- August 17, 2010, 12:04 PM
Frank Robinson, 80, has retired from the iconic helicopter company he founded in 1973, just weeks before the company expects to receive certification of its R66 turbine single. The company announced on Friday that Robinson’s son Kurt, 53, currently a Robinson vice president, would take the titles of president and chairman. Kurt Robinson has been with the company since 1987 and holds an MBA, a law degree and a commercial helicopter rating. Frank Robinson worked for a variety of helicopter companies and unsuccessfully tried to interest all of them in building an economical piston-powered helicopter before founding Robinson Helicopter at his kitchen table and subsequently building it into the world’s largest producer of civil helicopters. Approximately 65 percent of its sales of R22 and R44 piston engine models are exports. Today, Robinson employs more than 1,000 people at its 480,000-sq-ft Torrance, Calif. plant. Robinson will deliver its 10,000th helicopter late this year or early next. Kurt Robinson said his father had been grooming a succession team of senior company executives for years and that he plans to continue the company’s practices of streamlined management and centralized manufacturing.