Despite record sales of $9.72 billion last year and the biggest annual profit since 2000, there are signs that Navi-star isn't firing on all cylinders. Operational problems and parts shortages hamper the company.
Earnings restatements for fiscal 2002 through 2004, delays in filing quarterly results for the first and second quarters of fiscal 2005 and an erroneous first-quarter earnings release that had to be corrected 10 days later cost the company credibility.
If Ustian, 54, hasn't delivered results that might have been expected from a methodical, cautious manufacturing executive, perhaps the expectations were off-base. Throughout his career, he has shown a tendency to act quickly, trusting instinct over deliberation and strategic planning.
Ustian grew up in Harvey, Ill., a Chicago suburb, where his mother was a beautician and his father a toolmaker and machinist.
His first quick career decision came while he was still a college student. The death of a shift supervisor at the Bliss & Laughlin steel plant in Harvey, where Ustian was working part time, created an opportunity.
He took the open shift supervisor job and completed his studies as a night student at DePaul University in Chicago.
After receiving a bachelor's degree in business administration from DePaul in 1972, he went to work for International Harvester in 1973 and was assigned to work on a shape-up plan for a farm equipment plant in Louisville, Ky.
By the late 1980s Ustian was a vice president in the company's engine and foundry group. In 1993, Ustian became engine group president. Engine group sales grew to $2 billion a year by 2002, from $600 million in 1993.
He brokered a 12-year contract with Ford Motor Co. in 2000 to supply International diesel engines for Ford's heavy-duty pickups and helped start Blue Diamond Truck Co., a joint venture between Ford and Navistar that produces mid-sized commercial trucks for Ford and International in Mexico.
Ustian's ability to spark growth at a low-profile operation like engines earned him a promotion to president and COO in 2002. He became CEO the next year.
As CEO, Ustian has moved against the cultural grain and worked to reverse Navistar's corporate tendencies - including its casual dress code.
But he has loosened the grip his predecessor kept on company operations, pushing decision making down to subordinates and encouraging them to seek new sources of growth.