President And CEO
Guy C. Hachey started his career 30 years ago in the automotive industry with General Motors (GM) in Canada and the U.S., which led to him heading Delphi Automotive Systems as President of its Chassis Systems Division. He oversaw a $5.5 billion U.S. business with 16 product lines, 30 plants and over 30,000 employees. He made the switch to aerospace very recently, in April 2008. We met with him at the NBAA show in Orlando recently to ask him how he views his new responsibilities and the future of private aviation.
ET: So what brought you to Bombardier and the private aviation industry?
Guy Hachey: I spent 30 years in the auto industry, just outside of Montreal, and enjoyed a very gratifying career. But recently I was approached about the opportunity at Bombardier. Coming from Montreal and being a Canadian, it intrigued me quite a bit. Bombardier has had a long history in Canada. And as I explored the opportunity, I got more and more interested—particularly as I looked at the prospects. So it was an opportunity to join a very exciting industry, but in addition to that, it was kind of like going back home.
ET: Are there similarities between the automotive industry and private aviation?
Guy Hachey: We’re talking about industries that are very complex, that have long lead times, that require a lot of engineering capability and design. There’s also the emotional appeal of the products. In the car industry certain segments carry a great deal of emotional appeal. It’s the same with private aviation, it’s about emotion and passion. So those are the similarities. The manufacturing process is somewhat similar, too. There’s difference in terms of scale and volume but, in general, I see a lot of similarities along those lines.
ET: What are the differences from your standpoint?
Guy Hachey: If you look at the auto industry there’s a multitude of competitors. In the private aerospace industry there’s just not that many. We cater to a different clientele obviously, so that is a major difference. The supply base is different, too. There’re fewer suppliers for airplanes than for cars. I would also say the transactional side is much more personal in private aviation.
ET: What does the President of Bombardier Aerospace oversee exactly?
Guy Hachey: I oversee all of the aerospace activities for Bombardier. It’s essentially an $10 billion company at this point in time and growing very fast. We have three major segments to the company. The largest one being the business aircraft segment, where we have a very extensive portfolio of products, in fact, it’s the industry’s largest. Our commercial aircraft segment, includes both regional jets and the Q Series of turboprop aircraft, as well. We just announced the launch of a major new aircraft, the C Series. And then we have quite an extensive customer service and support group. So those are the three major businesses that I’m responsible for.
ET: Previously, in the automotive business, you oversaw the Middle East, and I know this is an important market for Bombardier, too. For any of the readers who might see all of the things that are going on in the Gulf countries, and are looking to expand their businesses there, what advice could you them?
Guy Hachey: There’s tremendous opportunity. And if you look at what happened most recently in the world, you know the region seems to be more insulated than many others. Essentially, every other market in the world has been affected by the global economic crisis, but yet in the Middle East things seem to be going relatively well. I would say that having feet on the ground that really understand the region is key. It’s a very different market, very relationship-oriented. So you can assume certain things about Western Europe or even in Asia, but in the Middle East you have to be there. It’s based on long-term relationships. And being there and establishing those relationships is very, very important.
ET: What’s your outlook for the business aviation industry over the next, say, 3-5 years? Will growth continue to come from outside of North America.
Guy Hachey: Last year, the order intake we had was 30 percent for North America and 70 percent international. So obviously our customer base is diversifying. In the past it was more like 70 percent North America, 30 percent international. So there’s a huge swing happening in our customer base. In terms of a longer-term view, obviously we’re monitoring the situation very closely right now. I hate to refer to the economy, but it is there. It’s top of mind. So in the short run we do expect something of a slowdown. Our customers are cautious. But we think the long-term fundamentals are still there. We predict very, very high growth for business aircraft use as a productivity tool. Wealth is being created in the rest of the world. GDPs are going up in general. So we see long-term demand increasing for business aircraft. We also see good opportunity, from an infrastructure standpoint, for regional jets. On top of that, the fleet age for our traditional customers, commercial airlines, is getting up there. So this means a robust business in selling replacements. We see a bright future in the long run. In the short run, we’ve got to observe, monitor….make sure we’re careful in our decisions.
ET: I know Bombardier has vertical integration with Flexjet, the fractional ownership and card provider. Do you see that as the type of model you’re going to continue to stay with going forward?
Guy Hachey: Flexjet is an important part of our operaton. It complements our strategy. You know, we obviously are in the business of making and selling planes. Flexjet is a very large customer, even though they’re part of the family. So they have a fleet of, roughly, 100 planes. They replace the aircraft on an ongoing basis so the aircraft age is consistently young. It’s a really good for us to get our potential customers used to flying in our aircraft. It’s a very healthy situation for us to have Flexjet as part of our portfolio. So we don’t see a change in that situation.
ET: Any hobbies or passions outside of work?
Guy Hachey: Before I got into my new job I had a lot of hobbies. Right now I’m sort of absorbed with the new responsibilities. I’m an avid golfer. So when I have a chance, I do go out and golf. I am also pretty fanatical about exercising, so that takes up a lot of time. And I make time for my children—even though they’re grown up. My daughter’s a professional ballerina , so I spend some time visiting her in New York, but I’ll go watch her, wherever she is in the world. My son is in golf school, so I like to go out and get beaten up by him, too.
ET: What’s your handicap?
Guy Hachey: That’s not for public information—but it used to be a lot better than it is right now.
ET: Any great golf course recommendations?
Guy Hachey: I guess if I had one dream-golf wish I would go to Augusta National. I’ve never had a chance to play that one. So if there’s a customer out there that wants to invite me, I’ll go.
ET: What is Bombardier’s business philosophy?
Guy Hachey: One thing about our company—it really has a genuine family feel and atmosphere—the grandson of the founder is now the CEO. That’s the reason I came. Whoever is reading right now, don’t hesitate to call us. Call me personally at (514) 855-7910. We will delight you and amaze you with our customer experience and with our products.