David Welp has come to Farnborough newly-appointed as president of Texas Instruments' (TI) Systems Group. Previously, Welp was the Group's executive vice-president and deputy and manager of the Advanced Programs Division. A graduate of Iowa State University, Welp has an MSc in electrical engineering from the US Air Force Institute of Technology. He talks to Karen Walker.
Q: As the new boss of TI Systems, how would you summarise the company's overall state of health?
A: I am very excited to be leading a great organisation. We have 11,000 people and $1.7 billion of annual revenues - 15% of that is international. We remain very profitable and have one of the highest returns on assets in the industry.
Q: Do you anticipate growing the international segment of your business?
A: On the international defence side, we anticipate that growth. We try to bring to the customer proven systems out of the US inventory. So we hope that as we produce new systems, they will continue to feed that segment of our market. We believe that our international defence sales will continue to be in the order of 15 to 25% of our defence revenues.
Q: Is the European market an important one for you?
A: Europe is very important - we have HARM (High-speed Anti-Radar Missile) in Germany, Italy and Spain and the Paveway laser-guided bomb is in the UK. We have spent no effort in eastern Europe, although we will visit them occasionally, because there is no significant funding there. But we would look to upgrades there.
Q: What would you highlight as the company's most important production or development programmes?
A: There are two major thrusts of the company: precision-guided weapons and night vision systems. Some 65% of all the precision-guided weapon systems used in Desert Storm were ours. We have delivered more than 16,000 HARMs to the US and others. The UK purchased Paveway and we continue to deliver that programme. Also, we entered production in June with Javelin, our one-person fire-and-forget anti-tank missile and that will be one of our larger programmes for the US Army over the next seven or eight years.
Q: The number of recent large-scale mergers and acquisitions among aerospace companies, especially in the USA, has left TI relatively small. Does this concern you?
A: I do not worry too much about our size. What we are trying to address is whether we have sufficient critical mass to be competitive - that has nothing to do with size. If there is an issue, it is more to do with the degree of vertical integration that is going on, which is certainly happening within some companies. Only about 15% of our business is issued as a sub-contractor to an aircraft prime - most of our contracts are direct to government.
Q: So you don't feel vulnerable?
A: We are always evaluating the situation, but we are confident of where we are and it is not a portfolio that I would trade with anyone.
Q: Have you considered making acquisitions?
A: We are very conservative in how we approach those things and if you are very conservative, you tend not to be at the front of those things. However, we did purchase three small companies toward the end of last year: PhotoTelesis of San Antonio, Texas; SAVI Technology of Mountain View, California; and Advanced C3I Systems - the former Tiberon - of San Jose, California.
Q: What is your internal growth target over the next five years?
A: We are not going to get into a double-digit growth, but we do anticipate a healthy, single-digit growth.
Source: Flight Daily News