, consider that Solso is the first person to receive the statewide honor that in the future will be awarded every two years.
This singular achievement is tied directly to the amazing turnaround of the Columbus-based corporation under Solso and his leadership team.
Shortly after he was named chairman in 2000, Cummins was facing challenges on numerous fronts: The company carried a heavy debt load, its products did not enjoy the greatest reputation and a severe recession resulted in a quickly diminishing amount of cash that the company needed to pay bills, suppliers and
Solso and his team made some difficult decisions — embracing tougher emissions standards, for example — and led the engine maker to an unprecedented era of sales and profits. In 2011, Solso’s last year, Cummins’ profits of $1.85 billion exceeded the combined profits the company generated in the 50 years between 1953 and 2003.
But in addition to the business achievements of Solso, his team and the overall company, the award also recognizes a commitment to community involvement, the environment and diversity.
Cummins’ successes of the past decade have also been manifest in Columbus and the surrounding area. They set the stage for a dramatic expansion of the corporate complex, without which the revitalization of the downtown area would have been impossible.
That success also translated into an expanding commitment by the company to education at all levels from early childhood learning to post-secondary institutions. Through outright gifts to such projects as the Busy Bees Academy for early childhood learning and the IGrad partnership with the Columbus-Franklin branch of Ivy Tech Community College, the company has provided scores of local families with the keys to future success for themselves and their children.
Perhaps most gratifying to Solso, his legacy is being sustained by the current Cummins leadership, which has not only continued the company’s progressive march to success but has maintained a commitment to the community in which it is headquartered and to ethical principles that date to the company’s founding in 1919.