MILWAUKEE, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The A. O. Smith Corporation (NYSE:AOS) Board of Directors today announced Paul W. Jones will transition from chairman and chief executive officer to executive chairman of the corporation, effective Jan. 1, 2013, at which time, Ajita G. Rajendra will assume the role of president and chief executive officer. In this newly created role, Jones will continue to lead the company's Board of Directors as the executive chairman and will remain actively involved in the company's strategy development, mergers and acquisitions, investor relations, and developing executive talent for the Milwaukee-based water technology company. Rajendra, who is currently president and chief operating officer, will assume the role of chief executive and have responsibility for strategy development and implementation, profitability, and shareholder returns for the company which has nearly $2 billion in sales, 17 manufacturing operations, and more than 10,500 employees worldwide. "With our water technology strategy well under way, now is an appropriate time to transition the chief executive responsibilities to Ajita, who was actively involved in the development of this strategy," Jones commented. "In addition, he is well known and respected throughout the industry and is an outstanding business person with strategic vision and excellent execution skills. He is passionate about taking care of customers and delivering outstanding returns to our shareholders. Under his leadership, I am confident A. O. Smith will continue to grow and become one of the leading water technology companies in the world." " Paul Jones has had a significant impact on our company by spearheading the strategic action of becoming a focused, global water technology company," said Ronald D. Brown, lead director of the company. "He and his team have assembled an impressive list of accomplishments which have contributed to the company's total shareholder return of nearly 10 times that of the S&P 500 over the past five years," Brown pointed out. "The board views this important leadership transition as well planned and well executed," Brown observed. "We're fortunate to have Paul in a position to concentrate on the critical areas of identifying and pursuing acquisition candidates as well as enhancing the 'bench strength' of our executive ranks to support our growth aspirations. And Ajita brings to the chief executive role more than 30 years of industry experience and a proven track record of accomplishment at A.O. Smith, more than doubling sales and increasing profitability by nearly fivefold during his tenure with the company. The board is excited at the prospect of having these two talented executives working together to create additional value for our shareholders."