Frequent fliers may not give a second thought to airplane components such as cabin lighting, but it is the name of the game for Wisconsin-based EMTEQ.

EMTEQ was started in 1996 by CEO Jerry Jendusa and Jim Harasha, executive vice president. “It’s a great American story,” COO Mark Ciepluch says. “They borrowed money from friends, banks and took out second mortgages. They started the company with zero revenue and zero products and last year we exceeded $100 million in sales.”

Fifty-five percent of EMTEQ’s business serves executive and regional aircraft OEMs, and the remainder is dedicated to the aftermarket. The OEM market has seen steady growth since the 2007-2008 market crash, Ciepluch, explains. “The aftermarket is still pretty healthy also,” Ciepluch says. “There is still a fair amount of used aircraft on the market, but we have been able to capture our unfair share. We’ve seen consistent and steady growth.”

EMTEQ has a diversified customer base, with 55 percent of sales in business aviation, 35 percent in commercial aviation and 10 percent in military aviation.

The company’s success is the result of bundling its high-end products and leveraging its highly skilled workforce, Ciepluch says.

EMTEQ offers a large supply of aviation products. Some of its top products include interior LED lights, exterior LED lights, wire harnessing and specialty metal structures. Its products also include mood lighting, RF and specialty cables, aircraft AC outlets and USB chargers, ARINC 404/600 trays and installation kits.

Approximately 42 percent of EMTEQ’s sales are cabin systems including lights, cabin power and other electronics; 32 percent of sales are avionics systems provisions; 12 percent of revenue are engineering, design and certification services; 8 percent is exterior lighting and six percent of sales are aerostructures and interior assemblies.

EMTEQ customers include Bombardier, Dassault Aviation, Duncan Aviation, Embraer, FedEx, Flying Colours Corp., Fokker Services, Greenpoint Technologies, Gulfstream, Pilatus, Rockwell Collins and Thales. EMTEQ is a privately held subchapter S corporation. Its headquarters are located at its largest production facility in New Berlin, Wis., which is 83,000 square feet. It operates seven locations in four countries, including sites in Great Falls, Montana, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. It also manages sites in Brazil and Switzerland.

Designed for Success

The 18,000-square-foot Great Falls site is a high-volume shop manufacturing aircraft harnessing. With a lot of duplication and high demand for quality, lean techniques have greatly increased efficiencies. The New Berlin plant, on the other hand, “has an amazing amount of variation,” says Adrian Davis, director of operations for Wisconsin and Montana. Each facility is setup differently to best accommodate the products and customers served. The New Berlin site is divided into 15 flow lines to maintain high quality and good lead times. More than 1 million part numbers were shipped from there in 2013.

“The plant in Canada is high-mix and low-volume, with lots of value added through integrated solutions,” says Rui Botelho, plant manager, Canada. “We have a number of SKUs based on customer specific solutions,” Botelho says.

The Winnipeg facility specializes in sheet metal and machining – a dying art as other aviation manufacturers are going to machined parts which works for high volume but is very costly for low volume programs. Older aircraft still have complex sheet metal needs to stay airworthy.

Highly Engineered Products

Operations must be agile, Botelho explains, because the plant must be interchangeable and adapt to customer demand. EMTEQ frequently reviews plant layout to optimize productivity while maintaining this level of flexibility.

One unique thing about EMTEQ, and specifically the work done at the Winnipeg facility, is the fact that its products are highly engineered, says Udaya Silva, managing director, Canada. This entails close cooperation with the engineering department at early concept levels and all the way through the process of developing fully engineered products, he says.

Giving Back

EMTEQ strongly believes in giving back to the community. Each EMTEQ location operates off a one page business plan, which includes a major objective for outreach. EMTEQ has donated more than $660,000 over the past 10 years.

The Wisconsin location, for example, has committed to supporting Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Montana’s plant supports Toys for Tots and the Winnipeg location backs the United Way of Winnipeg.