MD Helicopters’ new owner is moving quickly to patch up the company’s relations with customers and suppliers as part of her plan to make the Mesa, Ariz. company viable.
According to Lynn Tilton, founder of the New York distressed-debt investment firm Patriach Partners, which bought MD in July, she has spent millions of dollars above the purchase price to pay debts to suppliers, stock spares and restart the company’s production line. In addition to restoring confidence among civil customers, Tilton is vying to convince the U.S. Army that the MD902 should be that service’s new Light Utility Helicopter. The Army’s looking to buy 320.
In mid-November, she struck a multi-year deal with Kaman Aerospace for that supplier to resume production of rotor blades, pitch cases and flex beams for the Explorer and other MD aircraft. The deal involved an immediate payment of $4 million and additional payments totalling $1 million through March 31. In 2005, Kaman had taken a $20.1-million write-off covering accounts receivable and inventory on MD programs, including the work now resumed and production of MD-500 and MD-600 series fuselages. Kaman said it doesn’t expect resume the fuselage work.
In addition, Tilton’s new management team of interim CEO Robert W. Renï¿½ (a technology and manufacturing guru from Patriarch) and COO Randy Kesterson (a former Curtis-Wright Controls executive vice president) made two key hires.
David Oglesbee was lured away from Bell Helicopter (where he was director of marketing and sales for non-DoD government customers) to be vice president of sales. He was immediately dispatched on a tour to rebuild good will with customers. Some reportedly were impressed. MD also named Jeffrey L. Snyder as general manager of spare parts and service.