Steve Wade is wearing two big hats these days.
In November, Wade was named head of Boeing Wichita's Global Transport & Executive Systems, where he's in charge of the company's special air missions, such as the VC-25, commonly known as Air Force One.
This month, he was named site leader of the Wichita facility.
He's up to the task, he said.
"I have a strong leadership team... and my functional leaders all have dual roles as well," Wade said. "We'll rely on each other to make sure the site remains supported."
Wade replaces Scott Strode, who will move to Washington state to serve as vice president for operations and quality for global services and support.
Wade was born in Garden City and grew up in Burdett, south of Hays.
He joined Boeing after college and has held a number of positions in his 21 years there.
Wade has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering technology from Kansas State University.
He and his wife, Connie, have four children.
So where is the Wichita facility headed under your leadership?
"In my mind, we're starting a new chapter that we'll write together at Boeing. We'll continue to partner with our community; we'll continue to set far-reaching goals; we'll continue to push the boundaries so we can accomplish great things together."
You mentioned that the facility is on a path to restructure and cut costs. How so?
"In Wichita, we're organized to support many of the Boeing Defense, Space and Security division and different program types. The majority of our business is GTES (Global Transport and Executive Systems.) We're aligning all of our assets and resources around those programs. With that we'll be able to reduce our overhead and cost so we can maintain our affordability, which is of key interest to our customers."
How important is a Boeing win to replace aerial refuelers for the U.S. Air Force to Wichita?
"Wichita is an important part of the next-generation tanker program. The plane will fly to Wichita (for modification.)"
How many jobs will that mean for Wichita?
"We can't discuss that until that's completed."
What about new work for the facility?
"Most of the focus is on GTES. That's the biggest portfolio that we have. There are many opportunities within GTES that we've been tracking over time. (We're working) on the E4B... we continue to increase our work scope on the E-6 and continue to work additional opportunities there. Long term, there are new aircraft sales and internal business... Our biggest key here is there are many opportunities, but most important to us, we have to continue to execute on our current programs, keeping focused on our customers and working on our affordability to enable us to win (work.)"
With working around large aircraft all of your career, what's the first thing you notice when you board a commercial plane for a flight?
"I have an eye that has an incredible attention to detail. I can tell you in the first five minutes all of the things that are wrong."
What's your biggest challenge with your new position?
"The GTES piece, I've been doing for a while. So I have my arms around that. It's pretty demanding travel time. The biggest challenge will be trying to juggle the time I need to be out meeting with customers versus the time I need to be home."
What's the most satisfying aspect of your job?
"Working with these customers. We have the most recognizable airplanes on the planet. Our customers hold the most powerful office in the world — that customer satisfaction, gaining their trust, is my main passion."
What will you like best about your new role as site leader?
"The people. I've spent my entire career in Wichita. I know all the people. I know all of our accomplishments, and I'm excited about our opportunity in the future."