Newly hired CEO of Richmond’s MacDonald, Dettwiler to be based in U.S.

One of Canada’s leading aerospace companies had landed a new CEO beyond its own borders. 

Howard Lance takes over as CEO of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associateson May 16 | Submitted

One of Canada’s leading aerospace companies had landed a new CEO beyond its own borders.

Richmond-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) (TSX:MDA) announced Thursday (April 14) it has hired American Howard Lance to lead the company known for developing the robotic Canadarm for the NASA space shuttle.

Lance, who replaces outgoing CEO Daniel Friedmann, will not be based at the country’s global headquarters when he takes over May 16.

Instead, the former CEO and chairman of Florida-based defence contractor Harris Corporation (NYSE: HRS) will be based out of MDA’s office in Palo Alto, Calif.

“Two-thirds of our business today is in the United States and in order to open up that market, having somebody based there is the best approach. It doesn’t have any impact on the Canadian operation,” Friedmann told Business In Vancouver.

“We need to be in the States and we need to have a clear person so they can talk to the customers, which I can’t today do for many of our customers.”

Friedmann said he and the MDA management team approached the board of directors years ago about relocating the CEO role to the U.S.

The company considered moving Friedmann to the U.S. before ultimately deciding on recruiting an outside candidate already based there.

Friedmann will remain with MDA’s board following the transition.

He said he hasn’t had much time to think about his future as he assists with the transition but he plans to explore other potential jobs once Lance takes over.

“He (Lance) took Harris from $2 billion to $6 billion, which is exactly what we’re trying to do now that we’ve got to $2 billion ourselves,” Friedmann said.

“He’s keen to try to do that again.”

Lance, who was not available for an interview, said in a statement he was “thrilled” to join MDA.