Exclusive: Looking Beyond the Numbers
September 18, 2013 By Matt Nicholls
Sept. 18, 2013, Fort Erie, Ont. - Spend a few hours with Eurocopter Canada’s new president/CEO Romain Trapp, and one thing is immediately obvious – this isn’t a hands-off, “hides-in-his office” kind of corporate leader.
Sept. 18, 2013, Fort Erie, Ont. – Spend a few hours with Eurocopter
Canada’s new president/CEO Romain Trapp, and one thing is immediately
obvious – this isn’t a hands-off, “hides-in-his office” kind of
corporate leader. The affable, 41-year-old with the welcoming smile was busy chatting up employees as he, along with director of communications and corporate affairs Laura Senecal and customer service director Gordon Kay, took me on a behind-the-scenes tour of Eurocopter Canada’s Fort Erie, Ont., headquarters in early September.
|Eurocopter Canada’s new
president/CEO Romain Trapp,
sees plenty of growth opportunities
in the year’s ahead, particularly
in law enforcement and EMS.
(Photo by Matt Nicholls)
Eurocopter Canada has steadily grown into a driving force in the Canadian helicopter industry. Established in 1984 and employing some 250 highly-skilled manufacturing and maintenance workers, Eurocopter Canada designs, develops and manufactures aircraft and composite components for the Eurocopter Group’s production lines in France and Germany. The company manufactures some 20 new aircraft and more than 1,500 engine cowling parts each year as well as other components.
With company revenues topping $95 million in 2012 and projected revenues of $114 million this year, the newly appointed Trapp is seeking to build on the success that has enabled Eurocopter Canada to gain 34 per cent of the turbine helicopter fleet in Canada, and as of last year, secure 59 per cent of new turbine deliveries north of the U.S. border.
Trapp sat down with Helicopters to explain his take on the Canadian helicopter industry and reveal his vision for Eurocopter Canada.
Helicopters: Congratulations on your recent appointment as Eurocopter Canada’s new president/CEO. What was your first order of business upon taking over the role?
RT: First of all, thank you for the opportunity. This is my first interview with a publication in Canada; I am glad it could be Helicopters. It is a wonderful opportunity to lead the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in Canada. It is definitely a very exciting job for me, and it’s also a natural move. After five years at American Eurocopter as executive vice-president and then CFO, I gained a lot of experience about the American market, which has a certain number of similarities with the Canadian market. And since I started on July 1, I have met with customers and operators all across the country to gain a strong understanding of the Canadian market and the specific aspects of it.
Helicopters: You have had tremendous success in your career at EADS with the Airbus 380A program in France and Germany, and then in the U.S. market with American Eurocopter. Are there any experiences that come to mind that translate well to your new role here?
|The AS350 B2 has been the
aircraft of choice among
Eurocopter Canada customers
for some time.
(Photo courtesy of Eurocopter)
RT: I think one of the best experiences I have had – and it’s why I am so very proud to be part of this industry – was when American Eurocopter delivered an EC145 to a children’s hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. We had a special ceremony that included the pilots, crews, nurses, paramedics – everyone involved in the process. They were all taking care of children – some one, two years old – with very serious illnesses. It makes you proud to be helping them and saving lives. Our product saves lives, protects people, participates in the growth of the economy and creates jobs.
Helicopters: A great story, one of the real benefits of being able to work in this profession. I’m sure your experiences in France also allowed you to gain a broader perspective of the aerospace industry.
RT: Absolutely. I was very fortunate to be able to work on both the fixed-wing and rotary-wing sides. It’s all about aviation and it’s such a fascinating field. I am not a pilot, but I understand the role [piloting] plays and how it connects people. I remember when I first worked for Airbus in Toulouse, I had an opportunity to tour the facility with my grandfather, who was 90 years old at the time. He had never flown in an aircraft. Showing him the large fixed-wing aircraft, it was absolutely incredible. He was so proud of me to be part of building such a tremendous product. I was a finance guy. I wasn’t turning the wrench, but he was so proud of me. I was really proud of that, too.
Helicopters: What are the growth opportunities for Eurocopter Canada in both the civil and military markets over the next few years?
RT: We have been the civil market leader in Canada for more than 10 years and have a strong leadership position in the utility, law enforcement and corporate markets. But so far, we have not had the same success on the military side, even though Eurocopter remains the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world. I am looking forward to demonstrating the capabilities of the Eurocopter product line to the Canadian military.
In terms of the civil market share, there is growth in both the oil and gas and hydro markets. This year, mining and forestry activities are down, but at the same time these markets are cyclical. These markets are going to come back – perhaps not at the beginning of next year, but for sure at some point no later than two years from now. This is the way it is with all the commodities in Canada.
Helicopters: In terms of product development, the aging Canadian fleet offers real opportunity for Eurocopter Canada. Which aircraft will best suit the needs of Canadian operators in the future?
RT: With our AStar family, on the single-engine side, we are the market leader. The AS350 B2 has been the aircraft of choice with our customers, and what we are seeing, is the B3e is becoming the standard. We have delivered 10 B3e’s this year already with more to come. The trend is definitely from the B2 to the B3e. Operators appreciate the improved performance, affordability. . .and as I remind everyone at our facility daily, we want to make the best aircraft, the most reliable aircraft, the safest aircraft – that’s the goal. For the price difference between the B2 and the B3e, when you have the choice and it fits your market, it makes sense to switch. When you want to expand or be able to manage more diverse missions, the B3e is the machine of choice.
For the complete interview, see the Oct/Nov/Dec issue of Helicopters magazine.