NBAA Convention News

Versatile Emteq appears to be bucking downturn

 - October 14, 2009, 6:40 AM

While many in the industry are slashing payrolls, chopping programs and scuttling acquisition plans, business aircraft electronics supplier Emteq (Booth No. 2289) appears to be bucking the trend by making new acquisitions, offering a broader range of products and services, and modestly increasing its number of employees.

Emteq originated in CEO Jerry Jendusa’s basement in 1996 as a manufacturer of lightweight aircraft coaxial cable and electrical connectors, and today it employs 470 people at facilities in Wisconsin, Florida, Canada and Switzerland. Its diversified product offerings include avionics systems and integration, interior lighting and cabin comfort and exterior lighting products for retrofit and forward fit applications in the corporate, VIP, helicopter, air transport and military markets for OEMs, mod centers and subcontractors.

Forty percent of its business is directed at the corporate aviation market, according to Rachel Bahr, Emteq’s director of corporate airframe business development. Of that number, roughly equal shares are comprised of new OEM production and aftermarket sales through completion and modification centers. This year the company expects to achieve a modest growth rate of 5 to 10 percent. While that’s down from its past annual rates of 30 to 50 percent, it is much better than the current industry average.  

Emteq moved into the corporate market in 2002 with its cabin LED lighting products. In 2007 it acquired Flight Components, a Swiss company that specializes in exterior LED lighting. and last year it was joined by Canada’s ACS-NAI, which specializes in OEM and aftermarket structural and avionics design, interior certification, engineering, fabrication and support.

At last year’s NBAA, Emteq and partner Custom Control Concepts of Seattle unveiled their digital, high-definition SkyPro cabin management and in-flight entertainment system. Mike Hagen, Emteq’s business unit director, said SkyPro brings head-of-state cabin capabilities to much smaller aircraft “at a corporate price.”

Skypro links passenger carry-on electronic devices to an aircraft’s existing satcom, provides passengers with a personalized HD network, and gives them control over interior lighting, window shades, cabin temperature, seat heaters and other customizable options. It also reduces weight by allowing direct inputs from the management system to connected components. For example, things such as light dimming are controlled directly, eliminating the need for dimming modules. Honda Aircraft recently selected SkyPro for its HondaJet.

Emteq also manufactures the Elements passenger-seat heater, which provides separate heating elements within the seat cushion and back, three temperature settings, a “lumbar heat only” feature and automatic shut-off. Hagen said Elements adds one pound of weight per seat and has a “very low power draw.” The system comes with LED-lighted switches and is being offered directly to OEMs and aircraft seating companies.

Another growth source for Emteq has been its development of customized power outlets. The 110/220-VAC outlets can be designed with video/data ports, passenger messaging and LED backlighting.

Innovative hardware is only half the story behind Emteq’s growth. Bahr said because the company has strong program management, maintains employees on site at many of its customers and is structured by market segment, it can plan more effectively for and respond faster to changing customer requirements. The company currently has employees on site at five OEMs and three completion centers.

During the current economic downturn, several customers asked for integrated engineering and certification solutions that they would ordinarily generate in-house, but cannot now because of resource constraints, and this has been a major source of growth for the company. “Some large companies are finding that they can no longer handle large projects without outside help,” said Bahr. For example, she said, one OEM customer recently contracted with Emteq to provide all the wiring diagrams, routing, wiring fabrication and cockpit and cabin lighting.

The challenge, Hagen said, is to provide customers with diversified solutions without overexpanding or “figuring out how to do it all with the same people.”