Cirrus Design President and Chief Operating Officer Brent Wouters is now the company’s chief executive officer, replacing Alan Klapmeier who remains chairman of the board.
Klapmeier’s brother, Dale, remains vice chairman of the board. Both are founders of the company.
Company officials stressed that they are focused on providing for an orderly transition from Klapmeier to Wouters. Wouters had guided the company to a leaner, more efficient operation even before the current economic crisis became apparent. He devised a plan to eliminate waste from both manufacturing and employment that was leftover from the company’s phenomenal growth.
Prior to joining Cirrus in 2002 as the chief financial officer, Wouters served as an aircraft engineer and spent four years developing and testing flight simulators for Delta Air Lines. As an information technology consultant, he assisted Lockheed Martin with inventory management software during its successful bid to build the F–22 military aircraft.
“We’ve been working toward this for awhile. This reflects the reality of the situation as it already exists,” Wouters said.
Klapmeier said he will focus on overall strategic goals, something he wanted to do in 2008. With the board, he and his brother will continue to set the direction for the company. An overwhelming concern that Klapmeier will now focus on is the way general aviation is perceived by the public, especially in the case of flight departments once operated by the major auto makers.
“We just get beat up, especially over the last couple of months,” said Klapmeier, the former chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
Wouters told the Duluth News Tribune, “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 later told AOPA that Klapmeier’s focus on the general aviation image would be good not only for Cirrus but also for the industry.