Above: an MD 500E
Company’s immediate goals include improving customer support, strengthening supplier relationships, boosting aircraft sales.
MD Helicopters Wednesday announced its new leadership and structure in an online media conference, emphasizing that the company is financially stable and dedicated to aftermarket support and new-aircraft sales growth.
On Aug. 15, 2022, new company MD Helicopters LLC purchased the assets of MD Helicopters Inc., making it the sole owner and removing all ownership and management tied to Patriarch Partners. MD Helicopters LLC is owned by an investment consortium that includes MBIA Insurance Corp., Bardin Hill, MB Global Partners, and other companies with smaller ownership shares. The purchase was a pure swap of debt for equity in the company.
Aerospace industry veteran Brad Pedersen has been named president and CEO of MD Helicopters LLC, bringing to MD more than 35 years of experience in building company growth and financial performance. Pedersen’s history with the company dates to 1983, when he started his career at Hughes Helicopters. He built almost 20 years of experience in engineering and leadership with the MD product line. He has since served in leadership positions at Boeing Rotorcraft, Sikorsky Aircraft, Breeze-Eastern, and others and has helped turn around businesses.
“I feel lucky and humbled to be part of the new organization, and I hope to continue the legacy,” Pedersen said during the event. “MD has a long, rich tradition of building great helicopters, and our intention with our team is to build on that and make it a better company.”
Pedersen is part of a new, seven-member board of directors that includes representatives of the company’s ownership as well as independent industry experts, all chosen for their ability to guide MD’s growth and financial strength. The board’s role is to provide guidance and advice on the company’s operation.
Pedersen said MD is in a strong financial position with a growing list of sales. The company’s immediate goals are to dramatically improve customer support, build and strengthen supplier relationships, and boost aircraft sales. He acknowledged that some growth in this area took place over the past two and a half to three years during the transition, but with full ownership in place, that process can now move forward in earnest.
Pedersen also hinted at work toward upgrading current models with functional improvements but didn’t go into detail other than to suggest that increasing lift and load capabilities and lowering operating costs would be key factors of any changes to come.
MD Helicopters has been restructured into three business units: sales and marketing, aircraft sales, and aftermarket sales. All departments throughout the rest of the company support these three units, which are each run by a VP and are of equal importance, Pedersen said.
“The changes we’re going to make are to address market needs, be better at customer support, and be more responsive in the aftermarket,” Pedersen said. “I think that’s been MD’s biggest issue in the last several years. We need to treat the aftermarket as an essential business. If we don’t treat the customers well and they can’t fly their aircraft or can’t get parts, they’re going to buy from somebody else.”
As part of the restructuring, MD hired a new CFO, VP of aftermarket sales and support, and VP of new-aircraft production.
MD Helicopters will remain in Mesa, Arizona, and maintain its workforce. In fact, Pedersen said the company has several open positions and will be hiring to fill them and further build upon the existing 250-employee workforce.
MD Helicopters will continue to manufacture its current line of helicopters and support those still flying in the field, including the MD 600 and MD 900. The only change customers and suppliers should experience will be improved relationships and better service, Pedersen said.
MD Helicopters LLC was chosen from a group of bidders for the company based on its belief in the MD product, people, and future, as well as its plans to build the company rather than liquidate the assets, according to a fact sheet shared by MD Helicopters LLC.