LONDON — Textrons acquisition of Beechcraft Corp. and the subsequent merger of Beechcraft and Cessna is going well, Textron CEO Scott Donnelly said in an interview at the Farnborough International Airshow.
So far, its been everything we expected, Donnelly said of Textron Aviation, which was created in the merger.
Today, when you sit down with employees, you cant really know or care who was with which business, Donnelly said.
Thats unusual in an acquisition.
Often with employees affected by a merger, there can be a we vs. they attitude between workers of two companies.
In this case, employees at Cessna and Beechcraft live in the same city. They often live in the same neighborhoods and their children attend the same schools, Donnelly said.
That makes it easier to build relationships.
Textron bought Beechcraft Corp. in March for about $1.4 billion roughly a year after Beechcraft emerged from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Textron Aviation CEO Scott Ernest also spoke to The Eagle during the Farnborough Airshow about the merger and the market.
It was good to make organizational changes quickly after the acquisition, they said.
When something like this happens, all the employees know things are going to be different, Donnelly said. If you dont move quickly, then its a traumatic event.
He knows that with the merger, however, some people dont have jobs anymore.
The company announced in April that it was laying off 750 people, including 575 in Kansas.
Its not easy, Donnelly said.
The goal is to make a strong and successful company.
Textron is investing in new products, something that was difficult for Beechcraft to do, Ernest said.
Thats created momentum.
Its also given Beechcraft customers confidence that if they place an order, they will receive it.
Thats an opportunity for us, Ernest said.
There are 2,500 Hawker jets out there flying. Production of Hawker aircraft ended during the bankruptcy, although Beechcraft stressed it would continue to offer support and service.
Now, as those Hawker owners move to a new airplane, hopefully they will move into Cessna products, Ernest said.
However, Donnelly said, its still a very tough market.
Its difficult to say when there will be an upturn.
We thought we hit bottom in 2012, Donnelly said. We didnt. Weve been guessing wrong forever.
The normal market indicators, such as corporate profits, number of used aircraft for sale and utilization, havent been real reliable during this downturn.
Now, though, the indicators are moving in the right direction, Donnelly said.
Our folks are working hard to sell, he said. We can do what we control. All the increase in sales has been driven by investment in new products. Its a market that responds to new.
The company is committed to investing in products, he said.
The merger has been well received by customers in Europe and elsewhere, Ernest said.
Globally, its been well accepted, he said. They like the factory-owned service centers they have access to.
Beech didnt have that, Ernest said.
Donnelly praised the talented work force in Wichita.
Wichita is not a low-cost country, Donnelly said. But we get access to talented people.
They do a great job designing and manufacturing products, he said. The jobs are high paying.
As long as its a productive work force, then it works, Donnelly said.
They are good craftsmen, and theyre talented, he said.
These are the kind of people we need.