Toyota Material Handling (TMH) announced today that Jeff Rufener, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), will retire at the end of the month. The company has selected Senior Vice President of Sales Bill Finerty to succeed Rufener effective January 1, 2022.
“On behalf of the entire Toyota family, we would like to thank Jeff for his leadership and impact during his 10 years with the company,” said Brett Wood, President and CEO of Toyota Material Handling North America and general manager of Toyota Industries Corporation. (TICO). “Jeff has led TMH through some of the biggest and most transformational challenges in history, and he has done so with grace, empathy and compassion. He took on every challenge and always saw the positive opportunity in change.
Rufener joined TMH in 2011 after more than 30 years with Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America. During his tenure at TMH, Rufener oversaw the move of the company’s headquarters from California to Indiana and the multiple expansions of the TMH campus in Indiana. Rufener also managed the integration of Toyota’s two Columbus-based companies – Toyota Material Handling USA (TMHU) and Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing (TIEM) – into one company in 2020.
During Rufener’s tenure, TICO made key strategic acquisitions such as Bastian Solutions and Vanderlande to enter the automation industry; Toyota Commercial Finance and Hoist expand Toyota’s heavy lift truck offering. Rufener also helped TMH complete its product offering with the launch of many new electric models.
Rufener has always been a respected leader in the material handling industry, having previously served as president of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) and first chair of the National Forklift Safety Day working group.
Rufener has also championed the company’s partnership with the American Red Cross and passionately helped it grow over the past few years, as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Southeastern Chapter of the ‘Indiana. Since 2018, TMH’s partnership with the Red Cross has resulted in support to businesses, dealers and associates which includes donations of rental equipment, time, expertise, money and, in in some cases, blood donation, as part of the growing relationship between the two organizations.
“One of Jeff’s lasting legacies will be the culture he helped create and maintain, a culture centered on the primary purpose of the business: ‘Helping people carry the load,’” said Wood. . “Toyota is better because of Jeff, and the material handling industry is better because of Jeff. We wish Jeff and his family a very relaxing, healthy and safe retirement. “
Rufener added, “It has been an honor to serve as President and CEO of TMH, and I would like to sincerely thank our associates, dealers, suppliers and customers whose hard work and dedication have enabled us to achieve big things. When I joined Toyota, I thought I had the best job in the forklift industry. Ten years later, I can tell you that I know this is the best job in the industry. This brand, this culture, this product line and this group of Toyota dealers – it all makes for the best job I can ask for. “
Finerty will take over from Rufener after more than five years as head of the company’s sales teams. As Senior Vice President of Sales, Finerty has also overseen the development of TMH’s customer and dealer network, and he chairs the board of directors of TMH’s equity-held dealerships and the Heavy Duty division of TMH. company. Finerty has over 30 years of involvement in the industry and previously held several leadership roles at Caterpillar, Inc.
“We did a thorough assessment that included leaders from TICO, and after that analysis we all agreed that Bill was the right person to lead the organization,” said Wood. “Bill has done an exceptional job leading Toyota’s sales teams to record success. His leadership style fits perfectly with our culture and he is passionate about helping Toyota succeed in everything we do. It will be difficult for anyone to replace Jeff, but I have no doubts that Bill is set to succeed in this role, and the transition will be smooth because we are promoting from within.
“I want to thank Jeff for his excellent leadership, mentorship and friendship, as well as Brett and TICO for their trust in me as I take on this role,” said Finerty. “I am honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to work with our talented team of associates and dealers to advance TMH’s growth strategy in the years to come.
Jaksa Pejnovic will succeed Finerty to become TMH’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, also effective January 1. Pejnovic has been with Toyota since 2013 and joined TMH’s management team in 2016 as Director of Finance, Pricing and Strategic Planning. Prior to joining TMH, Pejnovic spent 12 years with CNO Financial Group in a number of finance and accounting positions.
“Jaksa has been integral to Toyota’s success by leading the development and execution of our long-term strategy,” said Finerty. “I have no doubts that he will help deliver industry-leading results in this new role. “