Photo: Forstmann Little -- 1996
Theodore J. "Teddy" Forstmann's memorial mass was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on Tuesday. The pews were packed with business associates and friends of the 71 year old Forstmann who died November 20, 2011 of brain cancer. Among them, were many former colleagues from Gulfstream Aerospace.
In the aviation industry, Forstmann will best be remembered as the leader who transformed Gulfstream from good to great by upgrading its management team and generously reinvesting in R & D from 1990 to 1999 when Forstmann Little owned the firm.
Among those in attendance was Bryan T. Moss, who served as Gulfstream Aerospace's vice chairman and later its president until he retired in March 2008.
"Buying Gulfstream was a big gamble, bold and typically Teddy. But, I thought it was a solid move," says Moss. At the prodding of a business associate, Forstmann invited Moss to join Gulfstream as vice chairman in 1995 and later named him president. Moss, a long term "working stiff" at Bombardier - Canadair, leapt at the opportunity to join the management dream team that Forstmann was building at Gulfstream, including W. W. Bill Boisture, Chris Davis and engineering superstar Pres Henne. "I'll always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me."
"Teddy was tough but extremely fair. He never threw money at a program, but he took his foot off the air hose to spend money on research and development." It was Forstmann who put the full strength of Gulfstream behind development of the G-V. It was he who paid top dollar to acquire K-C Aviation for its aircraft completion capabilities so urgently needed for the G-V program.
Above all, Forstmann invested in top notch people. That was his key to transforming the companies Forstmann Little owned. In addition to his all-star management team at Gulfstream, Forstmann attracted some of the nation's top leaders to its board of directors, including Henry Kissinger, GEN Colin Powell, Robert Strauss, Donald Rumsfeld, Roger Penske and Michael Ovitz, among others.
Moss also said that Forstmann "at his core, was a very, very generous man. He donated anonymously to so many charities. He was a standout success by any measure. He deserves much more credit for all the positive things that he did than he'll ever get credit for."
Forstmann's colleagues at Gulfstream credit him for transforming the company during the decade Forstmann Little owned it. That part of Forstmann's life story is well known. Now, his friends are hoping he'll get credit for all the non-profit organizations he helped build.