One Stop Shop - ASCO Aerospace USA
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Show 1424: One Stop Shop
Rob McClendon: Well, few industries are more global in scope than aviation. So when a world leader in aircraft component design announced the opening of a 715,000-square-foot facility stretched across 79 acres in Stillwater, Okla., you can just imagine that town’s excitement. Since that announcement in 2012, work has been underway to retool both a facility and a workforce to meet the demands for a target industry for the state.
Rob: What looks like a cavernous hole today will soon become just the latest expansion in Oklahoma’s aviation legacy.
Don Carlisle: The production forecasts are higher than I’ve ever seen in my career and they continue to rise every year.
Rob: Don Carlisle is vice president of ASCO Aerospace USA and says rapid advances in technology is changing how the aviation industry operates.
Carlisle: As airplanes are so different than they used to be, the life cycle of the airplane is much shorter. They’re designing replacements for the current airplanes today that will be out of service in 10 years. They continue to get so efficient and so comfortable that the airlines need these airplanes to make their economics work. So it’s unlike in the olden days where years past where you’d fly an airplane for 30 years. Today, technology advances so quickly that all the airplanes get so inefficient that you can’t afford not to buy the new airplanes.
Rob: Which is why in the summer of 2012, Belgium-based ASCO Industries announced it was opening a manufacturing center for the Americas in Stillwater, Okla.
Carlisle: We looked at available workforce, cooperation between Meridian Technology training of our employees for specific jobs here and the university doing research collaboration with us – which they are – and it all started coming together from a technical standpoint.
Rob: Not to mention geographic. Located 70 miles west of Tulsa’s commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul hub, Stillwater is just 60 miles northeast of Oklahoma City’s Tinker Air Force Base – the home of the largest U.S. Department of Defense depot and the world’s largest MRO for military aircraft.
Carlisle: It’s centrally located, it fits really well and the infrastructure and the transportation will get where we need to be. It’s perfect here. I mean, it’s in the center of the United States, great highways – even if you need to ship something by barge you go to Tulsa and Port of Catoosa and go by water.
Rob: Which is critical for an industry that is increasingly global. Larry Parman is Oklahoma’s Secretary of Commerce.
Larry Parman: You have fewer and fewer companies, it seems, occupying a larger and larger space in the international market. So it’s very important to us to be competitive from a, from a state’s point of view so that we can continue to attract internationally based companies into Oklahoma and be a part of that growing economy. So we all know what a, how important aerospace is to the international economy and what a driver it is. It’s, it’s very amazing to think that Stillwater, Okla., can be so integrally connected to that.
Rob: ASCO is expected to employ up to 600 people in the new plant, a huge influx of jobs for a university town with a population of less than 50,000.
John Bartley: What ASCO has done is really created a lot of opportunity for Stillwater and not just the immediate through ASCO, but the potential of growth within the aerospace industry.
Rob: Stillwater Mayor John Bartley.
Bartley: We have a strong aerospace history already in Stillwater – Frontier Engineering, Frontier Electronics have been players in aerospace for 30 years. With ASCO and how large they are on an international standpoint, it really sets us up to be able to pursue other companies, similar companies within the line. Not necessarily from a competitor’s standpoint, but from complimentary companies that can really add to and create a lot of synergy.
Carlisle: Oklahoma’s a great place to live from an economic standpoint. So the thought was, being here where it’s affordable and especially if you have a young family, this is a great place to live and raise kids. Very affordable – you get, you get a lot of bang for your buck as opposed to some of the larger cities around. It’s just a great place. So we look at it as a draw to be able to get the technical and professional help that we wanted. And in the state, you know, I read the paper everyday about different states – I won’t name them – that appear to make it very difficult to do business. That’s not the case here. From day one we met with the Department of Commerce, the Department of Environmental Quality, the State of Oklahoma, the governor’s office – incredible. You know, the incentives – they help, but they weren’t the determining factor. The determining factor was the proactive part of the governor around here in working with us. They made us feel like they wanted us and they would help us every step along the way – and they have. And it’s been incredible. And then the city of Stillwater, as you’ll witness today, they’re all here, they’re involved, they’ve helped, they’ve been engaged. So it’s just been a really great partnership with the state and local community and the educational facilities around here. So it’s a, it’s a good fit.
Rob: Now, the state-of-the-art lean manufacturing facility will comprise machining, heat and surface treatments, as well as assembly for complex machine parts out of titanium, brass and aluminum. Now, full production for ASCO Aerospace USA is scheduled for the end of this year.