Rockford, Illinois, Rolls Out the White Gloves

NBAA Convention News » 2011
Jeff Kaney and Ed Bolen
The Rockford Area Aerospace Network was formed in 2010 to increase job growth in the Chicago and Milwaukee area. Its members include airplane and helicopter manufacturers as well as local businesses. NBAA president Ed Bolen, (right), recently met with RAAN chairman Jeff Kaney to discuss job opportunities in the region.
October 12, 2011, 9:50 PM

The Rockford Area Aerospace Network (RAAN), a committee of the Rockford (Ill.) area economic development council (RAEDC), is here at the NBAA show highlighting its “white-glove service” to the aerospace industry.

The more than 60-member RAAN (Booth No. N3129) includes tier-one and -two aerospace companies in the greater Rockford area as well as in Chicago’s suburbs, DeKalb, Ill., and Milwaukee. It was formed in 2010 to increase job growth in the regional aerospace cluster. Hosting the Midwest’s largest concentration of aerospace manufacturers, the region is positioned to help customers enjoy extremely short and reliable lead times from what the development council calls the “white-glove supply chain,” which it says “gives aviation business customers one-stop shopping.”

In order to grow market share and jobs, RAAN members share best practices, network about business opportunities, advance workforce development and address future legislation. The group offers a one-stop resource for information on manufacturing, assembly, maintenance, repair and overhaul services, warehousing and distribution opportunities in the Rockford region.

RAEDC promotes the Rockford region as promising cost-effective availability of technical talent, a diverse industrial market, a development-friendly airport–Chicago Rockford International–and a supply chain of more than 150 companies that support all aspects of the aerospace industry. Here, this week, RAAN is featuring two examples of success in gaining and expanding business, exemplified in Ardekin Precision and Energy Dynamics.

Ardekin Precision in Rockford provides its customers the cell phone number of its prototype assembly technician, who is available on a 24/7 basis. “We are an extension of our customers’ prototype development department,” said Ardekin president Bruce Larsen. Technicians work with customers’ engineers to develop products and set up the production processes, including tooling, to optimize ease of manufacturing.

Larsen said a trust relationship established over 20 years in the aerospace business lets Ardekin routinely begin prototype work before a purchase order is issued. The company often provides same-day or 24-hour turnarounds. A majority of projects lead to long-term production contracts. Ardekin can handle all aspects of a project including outside processes, production, assembly, inspection and logistics to achieve true one-stop contracting.

Energy Dynamics in Machesney Park, Ill., recently won its first major Department of Defense contract to repair, overhaul and upgrade U.S. Navy aircraft parts with very short lead times. Under the $50 million, five-year contract, the company provides precision machining, testing, plating and heat treating with precise recordkeeping and on-time delivery.

Company president Pat Bye said, the white-glove service helped Energy Dynamics win the DOD’s confidence and the contract. “I describe it as predictable, routine, with no surprises,” said Bye. “That’s more important to a supply-chain professional than jumping through hoops and doing something special once in a while. They want to know with absolute certainty that we will do what we say we will do. Planes have to stay up in the air, period.”–H.W.

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