Cirrus Names New CEO

Former Tesla Motors senior executive succeeds company cofounder Dale Klapmeier to lead "next stage of growth."

Zean Nealsen
Zean Nealsen took over as CEO at Cirrus on June 3.Courtesy Cirrus Aircraft

Cirrus Aircraft named Zean Nielsen, a former senior executive with Tesla Motors, James Hardie and Bang & Olufsen, as its new CEO. Nielsen succeeds Cirrus cofounder Dale Klapmeier, who has stepped back to take a more strategic role with manufacturer, which is the number one producer of high-performance piston airplanes for the general aviation market.

“Cirrus Aircraft has a remarkably bright future ahead,” Klapmeier said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have someone of Zean’s caliber and experience to lead us into the next era of growth. I am looking forward to moving into a Senior Advisory role and continuing to work with our exceptional team on reinventing the future of personal transportation.”

Nielsen most recently served as the Executive Vice President of North American Sales at James Hardie, a leading industrial building materials company. Before his role at James Hardie, Nielsen ran all aspects of Tesla Motors worldwide sales operations efforts as the Vice President of Global Sales Operations. He began his career at Bang & Olufsen, the luxury electronics maker, where over a 17-year career he ascended to more senior roles before he ultimately became the President of Bang & Olufsen North and South America.

“I am honored and humbled to join this team of experienced general aviation leaders and a world-class workforce as we continue to bring game-changing products and services to market,” Nielsen said. “Our mission is to deliver an aviation experience that is the pinnacle of innovation, quality and safety to our customers–and that is exactly what we will continue to do for many years to come.”

Nielsen assumed the CEO role at Cirrus Aircraft on June 3.