Aerospace firm plans big expansion

New contract to dismantle Boeing 757s for parts could add hundreds of jobs at Pinal Air Park
2013-08-08T00:00:00Z 2014-07-18T11:53:09Z Aerospace firm plans big expansionPhil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Marana Aerospace Solutions is where airplanes go to die.

In an ongoing deal that may pump seven figures into the business and add hundreds of jobs, the firm recently contracted to perform "end-of-life services" for Boeing 757 aircraft that are being harvested for parts. Marana Aerospace declined to reveal which entity the contract is with, or a specific dollar figure.

"Basically the customer provides a list of components they wish to be removed, and those components are intended to be utilized and sold in the marketplace," said Fernando Pereyra, senior director of customer service. "We just facilitate that. We provide services of removing the parts, packing and shipping."

Many of the Boeing 757s have been around for 25 years, and most have had just about every part replaced more than four times by the time they reach the ends of their life cycles, Pereyra said. The industry is phasing out those models in favor of more cost-effective and efficient Boeing 737-900ERs.

The firm performed the end-of-life services for two 757s in July and plans to do two or three a month going forward.

Marana Aerospace Solutions CEO Jim Martin said the new business may spark the firm to eventually double its number of employees. According to Star 200 data, the company currently has 295 employees.

"We're always proud to put people to work. We have a lot of personnel at the air park, and our hope is to continue to increase employees," Martin said. "We think the market dynamics are such in the aviation space that we have an opportunity to build this business substantially."

Many large airplane manufacturers that have traditionally outsourced maintenance and labor to off-shore companies have started to return to domestic firms because global labor costs are rising, Martin said.

"What we've seen in the last couple years is that labor rates have caught up with North America, and in some instances exceeded them," he said. "Therefore they have the opportunity to 'in-shore' the work" rather than go off-shore.

The business expects to expand its heavy maintenance operations in addition to its end-of-life aircraft services.

The 37-year-old aviation firm, which before 2011 was known as Evergreen Maintenance Center, is on 1,200 acres at 24641 E. Pinal Air Park Road at Pinal Air Park, north of the Pinal County line.

The business, a founding member of the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association, stores, maintains and dismantles aircraft. The Boeing 757 is the seventh aircraft type the firm has dismantled in the last year.

It services Airbus, McDonnell Douglas, Bombardier and Embraer aircraft, and features a 6,800-foot runway for commercial and military aircraft.

"Marana is ideally suited for this type of work because of our location and the facilities that we have," Martin said, referring to his company.

Martin said Southern Arizona's workforce is well suited to the business's needs. Because the area is a retirement hot spot, former military mechanics looking to supplement their income are in ample supply.

"The mechanic pool we have in North America is aging. More and more mechanics are retiring," Martin said. "Arizona is a nice place to retire and still be able to work. I think we have the opportunity to continue recruiting and retain those types of mechanics."

DID YOU KNOW?

The 2,080-acre Pinal Air Park is on the west side of Interstate 10 just north of the Pima-Pinal county line. Much of the former military base was linked to covert CIA operations during the Vietnam War.

Source: Star Archives

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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