Dallas airmotive closing New Jersey facility

 - December 14, 2007, 7:39 AM

Dallas Airmotive’s late-September announcement that it would be closing its Millville, N.J. facility caused something of a stir. Much of the concern focuses on the loss of more than 240 jobs, but some concern stems from the company’s long history.

Millville has been home to engine overhaul facilities since 1948, when it was called Airwork. The name stuck over the years; many still refer to it as Airwork, though it has operated under a number of names, including Purex, UNC, General Electric and, since 1998, Dallas Airmotive.

Millville’s mayor, Jim Quinn, attempted to engineer a mutually agreeable situation with BBA Group, the parent company of Dallas Airmotive (and Signature Flight Support). He reportedly offered the company $2 million worth of lease and other incentives to keep the facility open. Union officials, for their part, also offered significant financial concessions, including wage cuts. But Dallas Airmotive decided to concentrate its U.S. turbine engine repair and overhaul operations at company-owned facilities in Dallas and Neosho, Mo.

Jim Donlan, president and CEO of Dallas Airmotive, said the company expects the move to create new jobs at both the Texas and Missouri facilities and will encourage current Millville employees to consider opportunities that may become available at those locations. “The decision to relocate the Millville operation, while difficult, will result in significant benefits going forward for our customers and shareholders,” he said.

According to Chris Pratt, director of marketing for Dallas Airmotive, it wasn’t a simple decision. “Millville was a leased facility, which is common for airport-based facilities. Neither of our other facilities is located on airports and we don’t have the lease issues there. We looked at our U.S. operation and it made sense to consolidate everything at Dallas and Neosho,” Pratt told AIN. “It improves logistics and reduces overhead expenses and unnecessary production capacity. We made the decision based on projected future business.”

Pratt said the company has made significant investments in technology, systems and special process equipment resulting in greater efficiency and increased productivity at both plants. “We acquired Neosho last year from Premier Turbines, now a division of Dallas Airmotive. Premier Turbines is authorized to do core zone inspections on the Honeywell TFE731, Rolls-Royce 250 and some older military engines,” Pratt said. “In Dallas, we do the Spey and Tay; PT6A and PT6T; JT15D; CF34; CFE738; and ALF502. The Millville facility was working on Speys, Tays and PT6s, so it just fits into our other facilities.”

Dallas Airmotive maintains a network of turbine centers in the U.S. and in England. Pratt said the U.S. reorganization will not affect the company’s European operation.