With an eye on the future, Gore Design Completions (GDC) officially opened its big, new interior shop in San Antonio on February 8 amid ceremonies hosting some 400 guests and dignitaries.
The event marked the high point for husband/wife founders and owners Jerry and Kathy Gore. The pair got their start in the interior completion and refurbishment business at the old Dee Howard facility in the mid-1980s. They persevered through layoffs in the recession of the late 1980s, the disappearance of Mexican clients when the peso was devalued against the dollar, and the Persian Gulf War economic backlash that left the company near bankruptcy. But the design firm survived and grew steadily in the 1990s and the first years of the 21st century and expanded to include widebody interior completion and refurbishment.
Speaking at the opening-day ceremony, president and CEO Jerry Gore emphasized the company’s reputation for delivering what the customer wants on time and on budget. In fact, in 2002 Gore delivered a head-of-state Boeing 767-200ER in less than six months. And at the grand opening, the two owners stood in front of a 767-300ER that rolled into the new $12.5 million facility in October last year and is on track for delivery this month.
GDC had been working in a leased hangar at San Antonio International Airport for the past three years. The new, 120,000-sq-ft hangar will house simultaneously a 747-400 and a 767-300, “with the doors closed,” or three 767-300s and a BBJ.
“The hangar allows us to consolidate our operations into one facility and control our own destiny,” said Jerry Gore. That destiny includes the addition of an aircraft maintenance rating to its repair station certificate.
The Gores expect a continued economic recovery that will put a strain on manpower in the coming years. With that in mind they took the opportunity at the opening to announce an apprentice program with local John F. Kennedy High School. The program might eventually bear fruit in the form of skilled completions workers, said Jerry Gore. But, he added, “Our primary goal is to introduce students to a career in the aviation completions industry, while exposing them to the art of interior completions.”
The company currently employs nearly 150, including some 30 contract workers. Both numbers could grow substantially with additional contracts.
The new GDC is located at Kelly-USA, formerly Kelly Air Force Base, where a 300-foot-wide, 11,500-foot-long runway will accommodate the largest aircraft, including the new Airbus A380. Even though the new hangar will not accommodate an A380, with its 79.2-foot tail and massive 261.8-foot wingspan, Gore was quick to make it clear that the company would indeed bid on an executive/VIP version of the big airliner. And if it won? “The first thing we’d do is start building a new hangar for it,” he said with a chuckle.
In the meantime, most of the staff members are making themselves at home in the most recent expansion project. But as large as it is, the new facility will not accommodate everyone. The company’s short-term plan is to lease an additional property at KellyUSA to house the upholstery and cabinetry shops and administrative staff pending expansion of the new hangar.