Cirrus Names Cofounder Dale Klapmeier CEO

Klapmeier, who founded the Duluth-based company in a Wisconsin dairy barn with his brother 25 years ago, replaces Brent Wouters, who is no longer with Cirrus.

Cirrus Design Corporation-based in Duluth and one of the city's largest employers-announced Monday that it has named co-founder Dale Klapmeier CEO.

Former President and CEO Brent Wouters is no longer with the company, Cirrus said in a press statement; the statement didn't elaborate on why he left or what's next for him. As of Monday afternoon, Wouters was still listed as president and CEO on the company's Web site.

In June, Cirrus was acquired by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company, Ltd. (CAIGA)-which is controlled by the Chinese government. After the deal was first announced in February, the news sparked some concerns about a possible loss of Minnesota jobs, but CAIGA in July pledged to keep Cirrus' operations in Duluth.

“At Cirrus, we are passionate about airplanes and flying, and I am passionate about this company,” Klapmeier said in a statement. “Along with our new owners, our commitment is stronger than ever to the same goals and ideals that we had when we started the company more than 25 years ago. And that goal is to make the dream of flight a reality for more people, both in the U.S. and around the world. Today we are at the beginning of the next chapter of the reinvention of personal transportation.”

Dale Klapmeier-who was chairman of Cirrus' board prior to his just-announced appointment-founded Cirrus in a Wisconsin dairy barn in 1984 with his brother Alan Klapmeier. Alan Klapmeier served as CEO of Cirrus until 2008 and last year became CEO and chairman of Brunswick, Maine-based Kestrel Aircraft Company.

Cirrus manufactures three models of personal aircraft and is now developing its single-engine Vision Jet. According to the company's Web site, it employs about 550 people in two facilities-one in Duluth and the other in Grand Forks, North Dakota.