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North Charleston chemical maker Ingevity Corp. names a new CEO

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Ingevity (copy)

Ingevity's old headquarters (background) were across from its Virginia Avenue plant (foreground). The chemical company recently moved its corporate offices to the Park Circle area of North Charleston. File/Provided

North Charleston-based chemical maker Ingevity Corp. has promoted its top finance executive to CEO and president in a move that takes effect Sept. 1.

John C. Fortson also will join the company's board of directors. Currently, he is executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer. Fortson will remain in those roles until a permanent replacement is hired.

His promotion caps a six-month search. 

“John presented the board with a compelling vision and strategy for ‘Ingevity 2.0,’ based on his familiarity with the company and its unique culture,” said Rick Kelson, chairman and interim CEO. “His business acumen and credibility with capital markets, combined with his innate leadership skills, make John an ideal selection for Ingevity’s next CEO.”

The company has been without a permanent chief executive officer since February, when it announced that D. Michael Wilson was ousted over undisclosed "matters related to his personal conduct."

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Fortson, a West Point graduate and former Army infantry officer, has been with the global chemical manufacturer since October 2015. Previously he was finance chief at AAR Corp. and an investment banker at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He has a master's degree in business administration from Duke University.

John Fortson

John Fortson is being promoted to president and CEO of North Charleston-based Ingevity Corp., effective Sept. 1. Provided/Ingevity Corp.

Fortson said in a prepared statement that Ingevity will stick to its strategy and "focus on sustainability, customer centricity and innovation to drive growth. It’s a new day for the company, and we’re ready to get to it.”

Ingevity is one of South Carolina's largest publicly traded companies, with a stock market value of about $2.5 billion as of Monday. It was started decades ago as the chemical division within MeadWestvaco Corp. and was spun off as an independent business about five years ago.

The manufacturer, which recently moved its global headquarters from Virginia Avenue to a new office building on O'Hear Avenue near Park Circle, has 25 locations around the world and employs about 1,850 workers.

In June, Ingevity announced plans to eliminate an undisclosed number of jobs and shed other expenses because of the impact the coronavirus pandemic was having on its finances.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott

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