Learjet Head Stillwell Resigns to Pursue Own Business Interests
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ Bermar S. ″Bib″ Stillwell has resigned as president and chief operating officer of Gates Learjet Corp. and James B. Taylor has been elected to replace him, the company announced Monday.
Taylor, 63, was elected president and chief executive officer. He had been elected vice chairman and chief executive officer on April 15 and takes over July 1. He joined the company two months ago after serving as president of Canadair North America, a Canadian-based aircraft company.
Learjet is the world’s largest producer of business and executive jet aircraft.
In a statement, Learjet board chairman Charles C. Gates said Stillwell, 57, had decided to resign at the end of June to pursue other business interests but would continue as a director.
Spokesman James Greenwood said the company is going through a transition stage. He said Taylor was brought in with the understanding that Stillwell was planning to step down. ″I wouldn’t characterize it as a forceout,″ he said in response to a question.
Greenwood said the company has been undergoing a management reorganization since Taylor came, with a new senior vice president for marketing having been named already.
″It’s all straightforward; there are no bitter divorces or anything,″ Stillwell said in a telephone interview from his home.
Stillwell said he has ″fairly significant investments outside the company″ including two Arizona ranches, an auto dealership in Tucson and additional interests through a trust arrangement in Australia.
″It had reached the point of did I work for Gates Learjet or did I work for myself?″ he said. ″I just made the decision with Jim (Taylor) on board I could resign without leaving the company without a captain.″
Stillwell also noted that he will continue as a director, and said he has a consulting agreement with the firm and is a stockholder. ″There’s not a severance or whatever ... This just gives me more timme.″
Stillwell joined Gates Learjet as senior vice president for marketing in July 1979, became general manager of the Tucson plant in June 1980 and was elected president in May 1982.
He began distributing its aircraft in 1970 in his native Australia, but gave up the distributorship when he joined the company.
He said he plans to remain in Tucson with his wife and children.
Stillwell said the BMW-Saab-Alfa Romeo dealership’s business has tripled during the time he and his family have owned it - one of the reasons for his decision.
″When you work for a public company, you’re bound to give them, in my terms, 100 minutes of football,″ he said. ″That’s the priority job.″
But he said the other business interests have made it impossible ″to burn the candle at both ends.″