After he finally was able to spend some time at Heli-Expo 2007, new Bell Helicopter President and CEO Richard Millman said he felt like Santa Claus. He had a big sack of gifts in his hands.
Millman missed Bell’s press conference on the eve of the show in Orlando, Fla. and the show’s opening to attend a board meeting of Bell parent Textron. Textron chief Lewis Campbell named him Jan. 18 to replace Mike "Red" Redenbaugh at Bell’s helm.
Much of his time at the show was spent with customers explaining changes at Bell, including cancellation of its 417 program and the stretch of the 429 program. "When customers tell you how you can do things better, it’s a gift," he said. "They’ve given me a lot of gifts."
Formerly president of Textron Systems Corp., Millman said he has been impressed with the efforts of senior managers and some of Bell’s operations. "Bell has islands of excellence," he said. "We have to combine them into a continent."
"From my own perspective, I’m not ready," he said. "I have not developed an intuition for this business yet. You have to give me a few weeks."
Millman described himself as "cautious," but underscored the fact that in his more than 20 years with Textron and its associated businesses, he has developed relationships with key executives at Bell and has a good general understanding of the business and how it should be run.