First In Flight

2013

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FIRST IN FLIGHT Sponsored Section BLUE FORCE TECHNOLOGIES INC. to turn work away because we don't have the workforce or hangar space," says Kip Blakely, TIMCO's vice president for industry and government relations. In recent years, the privately held company that employs about 1,800 workers in the Triad has moved beyond its core business and into designing and manufacturing interiors, seats and Federal Aviation Administration-approved spare parts. "Our business was founded 22 years ago, and we've just grown from there." A confluence of global events is piling work at TIMCO's door. Consolidation in the commercial-airline industry means interiors need to be reworked to match combined fleets. Scores of passenger jets are expected in service hangars if Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Inc. acquires Forth Worth, Texas-based AMR Corp.'s American Airlines. Aveos Fleet Performance in Canada closed in 2012, meaning Saint-Laurent, Canada-based Air Canada needed a new maintenance A fuselage mold is fabricated in Morrisville-based Blue Force Technologies' five-axis CNC milling machine. Design is just one facet of the aerospace and aviation industry in the state. 6 B U S I N E S S N O R T H C A R O L provider. TIMCO got some of that work but had to withdraw because of a lack of hangar space and workforce at the time. New aircraft orders are also adding to the workload. "There has been an enormous backlog of orders from Boeing and Airbus, and those interiors have to be produced and delivered," Blakely says. With about 80% of TIMCO's business coming from commercial airlines — "Our sweet spot is currently the Boeing 737, 757 and 767," Blakely says — expansion is its strategy. Company leaders are exploring opportunities for growth at PTI and elsewhere, including at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport where it purchased an aircraft-service company in October. In late 2010, TIMCO's AeroSystems Interiors Engineering and Manufacturing division launched plans for a new $2.8 million, 275-worker plant in Wallburg. TIMCO is working closely with Davidson County Community College to train workers for tasks that may be familiar to many of them. "We're basically making airplane furniture. Some of these workers have spent their careers making furniture; they're used to bending metal, working with fabrics and fitting things." Back at its Greensboro service site, TIMCO's extensive hiring effort is guided by a similar relationship with Guilford Technical Community College. "One of our earliest partners was GTCC. They've really been helpful to our workforce." The college is committed to creating a pipeline of qualified employees for aviation companies. The school's 41,000-square-foot, $10 million building under construction near the airport is evidence of that devotion. It is expected to accommodate the crush of students enrolling in pilot training and aviation management. GTCC anticipates enrollment for degree and continuing-education programs to nearly double to 450 in three years as companies such as TIMCO and Greensboro-based Honda Aircraft Co. expand hiring. In 2007, Japan-based Honda Motor Co. chose Greensboro as the location for the worldwide headquarters of Honda Aircraft, creating 215,000 square feet of office and hangar space at PTI. The subsidiary, which makes fuel-efficient jets, is growing its service and repair operations there, investing $80 million in a 90,000-square-foot expansion and creating 419 jobs. In Monroe, which the Carolina Central Railway transformed into a thriving crossroads between Charlotte and Wilmington in 1874, fortunes have also been linked with air transportation. In 2003, Charlotte-based Goodrich Corp. opened a business center there to serve its aerospace and defense-contractor customers. While Goodrich became a part of United Technologies' UTC Aerospace Systems in Charlotte last year, its expansion in Monroe contributed to the $600 million in industrial investment by aerospace and aviation companies there since 2002. The roster includes The Cyril Bath Co., a privately held, locally based provider of metal forms and joining solutions for aircraft fuselage skins and frame components, and ATI Allvac, a unit of Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies Inc., whose 1,150-person workforce produces high-performance alloys and steel for aerospace customers. While building its stable of aerospace and aviation companies, Monroe officials delivered on their pledge to treat corporate residents as partners. "Working with the city of Monroe and Union County has been very good for us," says Matt Nelson, president and CEO of Turbomeca Manufacturing Inc., which builds helicopter components and employs 130 people at its 100,000-square-foot plant in Monroe. I N A

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