Hawker Beechcraft hires new CEO, 'The Turnaround Kid'

February 8, 2012

Newly hired Hawker Beechcraft CEO Robert “Steve” Miller expressed confidence that the company will weather the financial storm during an interview with local media on Feb. 7, the day he was hired to replace Bill Boisture.

Boisture, according to a company news release, will continue to lead the company’s aircraft-production subsidiary. Miller told the Wichita Eagle that Boisture will continue to lead aircraft production, while Miller’s focus will be financial.

Miller, 70, has a long history of turning the fortunes of troubled companies, and will remain chairman of American International Group. The insurance firm is reviewing a succession plan, according to Reuters. Miller’s 2008 autobiography, “The Turnaround Kid: What I Learned Rescuing America’s Most Troubled Companies,” was published the same year AIG accepted a $183 billion government bailout. Miller, who helped revive a long list of companies in the automotive and steel industries, joined the AIG board in 2009, and became chairman in 2010. He is also a director of software maker Symantec.

The ongoing downturn in the business jet market has put Hawker Beechcraft at risk of breaking debt agreements, and the company has hired specialists to help. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that includes a law firm specialized in bankruptcy and restructuring. Miller told the Wichita Eagle that he spent his first day on the job reassuring lenders, union leaders, local officials, and others that Hawker Beechcraft will honor its obligations, and there are no immediate plans to restructure the company.

Company officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from AOPA Online.

“The one fundamental thing here is that we need to be able to finance our way through this recession in the marketplace,” Miller told the newspaper. “I have every confidence the creditors will give us the runway to keep going.”