Werner Lieberherr, the top Winston-Salem operational executive for Rockwell Collins Inc., has abruptly left his position and been replaced by a Rockwell veteran, the company announced Tuesday.

Lieberherr also served as the top local executive for B/E Aerospace Inc. before it was bought for $8.6 billion by Rockwell in April 2017.

Lieberherr was replaced immediately by Dave Nieuwsma, who assumes the role of chief operating officer of Rockwell’s Interior Systems unit in Winston-Salem. Rockwell has about 1,500 employees at its Winston-Salem operational hub.

Nieuwsma, who has been with Rockwell since 1991, previously served as senior vice president of the Information Management Services business.

Rockwell only said that Lieberherr, 59, was “leaving the company after helping to lead the successful integration of the B/E Aerospace business.” Rockwell officials could not be immediately reached for further comment on Lieberherr’s departure.

Rockwell said in a regulatory filing that company common-stock securities held by Lieberherr were “forfeited in connection with (his) termination of employment” on Monday.

Rockwell is awaiting Chinese regulatory approval for its $30 billion sale to global aerospace giant United Technologies Corp. Rockwell was expected to release its third-quarter earnings report Friday, but has not yet.

Kelly Ortberg, Rockwell’s chairman, chief executive and president, said Nieuwsma “brings a wealth of experience and proven performance” to his new role.

Although Ortberg thanked Lieberherr for his transitional role with the B/E purchase and integration, he said “the timing is right to make these changes to ensure that we have the resources in place for our continued success today and in the future.”

"I have not had any communication from the company that would indicate any potential issues," Mayor Allen Joines said when asked about Lieberherr's departure.

"I am obviously interested in any possible issues that the change would cause. I look forward to working with the new head of Winston Salem operations."

Lieberherr had served as B/E and Rockwell’s top local executive for seven years. He made $875,000 in salary with Rockwell, down from $1.01 million with B/E.

As part of the B/E sale, Lieberherr received a golden parachute compensation package worth $29.14 million overall — $12.64 million in cash, $16.38 million in B/E stock awards and $140,465 in perks.

Lieberherr’s B/E executive contract, which Rockwell took over, included three-year non-compete clauses.

Lieberherr was eligible for incentive pay with Rockwell of at least 90 percent of his salary, compared with $1.65 million in fiscal 2015.

Lieberherr also was made eligible for a $2 million cash-retention award, vesting on the first anniversary of the completed deal in April 2018. He was eligible for an annual equity award, similar to other Rockwell senior executives, of $1.3 million.

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rcraver@wsjournal.com 336-727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

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