Jon Lammers Takes Flight as Spirit AeroSystems GC
Theres a new GC piloting the legal department of Spirit AeroSystems Inc. The Wichita-based aerostructures manufacturer has named Jon Lammers general counsel, senior vice-president, and secretary. He replaces Michelle Russell, who was appointed GC of YRC Worldwide Inc. in January.
Lammers may be new to the job at Spirit, but he has long been fascinated by the aircraft industry. Jargony terms like nacelle roll right off his tongue. Thats the casing of equipment around the engines, explains Lammers. Spirits other core products include fuselages, pylons, and wing components. Were building pieces for the commercial aircraft that we all fly, says the GC.
Lammers is overseeing a team of seven lawyers at Spirit. He anticipates that hell be devoting a significant amount of time to oversight of commercial contracts. Given the nature of our business, the contracting is extremely important, says Lammers, both on the supply side and on the customer side. He also manages litigation, labor and employment, mergers and acquisitions, IP, compliance, and corporate governance for the company.
Most recently, Lammers served as Cargill Incorporateds deputy general counsel for North America. He spent four of his 15 years with the company in Singapore, where he was Cargills Asia Pacific general counsel. I had the opportunity to work with a diverse range of businesses in lots of different places, he says.
Compared to Cargill, whose product lines range from raw steel to pharmaceutical ingredients, Spirits manufacturing focus is much more narrow. But that doesnt mean Lammerss new position will be any simpler. There may not be as many products, says Lammers, but the complexity is there in terms of what we do. The companys workforce is highly skilled, he says, and its products and manufacturing environment are both very complex.
Like most other businesses, Spirit is operating under intense pressure to do things more efficiently. The nature of the aerospace industry is cyclical, Lammers notes, and that has a big impact on suppliers. To fulfill commercial aircraft orders with efficiency, he says the company has to pay attention to business patterns such as passenger travel cycles.
How can Spirits in-house lawyers help the business side tackle those and other challenges? Strong legal skills are essential, says Lammers, but without business acumen those skills arent sufficient. I think its critical that lawyers understand the business and business strategies, he says, adding that legal teams like his should understand how the businesses that they work with make money in order to best serve their in-house clients.
For Lammers, business was his first love. He pursued a degree in business administration at the University of Southern California. His interest in law came later, developing out of his legal business courses at USC. Lammers participated in a two-year training program at Morgan Stanley in New York before heading to law school at the University of Virginia.
Lammers started his legal career in commercial real estate at Paul Hastings in Los Angeles and later moved to Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly in Minneapolis.
He went in-house at Cargill in order to have an opportunity to be closer to the clients business. I thought, too, that I might one day want to move to the business side. Its a notion he still hasnt entirely ruled out as his latest in-house enterprise takes flight.