New Suncor CEO Kruger focused on cost cutting, will ‘play to win’

The new top boss at Suncor Energy Inc. says he will be sharply focused on cost-cutting as he embarks on the task of improving performance at the oilsands giant.

Rich Kruger, who took over as Suncor’s new CEO on April 3, pledged Tuesday that the company will become a “simpler and more focused organization” under his leadership.

On a conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s first-quarter financial results, he promised to be candid, transparent, and operate with a “sense of urgency” as he seeks to fulfil his mandate to make changes at the Calgary-based company.

“I consider myself to be reasonably decisive, and very competitive,” Kruger said. “I play to win.”

A familiar face in the Canadian oilpatch, Kruger led Imperial Oil Limited as president and CEO from 2013 until his retirement in 2019. His time at the helm of Imperial was the culmination of his 39-year career with parent company Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Kruger's appointment to the top job at Suncor — replacing interim CEO Kris Smith, who stepped in to fill the role after Mark Little resigned in July 2022 — came after months of investor pressure in the wake of a spate of workplace deaths and safety incidents, production challenges, and a lagging share price.

Kruger said Tuesday that in his first five weeks on the job, he has visited half of the company’s major facilities and met with workers and management.

While he said Suncor is a proud company with excellent people and high-quality assets, he believes it has untapped potential.

“I see a gap between our current performance and what I would consider best-in-class in many, many areas,” he said.

He also talked up the importance of ``organizational efficiency'' and suggested that there are ways to trim the company and reduce costs.

“I think we can eliminate work. I think we can do away with work that doesn’t add value,” he said, adding that all employees need to consider how their role helps to generate revenue for Suncor.

“I very much believe in making money. We are in the business to make money and as much of it as possible, and everybody starting with me needs to see how they do that,” Kruger said.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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