On Nov. 2, Forward Sheridan and a collective of economic development partners convened a case study focused on the opportunity for Wyoming companies to participate effectively as part of the aerospace industry domain.
Our goal was very simple: provide local manufactures a forum to talk about their experience and provide an industry viewpoint by two aerospace companies. This was for both buyers and sellers. This was the seventh technology forum Forward Sheridan has convened and this was, by far, the most successful from many viewpoints.
First of all, our participants had some tie to Sheridan and most had a technical tie with the University of Wyoming. These were folks that knew our landscape. Secondly, and a very salient component of our message, was the key factor that Wyoming manufacturing companies have the skills, capacity and, with technical support from UW, the capacity to address and function in the aerospace market. The third element is that Sheridan College has demonstrated skills in training technical staff in many manufacturing aspects.
How big is aerospace? Colorado, our neighbor to the south, advertises 188,000 jobs in aerospace and a payroll of $3.5 billion annually. Utah is almost as strong — 42,000 employees. Wyoming manufacturers and engineering firms need to look at our adjacent states as early targets.
Why do we care? There are several firms in our region that can capitalize on this industry.
Kennon Products is deep and growing in aerospace and defense; they continue to secure work and, more importantly, provide clean solid employment for many from labor to sophisticated engineering approaches. L&H Industrial is a poster child for a company that builds and maintains mining equipment and successfully transfers that skill to NASA. Vacutech LLC currently is performing subcontract work for a Boeing contractor.
All are in the aerospace manufacturing industry, and our goal is to leverage and build on that.
As a piece of support data, Forward Sheridan conducted a brief survey with nine manufacturers and subcontractors. Some of these folks had no idea where Wyoming is; that is a challenge, but our findings are clear:
• Are major industrial companies looking for subcontractors? Yes.
• What do they look for?
A. A company with unique and consistent skills to enable them to meet the mission.
B. A company with flexibility and desire to work through issues.
C. Wherewithal to stay the course and build the contract, thus not an overnight sensation.
D. Desire to grow with the parent company.
Procurement contracting is a formidable challenge for a small Wyoming company. Again there are great resources to migrate through this challenge. The key is relationships with project managers; that is the course of action.
Wyoming companies have a good industrial reputation. The challenge is to bring our skills and desires front and center. That takes a concerted, organized effort and action. Forward Sheridan is working this way now.
And, Forward Sheridan would like to extend our congratulations to Zoila Perry as she is leaving Forward Sheridan to be the director for Downtown Sheridan Association. From our board and our investors, Zoila did a solid job and her enthusiasm to help in all aspects was a benefit to us all.
Thank you and congratulations!
Jay Stender is the executive director of Forward Sheridan.