Bell Helicopter chief executive John Garrison is leaving the company to take over the top leadership post at a non-aerospace company, parent Textron announced on 15 October.

Garrison will become the CEO of Terex, an industrial products company with annual revenues of more than $7 billion, Textron says.

The former Textron and Enron executive joined Bell in 2009 at the depth of the company’s commercial sales trough, but quickly turned the business around. The unveiling of the Bell 407GX and the debut of the 429 restocked the commercial backlog, while the launch of the 505 and 525 models point to the company’s future.

Textron chief executive Scott Donnelly released a statement thanking Garrison for “years of leadership, and his diligence in driving so many improvements in our global rotorcraft business”.

There was no mention of Garrison’s imminent departure when Garrison hosted a news conference on 13 October at the Association of the US Army’s annual meeting in Washington DC.

Textron has already named Bell's executive vice-president for military business, Mitch Snyder, the new chief executive and president of Bell Helicopter. Snyder inherits a company with $4.2 billion in revenues last year, but facing flattening US defence spending and a challenged commercial business with the price of oil halting once-surging demand from oil and gas producers.

Most immediately, Bell must usher the 505 into service, continue development of the delayed 525 and secure new orders to extend production of the Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor. Bell is also offering a “fourth-generation” tiltrotor to the army with the V-280 Valor, although the service has no plans to buy such an aircraft for more than 15 years.

“Mitch steps into the leadership position during one of the most exciting times in Bell’s history,” Donnelly says. “He will focus on extending the great success we’ve built for established programs like the V-22 and H-1 military programmes, while also growing our strong pipeline of new products such as the 525 Relentless, 505 Jet Ranger X and the V-280 Valor — to name just a few.”