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HoekSCUMa Declines Interview

Steveair

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http://www.jsonline.com/business/49284182.html



Midwest Air CEO exiting in faded glory

Hoeksema built airline's reputation for excellence


From the very beginning to what some regard as the end, in spirit if not in name, one man has run Midwest Airlines.
Tim Hoeksema hatched the idea. Defying conventional wisdom, he made it work.
Under his leadership - and he is the only leader Midwest has ever had - the company became a much-admired, almost-beloved Milwaukee institution.
Attentive to detail, persistent, proud, analytical, gentlemanly and highly regarded for his ethics, Hoeksema has been the quintessential hands-on executive.
Now, he's retiring. But not from the Midwest of old.
At 62, Hoeksema, who built Midwest from the ground up, is stepping away from a battered company in an industry that's been rocked by recession, intense competition and volatile fuel prices.
Where Midwest in the 1990s was consistently profitable, the company since 2001 has piled up frequent financial losses, slashed 40% of its jobs, abandoned many of its famous amenities, flirted with bankruptcy and, now, is being sold for $6 million cash and a $25 million IOU convertible into stock.
How Hoeksema feels about his impending departure - he will leave when the planned sale of Midwest to Indianapolis' Republic Airways presumably closes in a few weeks - isn't known. He declined to be interviewed.
Former Midwest executive Carol Skornicka downplayed the emotional aspect. Skornicka, who worked with Hoeksema from 1996 through 2007, said he always planned to retire on the company's 25th anniversary, which falls this year.
"He's just dying to spend more time with his grandkids," Skornicka said. "He's got a big family and he loves to spend time with them, and he's really been robbed of them . . . when the business demands are so strong."
'Losing a child'

Others, though, doubt it will be so easy for Hoeksema to leave what he's built, especially considering what has happened over the last few years.
"I've got to think that it's not unlike losing a child," said attorney Franklyn Gimbel, who has dealt directly with Hoeksema on matters related to the Midwest Airlines Center. "I really think that he considered this company to be his baby."
Gimbel called Hoeksema courteous, honorable and highly ethical - "even when we disagreed, and sometimes at a pitch that was maybe above conversation."
"I've got to think, the way I know him - he's a very, very proud person - that what happened in the last week, which was the culmination of more than a year's worth of bad tidings, was very painful for him, whether he says so or not."
Hoeksema isn't universally loved. He drew harsh criticism from some people posting remarks on an online forum last week after Republic announced it would buy Midwest from the Texas investment firm that has owned the airline for about a year and a half.
Toni Higgins, president of the Midwest chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, said Hoeksema has been intensely anti-union.
"The employees are not heartbroken," she said of his retirement. "They can't wait 'til he goes."
But others give Hoeksema high marks as a businessman and as a person.
"He has a very positive legacy," said Dean Amhaus, president of the Spirit of Milwaukee, a civic organization with ties to Midwest.
Hoeksema, Amhaus said, is perceived as "one of these good guys who is ever committed to Milwaukee."
"I would say that his legacy is best described through Milwaukee's loyalty in flying Midwest, some might say almost to a fault," said Timothy Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
"He did such a good job of integrating the airline with the community that people . . . felt they were flying their hometown around the country," Sheehy said. "There was pride in it, there was recognition in it and it was a good quality airline. The fact that that business model could not withstand the economics of the industry is the story that's playing out now."
Sheehy said Hoeksema has talked up Milwaukee as a place to do business, brought in CEOs to look the area over and devoted extensive time to charities such as HeartLove Place, a central-city nonprofit that offers job training, parenting programs, child care and faith-based guidance.
Hoeksema is "never somebody who's ever worn that kind of commitment on his sleeve," Sheehy said. "(He's) outgoing and proud of Milwaukee but quiet in his accomplishments."
"He's a class, class person," said John C. Kasdorf, former owner of a Brookfield firm that bought gas for industrial customers. "He's definitely a Christian in a noun sense. That is, he personifies what the Bible says we all ought to look like."
Brenda Skelton, former senior vice president of marketing at Midwest, said Hoeksema has been quietly generous in the community and was a tough, highly analytical executive with great determination.
"He's extraordinarily tenacious, and I say that in the best sense of the word," Skelton said.
It probably was very difficult, she said, for Hoeksema to see Midwest shed some of the amenities that made it distinctive. The airline, for example, installed narrower seats on many flights, scrapped complimentary wine and began charging for meals.
But Hoeksema is "a very pragmatic businessman" willing to make decisions he doesn't necessarily like, Skelton said.
Where Hoeksema goes from here is uncertain. The cushion of a CEO's pay package, of course, gives him options and a level of comfort not available to most.
But there also may be an emotional component in leaving the company he has built, under circumstances that are strained at best
"I would suspect so," Amhaus said. "It's his entire life. I think it's been a long, long few years and very hard on him."
 

samballs

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This should be good!! First, to say he was a good business man is a joke. Then the bitch said he was a good christian man, that says it all.
 

deadstick

Pucker Factor: HIGH
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Was this a paid advertisement? The "journalist" quoted a Midwest lawyer and staffer from the Cookie Palace. Is he trying to save his image before the Milwaukee masses lay siege to his lair with torches and pitchforks?

I'd like to read Tom Daykin's version.
 

Steveair

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Hoeksema isn't universally loved. He drew harsh criticism from some people posting remarks on an online forum last week after Republic announced it would buy Midwest from the Texas investment firm that has owned the airline for about a year and a half.


IS THE PRESS READING FLIGHT INFO??
 

GOULET!

Oh look..a bighorn!
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No...there was an online forum on the newspaper's website of which 95% of the postings spoke negative about him as the CEO.
 

Propsync

Everybody to the limit!
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Unless the article is by Tom Daykin, everyone else does interviews of TH from their knees.
 

Jetjockey

Stay thirsty my friends
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Good businessman? I hate to see a bad one! Once the airline was off the teet of Kimberly-Clark, it did nothing but shrink and die. Great job Tim, you were a terrible father.
 

Moustache

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I hope Karma prevails in this case.
 
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