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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Garrison: Support Paramount to Global Expansion

India, China, Brazil among key markets Bell targets for international expansion.

By Andrew Parker, Senior Editor

Bell Helicopter employees have been hearing President & CEO John Garrison use the phrase “one Bell, on a mission” for a while now. During an Oct. 11 interview at AUSA, he explained that the company’s mission is to support the customer, with an eastern European hub coming online recently in Prague, a Singapore service facility expected to open early in 2012, and agreements in China and India on the horizon.

In Singapore, the helicopter maker plans to co-locate with its fixed-wing sister company, Cessna. Garrison explained that “Cessna will service their customers, we’ll service ours, so we’re not going to lose our brand identity,” adding that capital and overhead expenses to run the facility will be shared. The Singapore location will feature a training depot and a completion center.

“We’re looking at other opportunities in India through partnership, as well as China through partnership. It’s too early for me to talk about those, but we’re doing that on the customer service and support side,” Garrison said, adding that Brazil is another place where “there may be an opportunity.”

Describing Bell Helicopter’s aftermarket support business as a “buffer as aircraft sales ebb and flow,” Garrison noted the company is investing in its overseas support network to expand the number of services available, and to “make sure as we’re going after market share and gaining market share back in regions that were lost over time—or markets that we haven’t traditionally been in like China—that we have a customer service footprint.”

According to Garrison, Bell is “heavily focused” on expanding into India, China and Brazil. “When you look at helicopters per capita in those market segments, they really don’t have EMS, very little airborne law enforcement applications and very little corporate—especially in China.”

Bell believes “that those markets can open up and grow,” Garrison said. “I was just in China a couple weeks ago and I think China’s going to move faster than we originally thought,” he continued, adding that the China market “could really explode.”

Garrison also talked sales in other global markets, including Europe, where the company is looking to re-establish its base. “Because of our market position it can be a growth market for Bell,” he said, adding that the company is adding to its sales force in Europe. The Middle East also offers a number of opportunities for the new 407 variants—the GX and AH, or armed version—the 429 and the 412 for close-in offshore operations, he added.

Bell’s president and CEO also spoke about a number of other military and commercial programs during the interview at AUSA. See more of the interview in the November print edition of Rotor & Wing and read the full story starting November 1 at www.rotorandwing.com

More: China Certifies Bell 429

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