Thomas J. Usher

Chairman and chief executive officer, United States Steel Corporation

Nationality: American.

Born: September 11, 1942, in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Education: University of Pittsburgh, BS, 1964; MS, 1965; PhD, 1971.

Family: Married Sandra L. Mort, 1965; children: three.

Career: United States Steel Corporation, 1965–1975, industrial engineer, Pittsburgh headquarters; 1975–1978, assistant, general superintendent, and superintendent, South Works in Chicago; 1978–1979, assistant division superintendent of primary mills, Gary Works in Indiana; 1979–1981, director of corporate strategic planning, Pittsburgh headquarters; 1981, assistant to the president; 1981–1982, managing director of facility planning, engineering, research, and industrial engineering, Resource Development Group; 1982–1983, vice president of engineering and research, U.S. Steel Mining Company; 1983–1984, president, U.S. Steel Mining; 1984, vice president for engineering, steel; 1984–1986, senior vice president for operations, steel; USX Corporation, 1986–1990, executive vice president, heavy products; 1990–1991, president, Steel Division; 1991–1994, president, U.S. Steel; 1994–1995, president and chief operating officer; 1995–2001, chairman and chief executive officer; United States Steel Corporation, 2002–2003, chairman, president, and chief executive officer; 2003–, chairman and chief executive officer.

Address: United States Steel Corporation, 600 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219-2800;

■ Thomas J. Usher became chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of United States Steel Corporation when it was spun off from USX Corporation in 2001. In April 2004 he announced his plans to step down as CEO at the end of September 2004. Although U.S. Steel in the early 21st century was a mere shadow of what it had once been in the glory days of the U.S. steel industry, the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker, under Usher's direction, focused on its core competency. When the company regained its independence at the beginning of 2002, Usher laid out his strategy in clear-cut terms, according to a company press release: "U.S. Steel must be 100 percent focused on being a world-competitive company capable of meeting any competitor head-on with the markets we choose to be in" (January 2, 2002).


Although U.S. Steel posted a net loss of $463 million in 2003, Usher was heartened by the progress the company had made "in strengthening our position as a leading global provider of value-added steel products," according to a company press release (January 30, 2004). He said the steelmaker's 2003 acquisitions of National Steel in the United States and Sartid in Serbia increased U.S. Steel's annual steelmaking capacity to nearly 27 million tons, up roughly 50 percent from what it had been the previous year.

Thomas J. Usher was born on September 11, 1942, in Reading, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh to study industrial engineering. He received his bachelor's degree in 1964 and a master's degree in operations research the following year. On August 14, 1965, he married Sandra L. Mort. That same year he went to work as an industrial engineer in the Pittsburgh headquarters of U.S. Steel. A decade later he was transferred from Pittsburgh to U.S. Steel's South Works in Chicago. He started as an assistant to the plant's general superintendent and over the next three years was promoted to superintendent of transportation and general services before finally being named superintendent of the 30-inch plate mill at South Works. In 1978 Usher was named assistant division superintendent of the primary mills at the steelmaker's Gary Works in Indiana.


Returning to U.S. Steel's Pittsburgh headquarters in 1979, Usher served for two years as director of corporate strategic planning before being named assistant to the corporate president in 1981. Later that same year he was appointed managing director of facility planning, engineering, research, and industrial engineering for the corporation's Resource Development Group. In 1982 Usher went to work for U.S. Steel Mining Company, a wholly owned subsidiary, as vice president of engineering and research. The following year he was named president of the subsidiary, a position he held until 1984, when he was named vice president for engineering of the Steel Division. By the end of 1984 he was promoted to senior vice president for steel operations.

In 1986 U.S. Steel became a division of USX Corporation, a holding company formed to oversee its operations. That same year Usher was named executive vice president, heavy products, for the Steel Division. In 1990 he became president of the Steel Division and joined USX's Corporate Policy Committee. The following year he was appointed president of U.S. Steel and named to USX's board of directors. In 1994 he was promoted to president and chief operating officer of USX, a position he held until the following year when he was named chairman and CEO of USX. He continued in that position through the end of 2001 and took over as chairman, president, and CEO of U.S. Steel Corporation at the beginning of 2002 when the company was spun off from USX. In early 2003 he surrendered his responsibilities as president to John P. Surma but continued as chairman and CEO.


In the first year after regaining its independence, U.S. Steel, under Usher's direction, posted a profit of $61 million on total sales of $6.95 billion, a sharp improvement from a loss of $218 million on revenue of roughly $6.3 billion the previous year. In 2003 U.S. Steel's sales were up sharply, climbing more than 34 percent from revenue of $6.3 billion in 2002. The company, however, posted a net loss $463 million.

Usher and his wife, Sandra, had three children. In addition to his responsibilities at U.S. Steel, Usher found time to participate in numerous professional and civic activities. He was a member of the Business Council and served as chairman of the International Iron and Steel Institute, American Iron and Steel Institute, SteelAlliance, and U.S.-Korea Business Council. He sat on the boards of the University of Pittsburgh, Boy Scouts of America, and the Extra Mile Education Foundation. Usher also served on the corporate boards of H. J. Heinz Company, PPG Industries, and PNC Financial Services Group.

See also entry on United States Steel Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories .

sources for further information

Mandak, Joe, "USX Plans Energy, Steel Split," Associated Press, April 24, 2001.

"United States Steel Corporation Begins New Year as Independent Company with a Century of Experience,",+2002 .

"United States Steel Corporation Reports 2003 Fourth Quarter and Full-Year Results,",+2004 .

"U.S. Steel Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Usher to Retire at End of September,",+2004 .

—Don Amerman

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