Growing Wichita Firm Supplies Aerospace Parts Across Globe
December 4, 2015
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  • The success of Globe Engineering, which is coming off a record year, is due in large part to its diversification, said president and CEO Jeff Teague.

    “We’re busy,” Teague said. “We probably handled the recent downturn in the aviation industry here as good as anybody because we don’t let any one customer become that big a part of our business.”

    Globe, 1539 S. St. Paul, is an employee-owned aerospace parts manufacturing and assembly operation with a workforce of more than 200.

     The company, founded in 1946 by Albert Nelson, specializes in sheet metal fabrication and provides exhaust systems, tube assemblies, fuel and hydraulic lines and systems and spinners for propellers, among other parts, for a wide range of aerospace customers.

    Teague said Globe does a lot of supplying for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, a military transport aircraft. For the fiscal year that ended Oct. 31, Teague said, the company had nearly $51 million in sales from 168 customers worldwide.

     While attending Kansas State University, Teague started working a summer job at Globe in 1982 and has been with the company since, ascending to his current position after the retirement of former CEO Ron Ross last year.

    “We try to keep a good balance between general aviation, commercial aviation and military,” Teague said. “Although I think it’s starting to change, there’s definitely been a downturn in general aviation, but the other two have offset that for us.

     “This year, we’re probably 35 to 40 percent military and probably the same commercial.”

    In addition to its complex on South St. Paul, Globe also opened a 24,000-square-foot facility at 2432 S. Sheridan in June. Teague said the first test samples from the new facility went out in November.

     In September, the Wichita City Council approved an additional five-year tax abatement agreement for the company after it exceeded a job-creation goal that served as an incentive for a previous property tax break tied to an addition at its main campus.

    “Globe Engineering is far exceeding our expectations,” said Jeff Blubaugh, Wichita City Council member for District 4. “They continue to be a paradigm for other Wichita technical parts manufacturers that supply the aircraft and aerospace industry.”

     Along with its priority to have a diversified business, Teague said the late Nelson’s decision to sell his stock in Globe to an employee stock ownership plan in the 1990s has led to a productive work environment.

     “There’s 214 people here with concern about what goes on,” Teague said. “It’s easy to motivate people when that’s the case.

     “We have a lot of skilled labor positions, but we also have general labor. We’ve had very good luck with farm kids from the area. We have a lot of farm kids from Cheney, Kingman, Garden Plain, Rose Hill and Augusta, places like that.”

    Much of the time, Teague said, Globe is more of a “job shop,” where the company builds parts to the specifications given by a customer, than an engineering firm, though he added that innovation is also a part of the culture at Globe.

     “Albert and the patriarchs of our company earned a reputation for building parts that nobody else could build,” Teague said. “Albert didn’t like the word ‘can’t.’ That’s why we have machines and forming techniques now that nobody else has.

    “We build to print, but if we see a better way to do something, we’ll offer those suggestions. Customers know that they can offer a base outline and let us finish it.”

     Mark Graf, 56, has been with the company for nearly 40 years. He said Globe had about 60 employees when he started.

     “This is a good place to work, but there is a lot required of you, too,” Graf said. “We follow tough rules.

    “Our goal is to be a one-stop-job shop — we want to start it and finish it under one roof for our customers so they don’t have to shop around to get it all done.”

    On the other end of the longevity spectrum, Cody Knuth, 24, said his background in welding has helped him during his three years with Globe.

     “The cool thing about what we do is we start a part from a flat piece of material, and it ends up being a finished piece that goes on a helicopter or aircraft,” Knuth said. “We final inspect our products right here, send it to the customer, and it goes directly on the aircraft.”