Forbes, Pratt & Whitney, and Aero Gear

Here at Aero Gear, one of our highest priorities is staying up to date on current events and decisions in the aerospace industry.  Last week, Forbes published an article about Pratt & Whitney entitled “Gamechanger:  How Pratt & Whitney Transformed Itself To Lead A Revolution In Jet Propulsion”. While much of the industry has known about the development of the geared turbofan, it was extremely exciting to read about it in a nationally recognized publication like Forbes.  Even more exciting for us, was the mention of Aero Gear as an essential component in the transformation of Pratt & Whitney’s business culture change.

If you haven’t read the article yet, head over to Forbes now!

ACM Work Opportunity Fair & Trade Show


For the 10th year in a row, Aero Gear Inc. participated in the ACM Work Opportunity Fair & Trade Show which is held every October right here in Windsor, CT.  The demand for new skilled workers is, and will continue to be, an issue that must be addressed to ensure the growth of manufacturing in Connecticut.  The Workforce Opportunity Fair provides the ideal opportunity to expose our regional high school and middle school students to great career opportunities in the field of precision manufacturing, particularly in the aerospace industry.  Thanks to the hard work of the ACM Workforce Development Team, attendance this year was yet again outstanding.

As oIMG_2253ne of the many companies represented at the fair, Aero Gear truly enjoyed the opportunity to reach out to our next generation of highly skilled workers.  In addition to the fair, Aero Gear works closely with local community colleges to pursue those students who are truly interested in getting into precision aerospace manufacturing.  Specifically, Asnuntuck Community College, now offers a program that trains students in both manual and CNC machining, and teaches them about quality and Lean Manufacturing through a combination of class room and hands on training with real equipment. As part of the program, Aero Gear provides an internship where the student actually spends time working with us a few days a week.  Many of these students over the years have been offered full-time employment upon completion of this program.

The second half of the ACM Show is dedicated to showcasing our capabilities to customers, both from surrounding states, and the international community.  Connecticut, also known as “Aerospace Alley”, has been a steady and growing supplier to the Aerospace industry for years. Exhibitors at the event frequently have the opportunity to meet and form relationships with international attendees – relationships that more often than not, turn into business opportunities.  In more recent years, we’ve seen representatives from Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce, and GE making the rounds.

All in all, we’ll mark this year as another success at the ACM Work Opportunity Fair.  We’re looking forward to next year, as the show is moving to the CT Convention Center because of increased attendance.

This will be our last blog post of 2015, as we start looking ahead and planning for 2016.  We wish everyone a safe, and happy holiday season.

The Story of Our Tagline

In our last blog post, we discussed the impact social media has had on our business.  It is important to understand that before we decided to pursue social media, we had to look at our overall branding and messaging.

Like many other companies similar to Aero Gear, we had never invested the time or money on actual branding.  We had a logo, a website, and would develop marketing pieces as necessary.  For so long we relied on our reputation to build our client base.  Little by little we began to realize that our customers were comparing us to our competitors – not just in capabilities and pricing – but in branding, messaging, digital presence, etc.  We knew we needed to take Aero Gear to the next level if we were going to expand in to the global marketplace.

First step – we needed to develop a tagline.  What message did we want to convey to our customers?  What message did we want to convey to our employees?  It took weeks of brainstorming and discussion before we agreed on “Insist on Excellence”.

We Insist on Excellence in every aspect of our company.  From our products, to our highly trained employees, and our supplier base.  We hold each individual at Aero Gear to a higher standard.    As we discussed in this blog post from 2013, our people, products and performance allow us to live our tagline on a daily basis.

When customers come to Aero Gear they can count on us, they can trust us to do whatever it takes to get the job done on time. It’s about excellence in what we do, if you insist on excellence then Aero Gear is the place to come. .

