Cirrus Design co-founder Alan Klapmeier said Thursday that Chief Operating Officer Brent Wouters has been promoted and will take over from him as Chief Executive Officer of the company effective Feb. 1. Klapmeier said he will continue as chairman of the board of directors and his brother and company co-founder Dale will continue as vice chair.
In an interview with AVweb, Klapmeier said the move reflects the reality of the current organizational structure at Cirrus. In fact, as chairman of the board, he said he retains overall responsibility for the company but he will not play as big a role in the day-to-day operations of the company. "This is just the reasonable thing to do. It's not really that big of a change," he said. Klapmeier said the company remains focused on developing and manufacturing the Vision jet and on keeping costs in check during the current downturn. Klapmeier said he also intends to try and change the perception of general aviation in the public and mainstream media, a perception that's taken a beating in recent weeks with the controversy over auto executives' use of business jets. Klapmeier said his goal is to change that perception from one that revolves around luxury and perks to one that expresses general aviation's value in enhancing productivity and saving time. He acknowledged that changing the perception will be difficult. "But does that mean you don't try?" he said.
An article in the Duluth News Tribune paraphrased Wouters as saying the Klapmeiers "will continue to be quite involved in charting Cirrus' strategy but will be less involved in day-to-day operations." He also praised the brothers for their pioneering work in creating the company. "This is a very good opportunity for me, but I can't say enough about the foundation that Alan and Dale have built for this company," Wouters told the News Tribune. He also said the brothers gave Cirrus "a great launching pad."