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Aviation Technologies 


BLYTHEVILLE, AR – Aviation Repair Technologies was honored with Delta Air Lines’ “Small Business of the Year” award on March 22 at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, GA. The Small Business of the Year award is part of Delta’s annual Star Awards program, which recognizes excellence among Delta’s small-business, minority and women-owned suppliers. In selecting ART for this recognition, Delta considered ART’s performance in several categories, including quality, value creation, innovation, customer service, cost savings and community involvement.

“Winning this award from Delta means a lot because it helps recognize ART’s employees and the hard work that they do every day to support our customers,” said Ben Quevedo, president of ART. “Delta’s leadership in recognizing the important role played by their small and diverse suppliers is key to the continued success of those suppliers, their employees, and the communities that they serve.” 

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The place to do business

AADA Article Summit2017The 9th Annual, Arkansas Aerospace & Defense Alliance Summit was the place to be. Companies like Lockheed Martin, Dassault Falcon Jet, Gulfstream, CMT Inc, Mundo Tech, and Jévac Machine Inc, just to name a few, participated in this years event.

The Summit, as in years past, provides a platform for experts in the Aerospace & Defense Alliance. As Chad Causey states, “We want to provide them with the opportunity to hear some relevant and timely information on topics of importance to the industry”.

Some of the guest speakers included Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, who spoke about Arkansas’ commitment to Aerospace, and Melvin Torres from the Arkansas World Trade Center, who delivered an informative outlook on the growing export opportunities in Latin America. Brian Provencher, Director of Processes and Methods for Dassault Falcon Jet, detailed some of the innovative technologies used at their own facilities. And, Mike Preston, Director of Arkansas Economic and Development Commission, talked about how the attendees of this years Summit are passionate about growing Aerospace and Defense in Arkansas.

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Airtech Supply: A Legacy of Hard Work and the Fruits of their Labor

AADA Article AirTechIn September of 1996, Airtech Supply started out producing CAD/CAM programs from blueprint and within a few months started manufacturing “with an old used machine that nobody liked to run,” stated Del Keith, President and Owner of Air Tech Supply. His mentor, Ron Reagan, had purchased the Thermwood Cartesian 5 at an auction for his son’s shop, but it ended up not making parts that well. His mentor then told Keith that if he could run that machine, then he would give him some work.

Del Keith rose to the occasion and soon after was able to purchase a few more machines. Keith explains that it is simply working hard and doing something well, not adequately, but well, that gives the foundation for a successful business. After purchasing several more machines, they continued to build and “before we knew it, we had a pretty good-sized business.”

Mark Sorrell, Director of Quality Operations at Airtech, joined the Airtech family in 2005. At that time, the company, though well-established, was about to hit a growth spurt. He explains, “I was fortunate to be brought into a very small company of about twenty people. I was able to be involved in some of the early ground work and helped get us certified with Quality Systems in AS9100 and NADCAP heat treating.” It was through obtaining these certifications that allowed the company to branch out to direct customers and to do work with the primes as well. Sorrel states in response to those early challenges they faced in becoming certified, “The most rewarding part is to step back, after overcoming many challenges and obstacles to look at where you came from and where you are today.”

Keith was the first employee of Airtech. When Sorrell started out in 2005, as mentioned above there were twenty employees. Today, the company has grown exponentially to employ forty-five people and a host to much more advanced machinery. It is with these two viable components that have made Airtech the premier CNC sheet metal machining operation in the Midwest U.S.

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Making Arkansas a Destination

AADA Article FlyAwayTaxThe Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance has been hard at work to attract more aerospace business to Arkansas. During the current and previous legislative sessions, Arkansas has expanded the tax exemption on aircraft maintenance and created a fly-away tax exemption for aircraft sales. Both initiatives have and will spur additional business growth for the industry.

Arkansas has joined several other states in creating a fly- away exemption. Before this legislation passed, the law required Arkansas tax officials to collect sales tax on aircraft transactions occurring in the state. Because of the tax policy, aircraft owners would take aircraft to nearby states where no tax was required to be collected. As a result, work commonly performed when a plane is sold would occur in a state like Tennessee or Kentucky. Arkansas Aerospace companies were losing out.

During the 2015 General Assembly, the Arkansas Legislature passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Joe Jett (R-Success) and Sen. Jake Files (R- Fort Smith) to expand the class of aircraft qualifying for the sales and use tax exemption on aircraft maintenance. In addition, the legislation created Arkansas’s first fly- away exemption for aircraft sales where the seller and buyer are both out- of-state. During the current legislative session, the AADA worked with Rep. Joe Jett again to pass legislation that expanded the fly- away exemption to cover sales transactions on most business aircraft, regardless of where the seller resides. With this additional tool, Arkansas companies can sell business aircraft, above 9,500 lbs. gross takeoff weight, right here in Arkansas. In turn, the buyer of that aircraft will be more likely to have necessary maintenance work completed at one of the high-quality facilities located in Arkansas.

Steven Hadley, the National Business Aviation Association’s regional representative for the Southwest, is someone who understands the opportunities Arkansas was missing. “This bill helps companies in Arkansas that maintain and service aircraft,” said Hadley. “Passing this bill shows how Arkansas recognizes the importance of Aviation to its citizens in terms of jobs and economic activity.”

AADA identified a need for this policy change because its membership recognized the business that Arkansas was losing to other states. Carl Finch with Air Resource Group, is one of those Alliance members who helped develop this policy here in Arkansas. “This legislation will allow Arkansas’s growing corporate aviation sector to compete more effectively in national and world markets, to add jobs and capital investments by attracting more aircraft sales and maintenance customers to Arkansas, and doing so without a reduction of tax revenue to the state,” said Finch.

Keith Rose, CEO of Rose Aircraft is another member of the Alliance that understands the impact this legislation will have on promoting Arkansas as an Aerospace State. “This policy change will greatly enhance our ability to attract corporate aviation operators to Arkansas for maintenance and refurbishing services, and will add revenues and jobs to our local economy,” said Rose.

The aerospace and defense sectors are highly competitive and states throughout the country have taken measures to alter tax policy to support growth in the industry. A cornerstone of AADA’s mission is to create growth opportunities for existing aerospace and defense companies in Arkansas. This legislation further supports that mission by creating a more business-friendly environment, creating additional work for Arkansas companies.

The Summit and the Sum of its Profits

AADA Article 2017SummitPrior to the Seventh, Annual Summit, Chad Causey, Executive Director of AADA, stated in an Arkansas Online interview, “Arkansas is open for business, but it has strong businesses here. That is important to highlight as we're recruiting. We've already got a broad base to grow from.” Today, in an interview before the Ninth Annual Summit, it could not be truer.

The Arkansas Aerospace and Defense industry has continued to grow leaps and bounds because of the Alliance, and today roughly 10,000 Arkansans are employed because of the industry. Causey states that what he loves about AADA is that, “I get to work with a lot of amazing people. Some of whom have built amazing companies that started with a small Arkansas foot- print but have grown exponentially, expanding to new heights and enabling thousands of Arkansans to have rewarding careers.”

One of these companies he highlights is Galley Support Innovations, which Gina Radke is Chief Executive Officer, and now President of AADA. They started out as very small business in 2005 with around a $10,000 in sales their first year, and what is now, today, a multi-million-dollar company.

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