Girdler's New Job

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Tom Girdler is going into the aircraft business—temporarily at least. Last week he was named chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Vultee Aircraft, Inc. which, by recently swallowing Consolidated (TIME, Dec. 8), promises to become the General Motors of U.S. aircraft.

How long Girdler stays there depends upon how fast he can do the job at hand. "I was born and bred a steel man and want to die a steel man" says he at 64. He remains chairman of Republic Steel, whose directors last week voted to "sacrifice part of [his] time" to Vultee. He will devote his main efforts to the huge production problems involved in reorganizing and rationalizing the Vultee plant (a pioneer in developing aircraft assembly-line production) and that of Consolidated (which must share in the doubling of the bomber program announced by Bill Knudsen last fortnight).

Girdler is not new to aircraft production in general, or to Vultee in particular. Long before he made his peace with Franklin Roosevelt and the C.I.O. he had made up his mind that light metals were the metals of the future, especially in steel's ancient bailiwick, transportation. Republic has for years pioneered in light steels.

Even before that, in the merger era, he had shown his financial toughness by sticking with (and successfully running) Republic while Dreamer Cyrus Eaton, who put it together, was washed out by the depression. Later he also joined the syndicate that salvaged the wrecks of another dreamer, Errett Lobban Cord, whose ill-assorted mass of properties included Vultee. Leader of that syndicate was Wall Street's Victor Emanuel, whose dreams have shown a much solider content than Eaton's or Cord's. Emanuel and Girdler together swung the Vultee-Consolidated deal.

Where Emanuel's control of this $1,000,000,000 backlog stops and Girdler's begins is not a matter for statistical analysis. Emanuel's Aviation Corp. owns 71% of Vultee common, which owns 34% of Consolidated. But Girdler (who holds only 2,000 of the 5,780,000 outstanding shares of Aviation Corp.) is executive head of both. Vultee Chairman Harry Woodhead becomes president of Consolidated and executive vice president of Vultee. Vultee President Richard Millar retains his present job, also becomes executive vice president of Consolidated. Both are Girdler appointees.