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Former GE CEO, chairman built company into powerhouse

Jack Welch, the business luminary who built General Electric into an industrial and financial powerhouse and became known for his aggressive management style, has died, GE confirmed. He was 84.

Welch, who served as chairman and CEO of GE from 1981 to 2001, presided over a massive increase in the company’s stock valuation. In recent years, the company has struggled as it became too unwieldy and Welch’s successors began dismantling the empire that he built.

“Today is a sad day for the entire GE family,” GE Chairman and CEO Larry Culp said in a statement. “Jack was larger than life and the heart of GE for half a century. He reshaped the face of our company and the business world.”

Welch, who was born in 1935, joined GE as a chemical engineer in 1960 after earning degrees from the University of Massachusetts and the University of Illinois.

He quickly rose in the ranks, becoming the company’s youngest vice president in 1972 and earning the title of vice chairman in 1979. He soon succeeded Reginald Jones, becoming the company’s eighth chairman and CEO.

John F. "Jack" Welch, Jr., served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric (GE) from 1981-2001.

The year before he became CEO, the company posted about $27 billion in revenue. In his last full year as CEO, the company had nearly $130 billion in revenue. Its total market capitalization climbed from $14 billion to $410 billion.

Named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune in 1999, Welch became known for his willingness to make big bets, slash jobs and sell businesses. 

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