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Segway CEO scoots from company

Ron Bills will take off next month, leaving Segway to find the fourth CEO in its short history.

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.