HII CEO says many company processes 'will not go back to the way they were'

By Marjorie Censer / May 29, 2020 at 3:03 PM

The chief executive of Huntington Ingalls Industries said this week the COVID-19 pandemic will likely permanently change the company.

During a virtual conference hosted by Bernstein, Mike Petters said HII has "reengineered" many of its processes to adapt to the coronavirus crisis. "Most will not go back to the way they were," he said.

He noted that HII has moved from having about 1,000 teleworking employees to about 11,000 and has quickly changed the way it operates.

"There were a lot of meetings that we used to have that we somehow manage to not have anymore and we still get the work done," he said. "There was a lot of travel that we did in the past."

Petters cited an example of a business president who was about to sign a five-year lease for an office building before the outbreak hit. That president has opted to move to a one-year lease and thinks that at the end of one year, he may not need the office at all, Petters said.

"That's just an example of what we're going to see going forward," he added.

Petters touted the fact that HII has "been able to do this without a dislocation in our workforce."

"We're coming out of this on the other side with essentially the same workforce," he said. "It validates the investment we made in that workforce."

Speaking at the same conference a day earlier, Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden said she too expects the pandemic to alter her business.

"We now envision not needing as much facility capacity, given the changes that we're making," she said. The company doesn't "expect to be traveling at the pace that we were anytime soon."

"These are natural changes that will result from COVID-19," Warden said.