That is the question we asked industry executives to answer here in the Executive Outlook section this year. It is purposely a very broad question in order to give the respondents a lot of room to address whatever is most important to each of them, personally. This is one time in particular that we do try to allow them to point us toward the important things to watch in the coming months, rather than vice versa.
Another question we considered asking was: “When do you think the log jam for money for new capital purchases is finally going to break-loose?”
I have been asking that same question of various industry executives and veterans for several months now and have run across a common theme (watch for our helicopter financing story coming in the February issue). Most do not doubt that some significant solutions are going to present themselves in 2010, but there is a great range of expectations as to exactly what form those solutions are most likely to take. Anyone who has hung around the helicopter market for any number of years is not likely to be too surprised at the emergence of unexpected problems or the resultant detours in our business paths. Things happen, both good and bad. Accident rates go way up one year, Tsunamis or hurricanes wreak major havoc, wars or military skirmishes come and go, new governments take office and the latest iteration of the helicopter-of-the-future gets set aside while attentions turn to even newer and more exciting advances in technology. All these events can drive us in unexpected directions.
I do not believe our industry is particularly different than many others in this regard. But in dealing with an industry like ours, where the cornerstone pieces of capital equipment that provide the fuel for business growth are bought and sold for prices in the multiple millions, it is a cruel twist of irony that we can be held completely hostage by the financial community—in spite of the fact that the underlying tenets of our businesses remain as sound and solid as they were when the financial industry meltdown began more than a year ago. But the answer is out there. I have heard business plans and new ideas in the past few months that make my head spin.
With that said, I turn your attention to the Executive Outlook section and the Annual Reports. I have no doubt that some of the responses given by these industry leaders will provide insight into the answer to not only the questions posed above, but to other equally important questions I had not even considered.
- Randy Jones, Publisher, Rotor & Wing