Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cuts at EAA

It appears to be Black Thursday at the EAA. From what I am told, Twenty to 30 people were let go today, including the people who put together the electronic newsletters (and including Fareed Guyout, who has been a very good friend to the homebuilder community and EAA Radio's efforts during Oshkosh).

The people who were let go were told to leave immediately and there is a staff meeting getting underway today at 4pm (CT) for those who remain.

I don't yet know if there was a funding reduction somewhere or if this is a strategic shift but have messages in to EAA.

Update 4:43 p.m. More information from inside:

* The cuts appear to be more than 35 people.

* Two staff laisons to EAA Radio were cut.

* The entire E-pubs division was cut (except Ric Reynolds).

* All video and photography was cut. (Goodbye, Tips for Homebuilders?)

A recently appointed VP (& new head of AirVenture) is rumored to have resigned in protest.

Update 5:24 p.m. Just got an email response from Dick Knapinski.
Here's the release he just put out:

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. — (Jan. 12, 2012) — EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower today announced changes that will allow the 170,000-member organization to better fulfill its mission to grow participation in aviation. EAA is strengthening and reshaping the organization to capture the opportunities within its long-term strategic plan. As a result, the organization will be adding important capabilities, and aligning its resources with strategic priorities

“This will strengthen our organization in several key areas to more effectively meet the needs of our members, donors and aviators,” Hightower said. “We’ve made these moves after spending the past year reviewing EAA’s operations to best align them with the organization’s goals, and listening to many EAA members and supporters regarding the most valued areas of EAA.”

The changes include the addition of new positions, transfers of responsibilities, and the elimination of some positions. There are also senior leadership changes as well, including:

Jeff Skiles – Vice President, Chapters and Youth Education. Skiles is already well known as one of the famed “Miracle on the Hudson” pilots and for the past two years as Young Eagles co-chairman. He brings a wealth of aviation experience and passion to this new role as EAA strengthens and expands its global Chapter network and industry-leading Youth Education initiatives and programs.

Chad Jensen – Manager of EAA’s Homebuilders Community. Jensen brings extensive homebuilding experience and aviation skills to this important role as EAA increases its knowledge and information capabilities for Homebuilders and the amateur-built segment of aviation. He will have extensive involvement with Flight Advisors, Tech Counselors and the passionate community of builders.

Heidi Strand of Blue Door Consulting in Oshkosh will lead EAA Marketing on an interim basis while EAA completes a search for a Vice President of Marketing. Strand will lead EAA’s brand and marketing capabilities and also be responsible for EAA digital media properties and strategy.

Vice President, AirVenture. This newly created role will lead the world’s premier aviation event to continued growth and importance as the preeminent general aviation marketplace.

“Much thought and collaboration has been invested in the reshaping process to make EAA a stronger organization, better equipped to lead aviation and welcome the next generation of aviators,” Hightower said.


Update 5:29 p.m. RVer Chad Jensen, homebuilt community manager, moves to senior leadership position.

Update 5:47 p.m. More names of the departed leaking out: Steve Buss (Young Eagles and Chapter relations), Ron Wagner, Sue Lurvey, Adam Smith.

Update 5:51 p.m. Adam Smith, AirVenture manager and VP resigned.

Update 7:13 p.m. Also out: Jim Koepnick of EAA photo, Rob McAllister of EAA video. There is still video/photo capability Jim Soyk, still on staff.

25 comments:

  1. hopefully j mac mcclellan is out and can go back to Flying mag...

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  2. Sounds like EAA needs a Chief Strategist. Also sounds like there might be a slot for John Burton.

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    1. I think they have a Chief Strategist. His name is Hightower. His strategy just isn't the one that you or I would have selected.

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    2. Sounds like the strategis is Heidi Strand, "Heidi Strand of Blue Door Consulting in Oshkosh will lead EAA Marketing on an interim basis while EAA completes a search for a Vice President of Marketing. Strand will lead EAA’s brand and marketing capabilities and also be responsible for EAA digital media properties and strategy."

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  3. former volunteer (never again!)January 13, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    Hi, anonymous....No, of course cover boy Mac Mcclellan isn't out. Why would he be? Lives in Michigan, flies across the lake when he wishes to, writes his usual arrogant style. Doubt Flying wants him back.
    Hightower never moved his family from St. Louis as he said he would (no houses grand enough in Oshkosh?)
    John Burton is just fine where he is and lots warmer!
    EAA, as most of us long timers know it, is gone forever. Positive change is fine; this change is rotten.

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  4. mac mcclellan is still in and taking more of a roll (Video/Photo/publication/etc.)

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  5. Time to stop donating to EAA ..!!!
    I'll never go back to Oshkosh nor attend any of their
    Events. I will Fly Young Eagles on my own.

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    Replies
    1. Can I have your hotel reservation? ;)

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  6. Nope! Donations=OVER. WTH is this about? This new so-called 'leader' is an idiot!
    -Long time ago EAA Art Director

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  7. We believe the actions at EAA are appalling, and were orchestrated based upon unwarranted disrespect to it's staff, it's members and the organization as a whole.

