Wichita, Kans.-based Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) earlier today held an official opening ceremony at its new 180,000-square-foot facility in Chihuahua, Mexico. The facility handles sheet metal assembly King Airs and Hawker jets, along with electrical assembly.
The manufacturer, which started operating in Chihuahua in 2007, has invested $20 million in the facility, says Chairman and CEO Bill Boisture. “This facility provides us with the capability to do sheet metal assembly for Beechcraft and Hawker products,” he says. “We made the investment in Chihuahua because we saw the quality of the skilled workforce in Chihuahua, and we know they can take this bigger responsibility.” With the opening of this new facility, Hawker Beechcraft’s footprint will be 500,000 sq. ft. in Chihuahua, and will eventually have 1,000 workers, he adds.
The plant is already up and partially running, says Boisture. “We picked this date to have a grand opening because we knew there would be initial activity and it coincided with our first quarter board meeting,” he says.
A big factor in the decision to expand was the training capability that exists in Chihuahua, says Boisture, citing Chihuahua’s High Technology Training Center. “They have the ability to do specialized training for aerospace operations,” he notes. “The center trains and certifies workers, and that is key to having a highly trained workforce. We also get great support from the Chihuahua government.”
The Chihuahua facility currently has 400 workers, which will rise to nearly 1,000 by the end of 2011, says Boisture. “The facilities in Chihuahua will handle meta; fabrication and piece parts manufacturing,” he says. “We have the capacity to build and deliver larger fabricated components that then are shipped to Wichita for final assembly.”
Boisture declined to say what percentage of jobs had been moved from Wichita to Mexico. “When we looked at our work last fall to decide on an eventual destination on where the work was done, we were at that point transferring $25 million of work to other facilities outside Wichita,” he says.