November 18, 2004 12:57 PM PST

Segway CEO scoots from company

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The president and CEO of scooter pioneer Segway is leaving the company for personal reasons, a company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

Ron Bills has tendered his resignation, effective mid-December, after less than a year with the privately held company, Segway spokeswoman Carla Vallone said.

While the Segway Human Transporter has quickly become a part of popular culture, inspiring crazy stunts, legal turmoil and legendary marketing hype, the Bedford, N.H.-based company has had a mixed record as a business.

Executives acknowledged late last year that sales of the pricey vehicles were way below forecasts, and a safety-related product recall hasn't helped matters.

The company's modest business success has been accompanied by a number of management changes, with Bills becoming the third person to occupy the president-CEO slot since Segway began operations in 2001. Bills is a veteran of the recreational-vehicle business, having spent 12 years before joining Segway at all-terrain vehicle makers Bombardier Recreational Products, Yamaha Motor and Polaris Industries.

Bills helped push Segway to operate more like a traditional recreational-vehicle maker, establishing a national dealer network and pushing opportunities for scooter rentals. He also helped guide plans for the Centaur, a four-wheel version of the Segway--now in the prototype stage--that would offer more flexibility for off-road and recreational travel.

A committee of four Segway executives will run the company in Bills' absence, Vallone said, while the board of directors searches for a replacement.

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Note dateline on this article.

-Eric at Segway
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