We realize the tagline cannot be a gimmick, that it reflects the culture of the company, we walk the talk. This is not only reflected in our performance to our customers, it has to be part of our brand and marketing message.  All of our printed material, our website and corporate videos must be of the highest quality and professionally done. All must be continually maintained to reflect our tagline message so that our existing and potential new customers understand that Aero Gear truly does Insist on Excellence.

Insist on Excellence, we continue to embrace it and instill it in our new and existing employees so that our customers know they can depend on it!

Social Media in Aerospace & Manufacturing

As most people who have worked in Aerospace and Manufacturing know, marketing in our industry has always lagged behind the rest of the business world. We lean towards the traditional, placing ads in Aerospace publications, or attending trade shows, and firmly believe word of mouth and building relationships is more valuable than any marketing campaign.

Back in 2012 we decided to aggressively start marketing our company and capabilities.  We began to see a shift in the industry, and realized that we needed to make Aero Gear stand out among our competitors.  While we started with our overall branding, tagline, and digital presence (which we’ll get to in our next post!), our marketing agency also recommended we get involved with social media.  As our global market continues to grow, we realize social strategy has become more important for today’s B2B companies, and manufacturers of all types are no exception.

At first we were hesitant to do anything social. We had the common misconception that social media meant Facebook.  Sure, we had heard of LinkedIn, and a few of us knew what a blog was – but we didn’t know how it could be applied to Aero Gear.  After many discussions and much deliberation, we decided to go ahead develop a LinkedIn strategy, and blog.

Committing ourselves to maintain a social presence was daunting at first.  We understood that once we started, we had to stick with it.  We began by training key employees on how to use and navigate LinkedIn. As predicted, the results were mixed.  Many of our salesmen liked their way of networking, and using technology to do it seemed like “one more thing to fit in the day”.  However, those who did embrace LinkedIn saw results, and lots of them.  In a matter of weeks, we were getting meetings with people and companies we had been trying to get meetings with for months. It was working.

Next, we developed a Company Page on LinkedIn to post news, jobs, and company updates.  Building a following was slow, we started out with a handful of followers, and currently stand at over 1,800.  That’s 1,800 people who want to stay up to date on Aero Gear, 1,800 people we have the potential to talk to every time we post.

The last step (and perhaps the most intimidating) in our social media set up was the blog.  Would we be able to write a blog post each month?  What would we write about?  Would people read it?  We got to work and recruited employees from each department to brainstorm the topics that we could write about.  The list was surprisingly long!  Our first blog post was published on June 17th, 2013.  We promoted it on our company LinkedIn page, our personal LinkedIn profiles, and even our website.  People read it, and people are still reading our blog posts.  Blogging has allowed us to showcase our expertise in many different areas.  We’ve had our sales team write about new business development, our HR department discuss finding new talent, and even engineers write about the technical aspect of what we do.

About a year after starting our blog, we even got a call from a reporter at the Hartford Business Journal – he had found our blog online, and wanted to use us as a resource for an article he was writing about the Aerospace industry in Connecticut.

While many B2B and manufacturing companies may not initially see the value in social media, it has done wonders for Aero Gear.  The feedback we get from customers, and more importantly prospective customers, has been overwhelmingly positive.

Paris Air Show 2015 – A Recap

Now that I’ve been back in the States for a week after my trip to the Paris Air Show, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on my experience.  My first impression about the show itself was in line with what I had heard – the grounds are massive, with the runway a full 2 mile walk from the exhibitor halls.  No exaggeration – the Paris Air Show is huge!  And VERY crowded, with 2,300 exhibitors from 48 countries and over 350,000 attendees. image3

The business side of the show met all of my expectations and more.  Aero Gear was able to make several key contacts that will likely lead to new work in the future.  While we typically do not leave the air shows with a contract in hand, what we do gain in terms of networking and customer contacts and discussions is invaluable.  This year was no exception, and I am hopeful this will prove to be the most valuable air show for the company to date.

