RENTON, Wash. – Six and a half months into his tenure as Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ president and CEO, Kevin McAllister is mindful of the challenges that lie ahead for one of America’s top manufacturers – and draws upon a cautionary tale from his childhood in America’s industrial heartland.
McAllister grew up in Bethlehem, Pa., and remembers well what happened to Bethlehem Steel. The company was once America’s second-largest steel producer, but it went bankrupt in 2001 and faded away, along with much of the nation’s steel industry.
Today, the site of Bethlehem’s shut-down plant is a city park. But in his office, McAllister keeps a painting of the mill as it looked in its heyday.
“It’s kind of corny,” McAllister admitted last week at Boeing’s offices in Longacres Industrial Park, during his first extended “meet the press” session as a Boeing executive. “It’s just a reminder that as a company we’ve got to reinvent ourselves every day.”