Aerospace OEMs search for local suppliers.

As Lockheed Martin and Boeing scale up operation in the Palmetto State, the aerospace giants are on the hunt for regional suppliers and vendors able to meet local needs.

"I know personally that with Lockheed Martin's new production, that they have been aggressively seeking local companies to do business with, and some of these are not what you would call traditional aerospace suppliers," said Jody Bryson, CEO and president of the S.C. Aviation and Technology Center, home of Lockheed Martin's Greenville facility. He noted that this is just a small-scale representation of the supply chain shift that could be triggered by Boeing's consolidation in North Charleston.

Boeing already partners with 259 South Carolina suppliers and vendors from Anderson to Westminster and leaves a $331 billion purchasing footprint as it does business, according to a 2019 report from the company. AVX, GKN Aerospace, Honeywell, US&S, Sealevel Systems and Mankiewicz Coatings are a few names in Boeing's statewide web of business partners.

The aerospace industry is not like the auto manufacturing sector, said Bryson and a number of other industry professionals SC Biz News spoke with. Unlike BMW or Volvo, Lockheed and Boeing will not be finishing hundreds of vehicles in a day. There is time to transport specialized parts from other parts of the country or world, and it may not be profitable for these companies to leave existing infrastructure behind to be within a few minutes' drive of their OEM partners.

In other words, it takes patience and dedication to foster an aerospace supplier cluster within a centralized location.

One local Boeing supplier, Toray Industries, has traditionally supported Charleston's 787 Dreamliner production a few hours away from its Spartanburg location. Don Myers, the company's aerospace sales director and the chair of the S.C. Aerospace Advisory board, expects other suppliers and OEMS to follow suit in the years ahead.

"I think that you are seeing a trend from the OEM manufacturers to have a little bit of a more localized supply chain," Myers said. "It creates great jobs locally, they're able to keep the quality closer, they're able to cut costs on the shipping of the parts and materials and things like that if the parts manufactured and raw materials are closer to where the parts are being used."

He expects that aircraft manufacturing suppliers, especially in the commercial field, will begin to behave more like auto manufacturers due to...

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