Thriving: Suhas Kakde, president and chief executive of U.S. Aeromotive Inc., said his company's assessment of the Air Force's acquisition trends is paying off.
Aerospace Company uses savvy to endure
By Timothy R. Gaffney
While the aerospace industry has been struggling, a small Dayton aerospace company, U.S. Aeromotive Inc., has been thriving.
Once mainly an auto parts supplier, the small precision manufacturing company now does about two-thirds of its business in the aerospace market - much of it in the shrinking defense field.
The company supplies aircraft parts and ground-support equipment for the Air Force's B-lB bomber, F-15 and F-22 fighters, C-17 airlifter and other programs.
While the military has been downsizing and cutting back procurement programs for several years, U.S. Aeromotive has continued to win new contracts.
That isn't an accident, said Suhas Kakde, president and chief executive.
He said the company assessed the Air Force's acquisition trends six or seven years ago and decided to focus on the programs most likely to endure.
Kakde said the programs with the best chances appeared to be those that would support the Air Force's policy of "global reach, global power" - a smaller, leaner Air Force with the capability to project force anywhere in the world from bases in the United States.
Those programs have indeed survived, and U.S. Aeromotive's strategic planning "definitely is paying out," Kakde said.
In fact, the company's work for the C-17 program won it the U.S. Small Business Administration's Prime Contractor of the Year Award for the Midwest region, a six-state area that includes about 90000 small manufacturers in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The award recognizes contractors of all federal agencies for maintaining high industry standards. The company received its award last week.
Kakde said the C-17 program office at Wright Patterson Air Force Base nominated his company for its work in designing and producing ground-support equipment. He said the company has done about $14 million in business with the C-17 program over the past two years and expects to do $12 million this year.
"We did not even know about this. It was quite a surprise," he said.
While the company declines to release total sales or employment figures, Kakde said it now employs "more than 100" people at its I Edmund St. plant.
He said is also setting up its first foreign-based operation in India.
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