AIC opens one-stop shop for special ops

 - March 15, 2007, 11:34 AM

Aerospace Integration Corp. (AIC) of Mary Esther, Fla., is scheduled to open a 100,000-sq-ft aircraft completion center next February, on the grounds of the Albertville (Ala.) Municipal Airport. The $12 million completion center is meant to quickly “missionize” both U.S. Army and civil green aircraft by gathering a diversity of contractors under a single roof to achieve what AIC has termed block modifications, or “block mods.”

The Albertville center will employ 300 workers in aircraft assembly, sheet metal fabrication and machining, avionics repair and testing, painting and flight testing. George Gonzalez, AIC president and CEO, described the complete system as “concept to combat.”

The main focus of AIC is special operations forces, for which it designs, fabricates and fully integrates new technology into airborne and ground-based mission platforms for the U.S. Department of Defense. The company is wholly owned by MTC Technologies. Since its founding in 1997, it has grown to permanent operations in nine U.S. states.

Brig. Gen. Thomas Konitzer (Ret.), president of TJKonsulting of Augusta, Ga., serves as a strategic advisor and will lead the new Albertville facility. Konitzer has conducted an intensive recruitment drive and has 250 résumés in hand, but at Heli-Expo he said AIC needs applicants in all relevant areas of engineering, design and mechanical service.

Since last February, AIC has leased two 8,000-sq-ft hangars at Albertville Municipal that specialize in systems integration. The company also manages a 20,000-sq-ft plant in Huntsville/Madison, Ala., for cable harness and kit fabrication. AIC coordinates these plants with its airborne systems division at the Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Fla.

 More than 90 percent of AIC employees are veterans of special operations forces, a ratio that drives company culture and its service philosophy.

The company has held job fairs near U.S. Army Ft. Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, which is home to the 101st Airborne Division (air assault), as well as in the Huntsville, Ala. area. It plans to recruit aggressively throughout this year.

Konitzer said that for Albertville’s “robust” mission, a candidate’s background specific to special operations forces is of less concern than relevant experience, although he has plans to infuse the new-hires with the AIC philosophy and culture during the quick escalation. He said he has prepared a “seedcorn” approach to share proven ideas and AIC’s collective memory by transferring to Albertville some of the original 55 engineers who were involved in the company’s founding, many of whom work in the Crestview, Fla. shop.