For Vestas, a new boss as winds change
By Erik Siemers
Martha Wyrsch came to Vestas as the wind turbine market began its decline. Two years later, many in the industry think the bottom is near.
Martha Wyrsch came to Vestas as the wind turbine market was sinking from the global financial crisis and she set about rewriting the company's sales strategy.
More than three years later, the up-and-down wind energy is nearing its bottom again.
The federal Production Tax Credit, a key tool in financing wind projects, is set to expire next month. Vestas last month said it would shutter three U.S. research centers, and last week announced plans to lay off as many as 3,000 workers worldwide next year.
None of this, of course, is Wyrsch's fault. According to Vestas, Wyrsch is leaving as president of Vestas' Portland-based U.S. sales and service headquarters on her own accord after directing the division to record performances in sales and installation of turbines. Under Wyrsch, Vestas increased its installed base of turbines in U.S. and Canada by more than 4.7 gigawatts.
“Martha has led an ambitious effort at a time in which wind power growth is especially important," Juan Araluce, the Danish turbine manufacturer's chief sales officer, said in a news release.
Now, though, it's a different time requiring a different type of leader.
Wyrsch's replacement is Chris Brown, 52, who comes in with 16 years of high-level experience in the energy field, though it may be his two years outside of the industry that matter most.
Brown joins Vestas after two years as chief operating officer for Detroit, a city in perpetual crisis mode.
Eric Foster, president of the Detroit-area political consulting firm Foster McCollum White & Associates, said players in the city’s business, political and labor community liked working with Brown and “felt he had a good sense and handle on things operationally.”
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