PulteGroup switches CEOs, ending boardroom fight

Atlanta-based homebuilder PulteGroup has named a new chief executive officer, in an apparent victory for a major shareholder who has been unhappy with the company’s performance.

PulteGroup said Ryan Marshall was promoted from president to CEO effective immediately. He replaces Richard Dugas, who had previously said he would retire next year. Dugas will remain executive chairman of the board through next year’s shareholder meeting.

William Pulte, the company’s founder, ex-CEO and largest individual shareholder, had complained noisily in recent months about PulteGroup’s relatively poor performance as the housing industry rebounded.

He had criticized Dugas’ strategies, which included the company’s 2013 decision to move its headquarters from Detroit to Atlanta. Under pressure, Dugas last spring announced plans to retire in 2017, but Pulte repeatedly called for the company to make a CEO switch sooner.

Marshall, 41, has been with the company for about 15 years.

“After a thorough evaluation of internal and external candidates, the Board determined that Ryan was clearly the best-qualified person to lead PulteGroup as it continues to implement its Value Creation strategy,” said Patrick J. O’Leary, leader of the independent five member CEO search committee of the PulteGroup Board.

“Over his more than 15 year career at PulteGroup, Ryan has proven to be an outstanding leader with demonstrated success in managing homebuilding operations through all stages of the housing cycle.”

PulteGroup also appointed Pulte’s grandson, William “Bill” Pulte, to the board of directors. He had been involved with his grandfather’s efforts to force a leadership change.