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Mills named interim president, CEO at Erickson

Andy Mills is been named interim president and CEO at Erickson.

Mills has been a manager and executive for the aviation services company, best known for its fleet of Sikorsky heavy-lift helicopters, since 2012. He succeeds Jeff Roberts, who led Erickson for two years in which debt and declining energy exploration resulted in the company seeking Chapter 11 court protection.

With a fresh balance sheet in hand, Mills intends to be more than a caretaker. Erickson operates plants employing more than 300 at the Medford airport, Willow Springs Road in Central Point and Kirkland Road in White City.

"Erickson has a chance to stand on its own two feet again," he said. "We see it as the next chapter in its 46-year history."

Erickson revenue crested at $346.6 million before its collapse.

Mills indicated the company's turnaround will be strong in 2017, spurred by maintenance and repair operations.

"I'm really bullish on revenue for the rest of the year," he said.

The company has renegotiated leases on small helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

"Our cash flow and liquidity are vastly improved," Mill said "We've (reduced) our debt and got rid of onerous aircraft leases."

Mills joined Erickson in 2012 as general manager of aircrane operations, overseeing the firm's 20 Sikorsky 64s. In November 2014, he was named vice president and general manager of commercial aviation, tacking on sales and marketing oversight. In January 2016, Mills was named vice president of global business development and charged with developing corporate strategy, including mergers and acquisitions.

Mills was previously general manager for Carson Helicopters' Western Division, based in Grants Pass between 2008 and 2012.  From 2003-08, he was operations director for Swanson Group Aviation in Grants Pass.

Erickson's primary operating fleet includes 22 medium-lift helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

"We actually landed new contracts as we've gone through the process," Mills said. "We are picking up the pace in a couple areas. We're seeing growth in power and transmission line building."

During the recent South American fire season, Erickson redeployed an S-64 from Peru to Chile. That meant hopping over the Andes in poor weather conditions and low visibility.

"We were extremely well received by the Chilean government, and we hope to have return work there next year," Mills said.

Roberts was appointed CEO in March 2015 after Erickson began a precipitous financial decline that culminated with the company filing for court protection last November. Erickson, whose shares have been publicly traded since April 2012, emerged from bankruptcy as a private firm April 28. Roberts resigned May 5, although no announcement was made for another 10 days.

"The Erickson board thanks Jeff for his service to Erickson," the company said in its release.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.