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Carlos Gutierrez, the Cuban-born chairman and chief executive of Kellogg Co. who has been widely credited with turning around the cereal giant, was nominated yesterday by President Bush to be Secretary of Commerce.

If approved by the Senate, Gutierrez would replace Donald Evans, who resigned shortly after President Bush won re-election.

The president called Gutierrez a “great American success story in making the nomination.

The choice of Gutierrez, known for his charisma and accessibility, was seen as something of a surprise in Washington, where he is the first new member of the Bush administration’s second-term economics team.

Gutierrez will be replaced at Kellogg by James M. Jenness, an advertising industry veteran who most recently has been CEO of Integrated Merchandising Systems, a retail promotion and branded merchandising outsourcing company. Jenness has been a member of Kellogg's board since 2000; his appointment as Kellogg CEO is contingent on Gutierrez being confirmed by the Senate.

After the nomination was announced, Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) President & CEO C. Manly Molpus said, “GMA extends its warmest congratulations to Carlos as he embarks on this new challenge. We are confident that his knowledge and experience in both domestic and international business issues will be of great value to the U.S. Department of Commerce and to the country.

“As President Bush said, Carlos is ‘one of America’s most respected business leaders.’ During his five-year tenure as a member of GMA’s Board of Directors, Carlos has provided invaluable insight and leadership on critical issues for the food and beverage industry. We look forward to continuing our working relationship with him in the years to come.”

The New York Times notes this morning that despite Gutierrez’s obvious business achievements, he has no public policy experience. And the Washington Post writes this morning that he will have his work cut out for him, at the Commerce Department, which is “a hodgepodge agency that controls the Census Bureau, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.”
KC's View:
We suspect that once Gutierrez gets to Washington and starts dealing with that bureaucracy, dealing with recalcitrant retailers, slotting allowances, failure fees and promotional expenses will seem like small potatoes in comparison.