Mobile-based Star Aviation will soon invest $2.35 million to expand its operations at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, creating as many as 50 jobs within the next two years.
The Industrial Development Board of Mobile County approved Friday tax abatements totaling more than $261,000 for the project that involves construction of a 24,000-square-foot manufacturing facility to complement the 18,000 square feet already leased at the aeroplex.
Johnny Wacker, Star Aviation’s executive director and a company partner, told board members that business is booming, with 20 new people hired in the past 12 months and another 50 new hires projected within the next two years.
The project is slated for completion by the close of 2015. Star currently employs 130 people, including 85 in Mobile and 45 in Seattle.
The 16-year-old, privately held company specializes in aircraft engineering, certification, manufacturing and technical services, primarily supporting commercial passenger aircraft modifications that consist of components needed for aftermarket systems and equipment such as on-board Internet connectivity.
Wacker told the board that while the company will most likely land a little aftermarket work with Airbus, the double-digit revenue growth Star has realized during the past five years has more to do with a seemingly insatiable appetite among current customers for data accessibility.
“They just can’t get enough,” he said, noting Boeing Co. has been Star’s largest customer for several years.
“The good news is we’re bringing Seattle money back to Mobile,” Wacker told the board.
Gordon Smart, Star’s vice president of business development, said in a prepared statement the expansion will give the company the “bandwidth to accommodate existing customer growing demands as well as attract new customers worldwide.”
Jeff Osborn, Star’s vice president of manufacturing, said in a prepared statement the company will also add one of the largest travel bridge mills on the Gulf Coast to its machining capabilities this summer.
“We already have immediate orders for large aircraft antenna adapter plates, which are to be delivered this year. We are bidding additional work for numerous customers including Airbus and The Boeing Co. Once production begins, we’ll be adding machinists and fabricators to our staff, and expanding our quality assurance department to bring in-house capabilities that we are currently outsourcing out-of-state,” Osborn said.