Service Fusion: Bell Pools Support Network

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OEM brings subsidiaries under single banner to project 'common look, common feel' for operators.

By Andrew Parker, Rotor And Wing Senior Editor

In an effort to make things simple for customers, Bell Helicopter Textron has brought six former subsidiaries under its corporate umbrella. Edwards & Associates, Rotor Blades, Acadian Composites, Bell Aerospace Services and U.S. Helicopter are now part of Bell, while a sixth subsidiary—Aeronautical Associates—will continue to offer parts and accessories using its brand while being incorporated into the OEM’s internal systems and processes.

According to Danny Maldonado, senior vice president of customer support and chief service officer, the consolidation effort began about a year ago. Following internal discussions with each of the subsidiaries, “we started getting indications back that it was a little bit difficult to do business with Bell and then all these other separate entities—different contracts, different terms, different people to deal with.” So the manufacturer asked the question: “What’s the best way to incorporate those companies back into Bell Helicopter?”

As a result, Bell concluded that merging its support entities would give operators “a comprehensive service offering,” he says. “It’s easier doing business with Bell and gives customers faster service, while at the same time our employees and companies benefit from the additional channel that we’re offering them. At the end of the day, operators have an OEM solution for all their services.”

Maldonado described the consolidations as another step in continuing President & CEO John Garrison’s message that Bell is “on a mission to get back into the commercial market.” Maldonado adds that the company will “continue to make changes. We’re not just sitting back and just enjoying it [being ranked as a top customer service provider], we understand that other people are making changes/improvements, and we want to stay on top of it.”

One of the biggest advantages to the fusion is a “common feel and common look” to each of the sites, he says. “At any facility, now that they’re part of Bell Helicopter, [operators] have access to all the information, all the people, all the resources within Bell. They don’t have to go to multiple locations.” This leads to the concept that “if you buy a Bell helicopter, we’re going to service you from start to finish, throughout the whole life cycle of the aircraft.”

Aeronautical Associates underwent the same processes as the other five subsidiaries to become integrated into Bell’s Customer Support division, but “they weren’t fully transitioned in, only because they offer services to other OEMs,” Maldonado explains. “We want to keep that channel open [in order to] remain flexible for our customers and yet be able to support the other OEMs and other vendors that buy parts from us.” Other Bell affiliates Edwards Rotorcraft Solutions, McTurbine and SkyBOOKS are not part of the integration effort. “As we move forward, we are looking at how to approach those companies,” Maldonado says. “No matter what they’re [already] fully integrated into [Customer Services], so they report to us, they have the same briefings, information, response to customers—so everything’s already pretty much linked other than their names right now.”

Initially, after a “slow start” regarding internal response to the changes, employees are “all on board” and Bell is getting “positive feedback” from the former subsidiaries, he says. “There might have been some title changes, but more than anything, the biggest thing is they got aligned into the different organizations within Bell Helicopter, so that now they have a link back into Bell and the OEM,” Maldonado adds. Bell’s international network of service and support locations now covers 13 locations, employing more than 1,700 people. The business sector contributes more than a third of the company’s annual revenue, according to Bell.

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