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20 years, probably most of them over 25 years.

The company overall has high retention of its employees. We have hardly any turnover.

RPM:: Obviously your engineering abilities have been a key ingredi- ent in your success, but there are many talented engineers out there who would not have been able to do what you’ve done in the business world. What do you credit for your business success? FR: Common sense. Keeping things simple and of course designing a

lightweight, low-cost machine. I’ve relied on just plain common sense for all of that.

RPM:: How did you settle on the Los Angeles area, specifically the city of Torrance, as the place to locate your company? FR: At the beginning I knew what I was going to try and do. I want-

ed to build my own company and my own helicopter. I made a list of the areas that would be suitable to start a new company. Los Angeles was on the list, because compared to anywhere else; the weather is so damn good out here.

was great; other places you can’t do that.

The idea that I could do test flying almost any day of the year There are also a lot of employees

available, so it was a good choice. The State of California isn’t a great place to start a company because the taxes here are so high.

But you always have

to give up something. RPM:: Have you ever thought about moving out of Torrance to a dif-

ferent location? FR: I’ve thought about it. I was going to move it to Santa Maria at

one point. The City of Torrance heard that I was planning to move and came to me. They really wanted me to stay in Torrance. it would take to get me to keep the company here.

It turned out it’s been good for both of us. to work with and I think we’ve been a good tenant.

RPM:: In the last 50 plus years that you’ve been in the helicopter industry what do you think has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome? FR:

There’s a constant battle with bureaucracy in the Federal

Government. However, we actually have a good relationship with the FAA overall. Money, all the early years it was money. Money was the thing that kept you awake at night, wondering how you were going to make the pay- roll on Friday.

But once I got over that hump things have gone pretty well in most respects.

RPM:: During that same time what has been the biggest breakthrough in the helicopter industry? FR: I’m not sure there has been one. It’s been a lot of smaller, indi- vidual incremental improvements that have brought it to where it is now.

RPM:: During your career how have you seen the industry change and where do you see helicopter development going in the next 10 to 20 years? FR: Unfortunately they’ve made everything a lot more complicated and

So they asked me what I read off a wish list of

things that I would want such as a low cost rental property and building per- mits. It was quite a list and it all got done. here.

They really wanted me to stay It’s been an excellent city

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