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  8. I stopped about 3 years ago saw no benefit in sending $40.00 dollars a year to support a few high payed officials that only were concerned with them self only and it had moved way to far from home building. the last time i went to Oshkosh it looked like a sails yard for Biz jets that had no interest to me at all the eaa has lost its meaning

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  9. I to am done. I never liked the change in Sport Aviation mag two ways, first its stay from informative home built information, it became a Flying Mag clone which I don't read. Second the change in physical size made no sense. I find the best publication is Kitplanes. I'm done,after 45 years no more $40.00 a year, no more Oshkosh. I'll spend the money on Kitplanes, my aircraft and informative group newsletters.

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  10. Kitplanes recently gassed Marc Cook. I'm not sure there's anybody left in editorial management who's ever built a plane. The articles of late have not been very hands-on helpful, but that may reflect on the death of Bob Fritz who seems to have made the mag what it was.

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  11. I voluntered all over the place at Oshkosh and some blue collar employees call the offices on the horizon the ( Museum )crystall palace. I have also voluntered in the crystall place and I can tell you some of them were out of control taking alot of personal time especially when tom was gone. I even overheard some of them tell each other they couldn't wait untill oshkosh was over and we would all leave. Further, I could feel that they had no real sence of loyalty to the orginazation and no real sence of urgency to help or get things done. I'm not saying all but some. Rod probably picked up on it and some of those discharged might have lit the fuse to their own rocket. From what I hear Paul was in approval of the changes. Thank god for greyhoud some of them are gone.

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    1. Actually, as one of those that was downsized, I will tell you that I loved the organization, it was my home, and worked hard for it..I love the members. Whoever you heard is probably still there, unfortunately. It was and still is hugely sad for me.

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  12. I used to work for Basler Flight service at KOSH, I was the ramp supervisor during the show. The last 2 years I made the prediction that this would happen. Starting with EAA's lack of focus on thier core, homebuilders. When I started seeing Falcon 50s land and taxi over to Weeks for sponsor meetings I knew something was going to change. EAA's aviation ops focus during the year the last few years was purely business.

    My prediction is that the SHOW and maybe EAA as an organization will die, and within 10 years or less will be reborn maybe through EAA, probably through some other organization, in it's pure form. Pilots who build getting together to build better, and have some fun as a building community.

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  13. As a past president of Chapter 1158, at KETB in West Bend Wisconsin, I was shocked and disappointed at the changes. When I heard Adam Smith resigned, my mouth dropped. What sort of corporate BS happened? Paul P. has said "EAA is about the people"... yeah right. What about the people that helped build this organization and were our go-to people in Oshkosh. Chapter 1158 has threatened in the past to become AOPA Chapter 1... and this discussion I believe will happen again shortly here in West Bend. I don't know if I can be part of an organization where the top level is so detached from the rest. I'll continue to go to the show... but not support it as in the past.

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  14. Member since 1975. volunteer with Young Eagles and other areas as needed. have noted a trend away from the roots of EAA. some of the hard workers are now gone and will be hard to replace. Have known Paul P. for years and will visit with him for his thoughts on this

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  15. There seems to have been a real shift in the direction of the EAA organization in recent years. Having been a member for many years and a volunteer on site for AirVenture each year for many years, it seems that they have become more about corporate jets and a competition between the those companies for biggest donations. We have known Matt Miller for years and were shocked to hear about his demise from EAA. Matt Miller lived and breathed EAA! The people who know him and volunteered countless hours for him aka, EAA, can't understand why he is gone, as well as others like him. They were the "living, breathing" part of EAA for all members, not a select few. Where would this organization be without its volunteers and the work and support they provide?? Maybe those who support the core values and direction of this organization, need to split off into their own direction so the sake of keeping the integrity of the homebuilders and the true lovers of aviation.

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    1. I know, as one of those cut also..I was deeply saddened..I love EAA, still do. I keep thinking I need to be getting ready for AirVenture.. :(

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  16. Matt Miller? That is a hard one to swallow. I'm sorry to see him go. He seemed like a good worker but we only see him one week out of 52. I also know Rod and he is also a good man. At the end of the day I support Rod and any decisions he makes.

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  17. One of the most effective ways to make your voice heard is in the EAA pocketbook. Don't renew, don't fly your airplane up there, don't even go.

    Do Not Occupy Oshkosh.

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  18. I was one of those who had their job eliminated only to see my exact same job being posted as an opening. EAA is falling apart. Many of the staff (especially upper management)have resigned since January and continue to do so. The remaining staff suffer from poor morale, general disorganization, and clear lack of leadership. The ones who lost their jobs were told to leave immediately and this left all of their workloads sitting at their desk. In my case, nobody knew how to do my job and I was sent an email asking to help in the transition. No. This did not include pay, but I helped because I care. Rod Hightower is a disgrace and his changes were not well thought out. He really ruined a good organization as well as displacing a lot of dedicated employees. I cannot see the "vision" nor can my former coworkers who keep me informed of the turmoil.

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  19. We need to firstly, keep this wonderful organization alive. As a member since 1987, I love the what EAA stands for and those that put all the hard work into it. I am disheartened to see this "transition" taking place. We must voice our opinions but we must also make certain that we do what we can to lift EAA back towards the greatness that we have seen in the past. I do agree that the EAA has gotten away from the homebuilding aspect that was the catalyst for its creation. But we also have to keep all avenues of interest in aviation at the forefront.

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  20. When Rod was VP and General Manger of York International Europe he destroyed the organization and profitability of a 100 year origination in three years. I was astonished that EAA hired him. He was the most selfish, self centered person I ever worked with. As a shareholder and emplotee of York I was so happy to see him leave York International.

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