Piper has made several personnel changes, including at the chief executive level, and is opening an office in Europe in a restructuring aimed at better positioning the manufacturer for international growth.
Kevin Gould, a Piper veteran who was promoted to chief executive last year, resigned in July. Geoffrey Berger, an investment fund manager, has taken over as interim chief executive. Berger, who was already a member of the Piper board, says he expects to serve as chief for about three months or however long it take to find a permanent replacement.
Meanwhile, Piper has hired Drew McEwen as director of sales for the Americas. Piper executive vice-president Randy Groom says he is also now looking to recruit a director of sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Groom says this position will be based in an office Piper plans to open in a yet to be selected European city.
Previously Piper's entire team of sales executives was based at its Florida headquarters. Groom says the team is being restructured with one sales director based in Florida overseeing North and South America, a second director based in Europe overseeing the Europe, Middle East and Africa region and a third director based in Brunei overseeing the Asia-Pacific region.
Groom says Piper Aircraft Asia managing director Mary Messuti will act as the sales director for Asia Pacific. Piper and Imprimis, the Brunei-based investment firm which acquired the manufacturer last year, established Piper Aircraft Asia early this year with Messuti moving from Florida to lead the new company. Groom says Piper is now planning to move its fleet sales leader, Chuck Glass, to Brunei in September to work with Messuti to build sales in the region. Groom adds most of Piper's fleet sales are in Asia and "we wanted to put our fleet sales leader where the action is".
Messuti is also leading Piper's Brunei pilot academy project. Berger says the school "will more than likely be funded through Piper Asia", which he says is a sister company to US-based Piper. Last year several pilot training firms submitted bids to partner Piper on the Brunei academy project, but Berger says this strategy is now being refined with the help of an outside consultant. Berger, who also plans to move to Brunei to take a new job at Imprimis after his stint as interim Piper chief concludes, still expects the academy to open next year.
Geoffrey's brother, Stephen Berger, is Piper chairman and head of Imprimis. Geoffrey Berger says serving as interim chief executive will give him valuable exposure to Piper's operation and the general aviation industry. Groom, who joined Piper earlier this year, says all the changes support a new international-focused strategy that was initiated after the sale to Imprimis.
He says the manufacturer was previously "guilty of being too US focused" and it still relies on the US market for over half of its sales. Groom says while it has been 15 months since Impimis took over, "now all the pieces are starting to come together", and "we're really getting serious about becoming a global company".