VERO BEACH, Fla., June 10, 2009 — Piper Aircraft Inc. today announced the promotion of two of its senior executives. Kevin J. Gould, Piper’s Vice President of Operations, will become Piper’s Chief Executive Officer, and John Becker, Piper’s Vice President of Engineering, will become President of the Company.
Effective, June 26, 2009, Gould and Becker will take on the duties of James K. Bass, who will resign his position as Piper President and CEO.
“All things come to an end,” Bass said in remarks to Piper employees today. “I have successfully completed my mission at Piper and am leaving the company in very capable hands. What I was brought in to do has been done, and it is now time for me to move on to other challenges. Kevin, John and the rest of the management team are exceptionally talented and dedicated to the future of Piper. They are seasoned, highly determined, and will continue what we have created: a results-driven culture.
“My primary focus when I came to Piper in 2005 was to turn the company around, create a strong, highly competitive business, and make Piper a compelling choice for potential buyers,” Bass said. “Now with the sale of Piper to Imprimis, we have achieved that major milestone.”
Imprimis, a corporate finance and investment management firm that operates from offices in Bangkok, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, purchased Piper on May 1, 2009.
Commenting on the management changes, Imprimis Managing Partner Stephen W. Berger said: "Jim Bass has been an excellent leader of Piper, bringing about many important changes that made this company an attractive investment for us. Among Jim's many contributions has been to recruit and develop a team of capable successors who are now charged with taking Piper forward. We thank Jim for his enormous contribution and wish him every success in the future. "
Gould, an experienced senior executive with more than 20 years of leadership roles in engineering, manufacturing and general management, said that the strong foundation and exceptional accomplishments Piper has achieved under Bass’ leadership place the company in an excellent position to grow and prosper.
“Under Jim’s leadership during the last four years,” Gould said, “Piper became a formidable company that was able to attract new, stable and financially strong owners committed to investing in Piper’s new product initiatives and expanding the company’s market share. With Jim’s leadership, our accomplishments led to nearly eliminating the company’s debt, significantly improving Piper’s financial performance and creating a platform for future success.”
Becker, a 20-year Piper veteran who has held key management positions within the company before becoming Vice President of Engineering, echoed Gould.
“We introduced the PiperJet,” Becker said, “the first jet of its kind in Piper’s history and one that our new owners cited as a key element in their decision to acquire Piper. In addition, we forged a new business alliance with Honda, which picked Piper because it valued our expertise above all other general aviation companies.”
Other major milestones in addition to the PiperJet that Gould and Becker cited as key accomplishments under Bass’ leadership include:
• Developing and bringing to market the Meridian G1000 and the Piper Matrix -- one of the most successful aircraft in the company’s history.
• Negotiating a $32 million retention package with the state of Florida and Indian River County that leveled the playing field and made it possible for Piper to stay in Vero Beach.
• A 70 percent reduction in employee workplace injuries.
Bass, who came to Piper after leading the financial turnaround of Suntron Corporation, a Phoenix, Ariz., based $500 million public corporation where he served as President & CEO, said he was particularly proud of his years at Piper. “Piper will always have a special place in my heart,” Bass said. “It has been a true honor to have played the role I have and to have served the men and women of Piper for the past four years.”
Gould and Becker were selected with the mandate to continue building and expanding Piper’s market position.
Gould joined Piper in 2005 as Vice President, Operations. Since arriving at Piper, Gould has overhauled the company’s manufacturing operations to meet production schedule commitments, while improving both cost and quality performance. Previously he served as Senior Vice President, Operations, at Adam Aircraft Industries in Denver, Colo., where he set up the company's manufacturing and quality organizations in preparation for commercial production of its A500 aircraft.
Gould, who also spent 12 years at the Boeing Company in various operational roles within Boeing's commercial aircraft business, holds an M.B.A from Harvard Business School, a J.D. from the University of Southern California School of Law and a B.A. from Washington State University. He is a licensed private pilot.
Becker joined Piper in 1989 and has since held various positions of increasing responsibility and successfully implemented numerous projects including development of the Meridian (Piper’s flagship, turboprop aircraft), the Seneca V (Piper’s premier twin-engine aircraft), two models of the Saratoga (Piper’s midlevel, performance aircraft), and the Archer and Warrior II (Piper’s entry-level aircraft). In his capacity as Vice President of Engineering, Becker has led the team responsible for the ongoing design and development of the PiperJet.
Becker, who also worked with Bombardier Learjet as a powerplant engineer/consultant on the Learjet Model 31A, Model 45 and Model 60, has a B.S. in Aviation Technology from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, an M.B.A. from the Florida Institute of Technology and a Master Certification in Program Management from George Washington University. He is an instrument-rated commercial pilot and an airframe and power plant mechanic. Additionally, Becker has served as a Designated Engineering Representative for the FAA.
About Piper Aircraft, Inc.
Piper Aircraft Inc. is headquartered in Vero Beach, Fla. Piper’s rich legacy is born of 72 years of unparalleled history, with almost 150,000 aircraft brought to market and more than 160 models certified. Approximately 90,000 of those aircraft are still flying and being serviced and supported on every continent by Piper’s 65 service centers, 38 dealers and 2,500 field personnel. Piper is the only general aviation manufacturer to build and offer aircraft for every general aviation mission, from trainers and high-performance aircraft for personal and business use, to turbine powered business aircraft and the PiperJet. For more information about Piper Aircraft and to find an authorized service center near you, please visit www.piper.com.
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For further information, contact:
Mark S. Miller
Chief Corporate Spokesperson
Tel: (772) 299-2900
Fax: (772) 978-6597
For additional information or questions about
the general aviation industry, contact the
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