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Spirit Aerosystems CEO Turner To Retire

By: Chris Frank, Wichita Business Journal Email
By: Chris Frank, Wichita Business Journal Email

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UPDATE: Monday, November 19, 2012

A surprise comes from the leader of Wichita’s largest aviation company. Spirit Aerosystems President and CEO Jeff Turner says he’s retiring early next year. He says he’ll stay in office until successor takes office.

For the more than 10,000 Spirit employees in Wichita alone, Turner is the only president and CEO they've worked under. Employees were caught off guard to the news their leader will be stepping down.

"He was a good CEO for what he could do for his tenure here," said Sprit employee Jeremy Winegarner.

A company news release quotes Turner advising Spirit’s board of directors of his intentions to retire in early 2013 to ensure adequate time to find a replacement.

"I don't think it's a good thing,” said Spirit employee Steve Ellis. “As far as I'm concerned, I like Turner. And he did a lot for the employees."

Nothing in the release hints of Turner being forced out, but rather this being his own decision.

It’s been a trying year for Turner and Spirit. The plant took a direct hit from a tornado April 14, temporarily stopping production. More recently, Spirit announced taking a third quarter charge of more than $200 million, which cut Spirit’s stock value by a third in one day.

But employees say they like Turner.

"He was an employee kind of a CEO,” Ellis said. “He was for us."

Local leaders are also surprised Turner will retire.

"Jeff has been kind of an icon here for many, many years ever since the birth of Spirit Aerosystems,” said Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer. “There were no indicators."

"But the good news is he's built a great team,” said Congressman Mike Pompeo. “This facility is important to the entire aviation supply chain. It's just a little bit sad that he's taking off, that he's leaving us because we're really going to miss him."

It will be important to employees and the community as a whole who is selected to lead Spirit Aerosystems after Jeff Turner retires.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jeff Turner, Spirit AeroSystems Inc. CEO since the company was created in 2005, will retire early next year, according to a news release on the company’s website.

“I decided to inform the Board of Directors of my intention to retire in early 2013 to ensure adequate time to find a suitable replacement, and allow for an effective handover of duties,” said Turner in the release. “I am proud of the great company we have formed, the growth we have achieved since 2005 and the solid opportunities for the future. I am now looking forward to the next phase in my life, and handing over the reins to a new CEO to take Spirit forward.”

Spirit’s board of directors has already convened a special CEO search committee.

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