With Eclipse founder Vern Raburn out of the picture, the task of putting the troubled VLJ manufacturer on the path to profitability rests on the shoulders of the company’s new chairman and CEO, Roel Pieper. As the chairman of the Netherlands-based European Technology and Investment Research Center (Etirc), Pieper invested more than $100 million in Eclipse earlier this year, which included a minority stake, the right to build an assembly plant in Russia (scheduled to begin operating late next year) and distributorship rights to sell, service and provide training for the Eclipse 500 in 60 countries in Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, the CIS and Turkey.
Pieper has served as acting head of the Albuquerque N.M.-based Eclipse since July, when Raburn was forced out as a condition of the company’s securing new funding. With a reputation for successfully restructuring ailing companies, Pieper has started the process with Eclipse, separating it into two discrete divisions as part of an “operational excellence strategy” as well as downsizing and reorganizing the company’s workforce.
A Holland-born IT entrepreneur, Pieper began his career at Software AG in Germany, where he served nearly 10 years, ultimately holding the position of chief technology officer. Since then he has held a number of leadership positions in the computer industry. After a stint as president and CEO at AT&T’s Unix Systems Labs, Pieper took on the same roles at UB Networks and later parent company Tandem Computers, where he spearheaded a turnaround in the company before its $3 billion merger with Compaq. He later served as executive v-p of Royal Philips Electronics and was a member of the company’s board of directors until 1999. He was also a director at Computer Associates and served as a professor of electronic commerce at the University of Twente, in the Netherlands.
In 2001 Pieper founded the European investment fund Favonius Ventures–which specializes in venture buyouts, corporate spinoffs and growth capital expansion financing–which today is worth approximately $77 million, according to industry sources.