In addition, Gov. Dan Malloy was able to make the trip to Paris to meet with the Connecticut delegation, in addition to staff from the DECD and CCAT.  This was the first time a Connecticut governor has attended one of the major air shows.  I know there has been some discussion about if it is appropriate for the governor to attend the show given the current budget situation in the state.  To that, I have two points.  One, there are many, many other states, regions and nations that send dignitaries to support the companies from their areas.  In fact, according the official web site of the show, 296 foreign delegations attended.  Having the backing of the top official in the state sends a clear message to companies both in Connecticut and outside the state that we take the aerospace industry very seriously here and support our high tech aerospace companies and jobs.  Two, the aerospace industry is big business in the state of Connecticut, and supports tens of thousands of high skilled, high paying jobs.  Aero Gear deeply appreciates the support the state has given the industry in attending the major air shows for many years now.  Below, Gov. Malloy visits the Aero Gear booth in Paris:

DSC_0031And, one of the Governor with entire Connecticut team:

DSC_0041 Team at Reception
After a long week of hard work meeting the customers, suppliers, competitors and other industry participants, I was glad to make my way back to Connecticut.  However, there was great satisfaction knowing that the Paris Air Show turned out to deliver everything I had hoped it would and more.  I have returned excited and energized about Aero Gear’s prospects in the dynamic and high tech aerospace industry.

2015 Paris Air Show…Time to Take Stock in Your Efforts

It’s that time of year again… time for the 51st Paris Air Show! The time when the smell of jet fuel and jet engines spooling up for take-off dominate the atmosphere in Le Bourget, France.

Aero Gear’s senior management has been attending the major air shows for years now. The anticipation and excitement of seeing some of the world’s most advanced aircraft never wanes – especially the ones that contain some of your own company’s product!

This year Aero Gear is sending a manager that has never attended the Paris Air Show. He has seen the results from the returning teams each year and has worked with the follow up initiatives after each show. Here, CFO Craig Scott shares his thoughts on attending the 2015 Paris Air Show:

I was fortunate enough to represent Aero Gear at the 2010 Farnborough Air Show. I remember not knowing exactly what to expect, but once I arrived being blown away by the sheer size and scale of the show – hall after massive hall of exhibitors and a huge outdoor exhibit area with every manner of aircraft both large and small.

2015-05-19 11.19.16Now, a few years later, I am lucky enough to get my first opportunity to attend the Paris Air Show on behalf of Aero Gear.  I’m told that Paris is significantly larger than Farnborough, which is hard for me to even fathom. For me, attending the Paris Air Show is a great reminder of the massive global industry in which Aero Gear participates. It’s easy to get myopic in your day to day routine at work – caught up in details of your own company’s operations and specifics of your own product line while forgetting that the worldwide aerospace industry includes tens of thousands of firms with millions of employees producing and supporting thousands of different aircraft.

I certainly am looking forward to engaging with existing and potential customers about Aero Gear’s value proposition of high quality, on time delivery and responsiveness. But in addition, I hope to spend time visiting with suppliers and possibly even competitors. It is so valuable to get out into the world, beyond your own four walls and see firsthand what is going on in our very dynamic global industry.

It is a truly exciting time to be working in aerospace. New technologies such as geared fan drives, ceramics, composites and even 3-D printed parts are rapidly changing the business as we know it. All of these technologies and many more will be front and center in Le Bourget. It is one thing to read about these developments in Aviation Week, but it’s quite another to see the actual hardware in person, and see the companies and talk to the people that are making them happen. In addition to technology, as a business person I am excited to see firsthand much evidence of the beginning of what should be a long and prosperous period of growth in commercial aviation.

And when I see a flying display of an A380, F16 or possibly the F35 JSF overhead on a bright mid-June day in Le Bourget, I can only imagine the feeling knowing Aero Gear has a small but important role in getting that aircraft off the ground. And THAT is why I’m very much looking forward to my week at the Paris Air Show!