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Hopeful Foundation to Expanding Education

AADA Article BobEastPerhaps still unknown to many current residents, the aviation/aerospace industry is rapidly becoming Arkansas’ largest, and most valuable, export. With nearly 180 major companies serving the industry, Arkansas’ competitive airspace environment is backed by its numerous runway-accessible sites and its highly skilled labor force. 

But the rapidly expanding aerospace industry was not always as coordinated and connected as it is today, thus creating the need for the Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance (AADA). When so many businesses rely on airspace for their goods/services, it seemed an expert idea to form a coalition that could strive to connect members to each other, provide benefits and solutions where none previously existed, and coordinate educational efforts.

Bob East, founder of East Harding and current managing partner of Advanced Cabling Systems, said, “When looking into the industry at the Little Rock airport, through research we found a lot of companies and groups wanted to talk and educate people on the aerospace industry, but there was no coordination.” After taking the need for education to then Gov. Beebe, the charge for an alliance was commissioned. In part, it was a necessity; when Gov. Beebe was traveling and talked to prospective businesses, he could directly speak of the AADA: an alliance that supports the aerospace industry and deals with issues affecting their business.

“Getting companies (manufactures and users) to realize and become advocates for aerospace growth as users, and seeing the power we have together, and to educate young people that there’s a great career in engineering and manufacturing here in AR, keeps people from leaving the state,” said East, when discussing the work force in Arkansas.

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Tax Reform in Arkansas Could Benefit Aerospace and Defense Companies

AADA Article TaxReformArkansas aerospace and defense companies could see a more friendly business climate in the coming years. Thanks to the passage of Acts 78 and 79 during the last General Assembly,  a bipartisan Tax Reform Committee was formed to consider changes to the Arkansas tax code. Governor Asa Hutchinson set the parameters for the tax reform committee in January of this year, and the overall scope of the committee’s work is to review and make recommendations regarding Arkansas’ tax policies with the goal of reforming and simplifying the state tax code by the 2019 regular session.

In addition to considering further reductions to income tax rates, the committee will also examine exemptions currently in place and make recommendations on which to keep and which to remove.

In the Arkansas Aerospace Industry, hopes are high that this will be a continuation of tax reform measures that will allow Arkansas to be competitive regionally and nationally, and better positioned to attract new business to Arkansas. Carl Finch of AirResource Group notes that his company has seen firsthand the positive effects of being able to compete on a level playing field.  “Tax measures passed over the last several legislative sessions will likely allow us (AirResource Group) to double the size of our company over the next 12 to 18 months,” Said Finch.

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Sky’s the Limit for Service and Success

AADA Article TAC AirWhat began in 1986 as a local business , has rapidly expanded into an aerospace industry leader. Starting out of Texarkana, AR, and originally called Road Runner Aviation, the single-location fixed base operation (FBO) was rebranded as TAC Air in 1991. Its mission was to consider what other companies were providing, then turn around and do those things like none other.

TAC Air currently employs over 400 associates at 14 FBO locations throughout the nation, and with a unyielding pledge to provide first-rate customer service, and fair and competitive pricing. Minding their efforts to continuously improve their services, TAC Air is set to continue its steady growth through the aerospace industry. They conduct everything from ground handling and aircraft refueling, to hangar development for all divisions of aviation.

What are their keys to success? What is the driving force behind their exemplary service? Kip Simanek, general manager for TAC Air in Little Rock, says it’s more than keeping a focus on service, “it’s creating a culture of service.” He spoke on how TAC Air recognizes their role as caretakers of their customers, as well as their employees. When a company has well-trained and well-taken-care of employees that understand the clients their company services, the employees in turn can deliver the quality service TAC Air promises.

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CMT Inc. - Delivering Top Level Service

AADA Article CMTincCraft Manufacturing and Tooling, Inc. (CMT Inc.) was founded in 1988 and began as a CNC Machining subcontractor to the growing aerospace business base in beautiful Hot Springs, Arkansas. Since then, CMT has evolved into a fully integrated aerospace and defense component supplier.  CMT President Tom Butler worked with the company as a customer for 20 years before becoming the company President in 2013.

CMT is a small business with a surprisingly broad array of capabilities for a shop of its size.  While most businesses of this type and size might focus on just sheet metal or just machined components, CMT has managed to also include fiberglass, metal bonding, in house chemical processes, painting, and heat-treating, among others. These diverse internal capabilities allow them to be particularly competitive with similarly sized shops regionally and nationally.

These unique offerings have served CMT’s customers well. A recent example of this is a challenging program for a key customer in which CMT had to acquire special processing approval. Over the last 6 months CMT has delivered over 8,000 parts for this project without a single line rejection.

CMT is continuing to invest in its core capabilities to ensure that the company can continue to deliver at this level. Recent investments include new high-speed machining equipment coupled with key customer special process approvals, which has placed CMT in a position to support growth for the upcoming years. The company is also focused on diversifying their customer base while working hard to maintain the key customer relationships they currently have.

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A Story of Plain Old Perseverance: Rose Aircraft Services, Inc.

AADA Article RoseAircraftRose Aircraft Services, Inc. began with a dream, a family, and a one-man-shop. It was 1964 when the Rose family moved to Mena, Arkansas from Dallas. Jack Rose set up his one-man-shop in one corner of a hangar at the Mena Airport, then at the time a three-thousand-foot grass strip with only a few local aircraft.

They began an engine overhaul company and began to buy and sell used aircraft. Soon, upholstery was added to service inventory aircraft. In 1973, the fledgling company upgraded slightly to a property that was less than six thousand square feet. They began to offer paint services, and increased maintenance and light avionics. In 2007, they purchased the local FBO, Mena Air Center.

Today they operate on more than two hundred thousand square feet of hangar shop and office space, employ more than one hundred people, and offer the full range of interior design services. Keith Rose, son of Jack Rose now owns the company along with his sister Brenda. The company has always been family owned, currently on their fourth generation.

However, the word “family” branches out to cover more than names on their family tree. Many of the master craftsman in their Interior Completions and Refurbishing Division have been with the company for over twenty years.

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