Chris Killingstad, the CEO of Tennant Co. for the past 15 years, will retire on March 1.

He will be succeeded by Dave Huml, the Eden Prairie-based manufacturing company's chief operating officer.

"Dave Huml's promotion to CEO is a natural progression that reflects his successful leadership at Tennant, including his role as a major architect of the company's current enterprise strategy," said lead director Steven Sonnenberg in a news release.

Killingstad will remain with Tennant as a strategic adviser until the end of next year.

"With his leadership, Chris helped transform Tennant into the innovation leader that we are today in the mechanized cleaning industry," Sonnenberg said.

Killingstad joined Tennant in 2002 from the Pillsbury Co., where he was a senior vice president and general manager. He also has worked at PepsiCo and General Electric.

During Killingstad's tenure, Tennant's annual revenue grew from $600 million to $1.1 billion in 2019, though analysts are estimating the company will finish 2020 with revenue just under $1 billion.

Killingstad also led the largest acquisition in Tennant's history, the 2017 acquisition of the Italy-based IPC Group that added more professional cleaning equipment and tools and strengthened Tennant's position in Europe.

St. Paul-based investment adviser Mairs & Power has owned Tennant shares since 2016 but had followed the company's management team for longer. Andrew Adams, the firm's chief investment officer, appreciated Killingstad's prudent investments in technology.

"Chris had the vision to invest in autonomous technology long before it had the commercial buzz it does today," Adams said via e-mail. "He recognized that while it may be years before the safety concerns around autonomous vehicles were satisfied, it likely would be a much shorter time until the technology could be applied safely to Tennant's floor scrubbers and sweepers."

Killingstad also made the decision to move Tennant's headquarters from space it had overgrown at its longtime home in Golden Valley to a new campus in Eden Prairie this year, although most of that headquarters workforce continues to work remotely due to the pandemic.

The company announced Killingstad's retirement late Monday along with several other senior-management changes that includes former chief financial officer Thomas Paulson returning to serve as interim CFO to replace Andy Cebulla, who the company said is resigning to accept a position at another company.

The company also took the "interim" out of Kristin Stokes' title, making her the permanent new general counsel and corporate secretary. Rusty Zay was named Tennant's new chief commercial officer, leading the company's enterprisewide commercial operations.

Huml's promotion was part of a long-term succession plan that was hinted at earlier this year when Huml — then Tennant's senior vice president of international operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region — was promoted to the new role of chief operating officer.

"Dave is highly respected by the board, and we have every confidence that he will lead Tennant with conviction and integrity as the management team executes on our strategy to drive long-term profitable growth," Sonnenberg said.

Killingstad is the latest longtime CEO of a Minnesota public company to announce his retirement. Maple Plain-based Protolabs also announced this week that its longtime CEO, Vicki Holt, would retire March 1.

Earlier this year, Edina-based Apogee Enterprises announced CEO Joe Puishys would retire after a successor for his position had been named.

Craig Dahl, the former CEO of TCF Financial, retired after leading the integration with Chemical Financial but before this week's announcement that the combined TCF/Chemical would be acquired by Huntington Bancshares in a $22 billion deal.

Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926