Gore Design Completions, armed with a new contract in hand for a Boeing 767-300ER head-of-state interior and an abiding faith in God, has broken ground for a $12.5 million completion and refurbishment center.
The new 120,000-sq-ft facility will house offices, shops and a hangar capable of simultaneously holding–“with the doors closed”–a 747-400 and a 767-300. “This new building will give us the opportunity to consolidate our operations into one facility and control our own destiny,” said president and CEO Jerry Gore.
The company has been working in a leased hangar at San Antonio International Airport for the past three years and expects to move into its new accommodations at nearby KellyUSA Airport (formerly Kelly Air Force Base) by the end of September.
The move will come just weeks before the scheduled arrival of the 767-300ER. But Gore Design has already begun work on the head-of-state widebody, using a 40-foot-long fuselage mockup to confirm that the cabinetry, seats and other interior components will fit into the real thing. The interior will be configured with oversized VVIP and VIP areas in the forward and center sections and a staff area aft. “We’ll be ready to begin installation when the airplane rolls in,” said Gore. “We have six months to do the job, but I expect we’ll finish sooner.”
It helps that Gore Design has already completed an earlier head-of-state interior for a 767-200ER, a job that was done in less than six months.
In an industry where outsourcing for interior components has become commonplace, Gore insists on retaining as much of the interior completion and refurbishment process as possible. “Rather than subcontract all the work, we decided to vertically integrate.” In an effort to do that, said Gore, “We’ve assembled what we truly believe is the best team of people in the world at what we do.
“As a result, we’ve delivered every project we’ve done on time and on budget,” he said. Those projects include refurbishment of a BAC 1-11 for the Sacramento Kings and a DC-9 for the Detroit Pistons.
Gore Design is one of five completion centers approved by Boeing for interior work on the BBJ and BBJ2. And Gore added, “We’ve just completed a successful audit by the company, so we’re also a Boeing-approved supplier.” He added that FAR Part 145 maintenance approval is expected by year-end, “which will make us a more attractive place for clients whose airplanes need maintenance as well as interior work.”
As the company ramps up to accept the next 767-300ER, its workforce is expected to grow steadily from 60 to more than 100 by the time the new facility opens this fall. Gore said he is also bidding on “several” other projects and has hired a sales representative for Europe and the Middle East. “If we get another widebody, we may have to add another 100 employees.”
Gore admits that the timing of the decision to expand from interior design and include cabin completions in 2000 was not the best, what with an economic recession just around the corner, compounded by 9/11. “But we dodged a bullet,” he recalled, when the company signed a contract for a 767 completion “just a few days before 9/11.”
Gore Design Completion has persevered. “Surrender” is apparently not part of Gore’s vocabulary, nor that of his wife, executive v-p and partner in the business, Kathy Gore.
The quiet, soft-spoken Jerry Gore who greets clients today seems far removed from the tough Texas kid who fought in Golden Gloves tournaments, spent four years as a professional bull rider and nearly lost his right arm in a milling machine accident.
He and Kathy married in 1986 and started their business in 1989, after the recession cost them their jobs at the old Dee Howard maintenance and interiors facility in San Antonio. The timing, again, was not the best. A solid base of Mexican customers disappeared with the devaluation of the Peso. That, combined with the economic backlash of the Persian Gulf War, left them near bankruptcy. “There were many times when we were thinking, ‘Is this what we’re supposed to be doing’,” recalled Kathy Gore. “It didn’t look that way. But it felt like that was God’s plan for our life, so we just persevered.”
Asked how Gore Design has survived and become what is now a major player among the top half-dozen widebody interior completions and refurbishment companies, Jerry Gore said it is simply a combination of faith, love and determination.