Mint's new top leader brings wealth of experience to post

Published : 04/04/11
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For the first time in more than three decades the U.S. Mint has in its top career leader a person with both experience in manufacturing and executive experience in leading a large business organization.

Richard "Dick" Peterson currently is holding down the two top posts at the Mint. He is deputy Mint director — the top career position — and acting Mint director.

The Mint director position is a political appointment. Peterson will function in the dual role until President Obama nominates and the U.S. Senate confirms the 39th Mint director.

In announcing Peterson’s elevation from the Mint’s position of associate director for manufacturing to his new assignments Jan. 25, Treasurer of the United States Rosa "Rosie" Gumataotao Rios pointed out that "Dick brings a wealth of manufacturing experience to this position and has an excellent rapport with the teams at each Mint and headquarters."

It is refreshing to learn that somewhere in the top levels of government there is an understanding that first and foremost the Mint is a government factory. Based on the number of coins it produces annually and sells to the Federal Reserve Bank for circulation in commerce, the volume of bullion coins it strikes and markets to investors worldwide, and the wide range of numismatic products it produces and markets to collectors, the U.S. Mint is a large, government-owned company. Were it in the private sector, it would be ranked among Fortune’s 500. And that’s why it needs at the top a leader with manufacturing/executive experience rather than years of survival within the government bureaucracy.

Peterson’s résumé is impressive. Since joining the Mint in 2008 he has been a member of all senior management committees and, in his manufacturing role, spent significant time at the Mint production facilities at Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco and West Point.

He is a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and earned a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1988. After leaving the Navy in 1992, Peterson for four years supervised 100 professionals involved in research and development, engineering and environmental issues for ASARCO Inc., an international mining concern headquartered in Tucson, Ariz.

From 1996 to 1998, he was employed by Building Materials Holding Corp., in San Francisco, serving as assistant to the chief executive officer for acquisitions and strategic development. He left BMHC in 1998 for General Electric in Salt Lake City, where, for the next 11 years, he served in a series of roles, including in supply scheduling, performance, productivity and vendor negotiations.

In his first interview with the numismatic press Peterson on March 11 talked with Coin World (See story beginning on Page 4), not only discussing his "back to basics" approach but responding to questions on a wide range of topics.

We found his candor refreshing.

He shared that his family has a tradition of sitting down together every New Year’s Eve and making predictions about what’s going to happen in the next year.

"... Becoming the deputy director of the Mint and acting Director of the Mint never, never was on our radar screen," Peterson said, recalling New Year’s Eve 2010.

He freely admitted that he has never attended a coin show, but enthusiastically asked for recommendations for the remainder of the year.

Our recommendation was that he circle Aug. 26 to 30 on his calendar and plan to attend the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Chicago. While there are a number of national and regional coins shows that would be fun to attend, if he has time only for one, this particular show would provide him with the widest possible view of a major segment of his customers — collectors and dealers — as well as the U.S. Mint’s competitors, some two dozen or so federal Mints from around the world. We expect to see him there! n

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