Lewis Campbell is no stranger to turnarounds. After a 24-year career with General Motors Co. (IW 500/4), Campbell engineered the dramatic transformation of Textron Inc. (IW 500/100) in the 2000s, one that even Textron describes as a reconstruction of "the very DNA of the company."

From that perspective, it made all the sense in the world for Navistar International Corp. (IW 500/86) to lure the 66-year-old out of retirement in August to steer the commercial-truck maker in the right direction, after the company veered terribly off course in its efforts to meet EPA engine-emissions regulations.

Campbell, though, asserts that Lisle, Ill.-based Navistar isn't nearly as big of a reclamation project as he thought it would be.

"I didn't know what I was going to find there. I didn't know whether I was going to need to use a whip or what," Campbell says. "And I found a group of employees who were so anxious to do what they knew how to do that the progress we're making now is amazing.

"But I can't really take credit for it. It was already there. It was like a pent-up energy that was ready to be unleashed."