WASHINGTON – The Senate on Monday confirmed Carlos Gutierrez (search) as the new commerce secretary, a position in which he will lead the Bush administration's efforts to revive the country's beleaguered manufacturing sector.
Senators confirmed Gutierrez, 51, by voice vote. He will replace Donald Evans (search), who resigned to return to Texas after serving at the Commerce Department during President Bush's first term.
"Mr. Gutierrez has my strong support," said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chairman of the Commerce Committee.
Gutierrez was head of the Kellogg Co. (search), the world's largest cereal maker. He joined Kellogg in 1975 as a sales representative, selling cereal from a van in Mexico City, and rose through the ranks until he led the entire company in April 1999.
Turning around Kellogg's fading fortunes by focusing sales on various higher-end products, he became one of the most prominent Hispanic business leaders in the country.
"I believe that Mr. Gutierrez's impressive background and experience will serve him well in this position," said Sen. Daniel Inouye (search) of Hawaii, the committee's ranking Democrat.
As head of Kellogg, a big user of sugar, Gutierrez sought to end the government's quota system, which drives up domestic prices. He told the senators he would recuse himself from participating in sugar issues while at Commerce if ethics lawyers ruled he had a conflict of interest.