CD&R initiates third leadership transition

Nate Sleeper will take over from Donald Gogel as chief executive on 1 January, with David Novak and Rick Schnall becoming co-presidents.

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice has new leadership on the way; Nate Sleeper will take over from current chief executive officer Donald Gogel, effective 1 January, 2020.

Gogel has been chief executive since 1998, having been appointed president in 1995. Following the retirement of co-founder Joseph Rice, in 2012 Gogel became chairman, a role he will continue to hold.

David Novak, who leads the firm’s European business from London, and Rick Schnall, who leads the healthcare investment vertical and growth investing activities, will become co-presidents, also effective 1 January.

David Wasserman, a senior partner who serves on the investment committee, will move into a senior advisor role from 1 January.

The moves are part of the firm’s “long-term leadership transition plan”, it said in a statement.

This is the third leadership transition for the firm, which was founded by Joseph Rice, Martin Dubilier and Eugene Clayton in 1978; the first was when Dubilier passed on the mantle to Rice in 1991. Clayton left the firm in 1985.

The latest succession planning was in the works since 2012 when Rice retired. Gogel embarked on a “listening tour” among partners and other stakeholders in the firm to present the new leadership structure and talk through any concerns, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Nate Sleeper

Sleeper joined CD&R in 2000 and leads its industrials practice. He has been involved in the firm’s investments in Atkore, Cornerstone Building Brands and Roofing Supply Group, HD Supply and US Foods, among others. Previously Sleeper worked in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs & Co. and Tiger Management.

Sleeper, Novak and Schnall will be part of a newly-formed executive committee, which will focus on firm governance-related issues. The three will remain on the firm’s investment committee, chaired by vice chairman Kevin Conway, and will continue in their investment roles, as well as working on firm-wide leadership and management issues.

The executive committee replaces the current management committee. There are no immediate plans to replace Wasserman on the investment committee, the source said.

The firm’s latest fund, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice X, closed on its hard-cap in 2017 just shy of $10 billion, having garnered more than $20 billion in demand.


Read our 2007 interview with David Gogel, in which he details CD&R’s commitment to the granularity of operational change.

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