CEOs seldom keep their spot at the helm of a single company for long, but occasionally a select few manage to stick in the same place for decades.Many of their names have become synonymous with the companies they helped grow into global empires.
How did they manage to do it?
We’ve compiled a list of 18 current CEOs of public companies — with upwards of $10 billion in revenue, according to Fortune — who have stayed in the same spot for 15 years or more.
CEO of DISH Network for 15 years
Ergen founded DISH's predecessor parent company EchoStar Satellite in 1980 with his pal Jim DeFranco. EchoStar spawned DISH in 1996, launching its first satellite and subscription television services. DISH split off in 2008, but Ergan maintained control.
DISH competes primarily with rival satellite TV provider DirecTV and the throngs of cable providers in the industry. Ergen's latest move was to buy video rental company Blockbuster in a bankruptcy auction for $322 million. He just announced that he'll step down in June.
CEO of Amazon.com for 15 years
Bezos founded Amazon as an online bookstore in 1996. Fifteen years later, Amazon sells pretty much everything, from web services to groceries.
Its secret? Excellent operational efficiency. Bezos, a computer science guy and notorious micromanager, adapted his bookstore model to countless other products.
Bezos himself has become as big as his brainchild, being named Time's Person of the Year in 1999.
CEO of Hess Corporation for 16 years
Hess' father, Leon Hess, founded Hess Oil and Chemical in the 1930s, which became Amerada Hess after a merger in 1968. The father-son pair are the only CEOs in the history of the company, which was renamed Hess Corporation in 2006.
Under John Hess' leadership the company expanded further, buying Triton Energy in 2001. There hasn't been a major environmental accident for Hess Corp. since he took over.
CEO of Cisco Systems for 16 years
Chambers worked at IBM and Wang Laboratories before joining networking tech company Cisco as a SVP in 1991. He became CEO in 1995, and helped grow the firm into one of the world's biggest tech companies, reaching $40 billion in revenue in 2010.
He has made dozens of acquisitions throughout his tenure as CEO, including Stratacom in 1996, Cerent in 1999, and Linksys in 2003. The latest big move for Cisco was the purchase of Starent in 2010.
CEO of Dean Foods for 17 years
Engles merged his ice company Reddy Ice with Suiza Dairy in 1995, and the resulting company Suiza Foods went on to buy Dean Foods.
Since then he has expanded the company into a $12 billion dairy behemoth. It bought Alpro in 2009 for $455 million, instantly making Dean Foods a significant competitor in the global soy milk market.
CEO of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold for 17 years
Adkerson took over FMCG after it spun off parent Freeport-McMoRan in 1994.
FMCG's most significant (and profitable) operations are in Indonesia, where the company has been implicated in a variety of scandals due to its alleged close relationship with the local military.
The company's Grasburg mine in Indonesia is their most profitable location, but also their biggest public relations nightmare.
CEO of Capital One for 17 years
Fairbank founded the bank holding company Capital One in 1988, officially becoming CEO and chairman six years later.
The firm quickly became famous for its marketing of credit cards during the 1990s, and it continues to advertise heavily today. He stressed consumer credit lines in the early years and expanded Capital One into retail banking in 2005.
Capital One was a recipient of $3.5 billion in federal bailout cash in 2008, but managed to pay it off by 2009. It also ejected its mortgage lending platform in response to the crisis.
CEO of Safeway for 18 years
Burd worked as a consultant for Arthur D. Little before joining Safeway following the company's takeover by KKR in 1986. It took several years to reorganize the company, and by 1998 Burd was finally able to focus on expansion. He acquired local grocery chains across the country with some success, but by 2004 competitive pressure from WalMart had beat Safeway down. Though enormous in size, the company is still struggling to stay profitable.
CEO of Occidental Petroleum for 21 years
Irani was an exec at chemicals maker Olin Corporation before legendary business magnate Armand Hammer brought him into Occidental. Hammer chose Irani to succeed him as CEO after 20 years with the firm.
Irani has gained infamy in past years for receiving ridiculously lofty compensation packages, including a $460 million paycheck in 2006.
CEO of Aflac for 21 years
Aflac was founded in 1955 by three brothers: John, Paul, and Bill Amos. So it was natural for Dan Amos, John's son, to head the company in their stead.
Two major marketing changes were made under Amos. When he took over in 1990 the company switched its name from 'American Family Life Assurance Company' to just its initials, 'Aflac,' and in 1999 the now-famous Aflac Duck made its debut in advertising, skyrocketing the company's brand recognition.
CEO of State Farm Insurance for 26 years
Rust's grandfather was a lawyer that helped State Farm founder George Mecherle start up the company in 1922. He became CEO in 1954, passed it down to his son in 1967, and the job finally landed in Edward Rust Jr.'s lap in 1985.
The newest Rust expanded the company's operations into financial services in 1999, including checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, and mortgages.
CEO of Aramark for 28 years
A former VP at PepsiCo and Chase Manhattan, Neubauer joined food and facilities services company ARA Services and immediately had to fend off a hostile takeover bid, resulting in buyout by the incumbent executives.
Under Neubauer, the public-turned-private company changed its name to Aramark, and it has stayed focused on growth in the food services industry. It has gone public again since.
CEO of Costco for 28 years
Sinegal co-founded Costco, now the nation's largest wholesale club, with Seattle retailer Jeff Brotman. It was the first warehouse store to offer gas and fresh food.
Now Costco has stores in eight countries and has expanded into a plethora of services beyond its traditional warehouse products, including automobile purchases, insurance, travel, and investments.
CEO of News Corporation for 32 years
News Corp. was originally created as a holding company for Murdoch for all of the assets he had inherited from his father, which included an Australian tabloid, The News.
He started buying up other newspapers, first in the UK and then the US, in the 1970s. 40 years later, his company has become one of the world's largest media conglomerates.
CEO of Oracle for 34 years
Ellison co-founded enterprise software and database management provider Oracle 34 years ago and has stayed in control of the company since.
He guided the company through a intense, lengthy battle with competitors Informix and Sybase through the 1990's and came out victorious. Now his worries lie with Microsoft and IBM.
He led Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010.
CEO of Marriott International for 39 years
Marriott is the son of founder J. Willard Marriott, who started the business in 1927 as a humble root beer stand called The Hot Shoppe. He took over in the early 70s, after his dad changed the company name to Marriott Corporation.
Before he took over, Marriott was solely a food services company, but he diversified into theme parks, vacation time-shares, and eventually hotels. The company split in half in 1993, with Marriott still running the bulk of the business. The secondary arm, Host Marriott Corporation, is a real estate investment trust.
CEO of Berkshire Hathaway for 41 years
The legendary zen master of investing took control of textile company Berkshire Hathaway in
1970. 40 years later, he's one of the richest men in the world, and he's one of the few out there whose name rings far louder than the brand of the company he leads.
CEO of Penske Corporation for 42 years
Penske started buying, selling, and racing cars in 1958. He founded Penske Corp. as a holding company for his automotive endeavours, which now include auto dealerships, truck rentals, and engine manufacturing.
Despite the diversification, Penske's still best known for his racing team, which competes in both NASCAR and IndyCar. Two of his sons, Roger Jr. and Gregory, have been deeply involved in the Penske businesses in the past, so the company will likely stay in the family when the Penske patriarch decides to step down.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.