People-first aerospace equipment manufacturer, ONTIC, discusses strategic success and operational optimization 

Leading aerospace licensor and manufacturer, ONTIC, has skyrocketed to success over the past 12 months. The company has seen major geographical expansion and considerable growth across all markets since 2022, as Chief Executive Officer, Gareth Hall, reveals: “It’s been a huge year for us. We now have seven sites, and we predict that the business will be almost three times the size it was in 2019 by the end of this year.

“In the last 12 months, we’ve deployed close to $200 million worth of capital, bought additional product lines, and seen really momentous growth. It’s also been a period of significant change within the business. We’ve positioned ourselves well so that the company can continue to grow. However, we’re not taking the past years’ success and using it to rest back on our laurels. We’re looking for further opportunities, and always pushing the envelope in terms of what we can do next.”

A strong focus on people and process has helped put ONTIC on the map as one of the biggest international aerospace component manufacturers. As Brian Sartain, Chief Operational Officer at ONTIC, discusses: “I’ve been in the industry for about 30 years now, and in that time, I’ve worked for major players such as United Technologies and Goodrich Aerospace. Now, at ONTIC, I’m witnessing a really striking pace of growth. Not only are sales three times what they were just a few years ago, but the company’s footprint has expanded rapidly. We’ve got a new facility in Creedmoor, North Carolina, which is helping to prepare the business for even further growth by providing us with the additional capacity we need. We’ve even extended the site another 50,000 square feet due to increased demand. Additionally, we’ve recently acquired another building in Bishop’s Cleeve, Cheltenham, UK, which means we’ll be able to bring in more employees and licenses.

“Our ultimate goal is to double the size of the business again. Growth on that scale requires a lot of hard work and preparation. Of course, we’ll need the manpower to make it happen, but it will also require careful strategy from our leadership team. We are now working toward a position where the company will have global purchasing power. Additionally, we want to leverage that power to partner with the very best suppliers in our industry, making our operations more efficient and adding value to our offering.

“The success ONTIC has seen over the last few years means this is a crucial time for the business. We have all these huge opportunities in front of us, and so much of it comes down to having the best possible employees. That’s why we’re innovating regarding the way we manage people. We’re investing time into our apprenticeship model so that we can bring talented young people into the business. We’ve teamed up with local workforce boards to better educate our employees and help them reach the next level of their career.

“When I joined ONTIC, it was really refreshing to see a company culture that really invests in its employees. There are a lot of great opportunities for everyone who joins. Having been in the industry a long time, being part of ONTIC is something that definitely makes me proud. We won the Best Youth Development Award at the UK Business Awards a few months ago. That was a huge accomplishment for everyone within the business. Part of the reason we were given the award was our dedication to training and long-term learning, for example, all our employees are given access to free LinkedIn learning. With early careers specifically, our employees also receive life skills coaching like cooking on a budget, financial planning, and support with driving lessons among other things.

“We recognize that everyone is different and will require different kinds of support. We invest in our people and ask about their career goals so that the business can invest in making that happen. It’s very self-directed with many employees completing additional qualifications while at ONTIC. Because our employees are getting that level of investment from us, we see high levels of retention and dedication to the business.”

It’s the start of a new year and the team behind ONTIC are already looking ahead. Gareth reveals what the company can look forward to in 2024: “I think everyone in the industry is really pleased to see that COVID is behind us. This year we hope to see people’s confidence coming back, because it has been a difficult time. We’re seeing an increase in defense budgets, so there’s a good chance we will invest in that side of the business throughout 2024. We’re also going to be working on operational improvement, which essentially entails the optimization of all our operations. For example, we will be looking into where we can improve lead times and customer interfacing processes.

“Our strategy will largely remain consistent for 2024. We want to continue what we are doing, growing and improving with every project we undertake. We will remain focused on serving the customer, developing strong product lines and licensing them accordingly. We’re already seeing this strategy come to life, which is very promising. We are hoping this year will be as successful, if not more, than 2023. Personally, I think we should be very optimistic.”

As a forward-thinking organization, ONTIC has big plans for the future well beyond the next 12 months. As Gareth emphasizes: “In five years’ time, ONTIC will have continued to evolve into a company twice its current size. The business will remain focused on strategy and serving all its valued customers and partners. We will need to remain agile and adapt our offering to the industry as it changes.”

Revealing his thoughts on the road ahead, Brian concludes: “The next five years will be all about operational transformation. By optimizing our processes, we will be able to scale the business indefinitely, which is a very exciting prospect. For me, it’s a great opportunity to take the lessons we’ve learned and enable growth for the next five years and beyond. We’re now at the start of that journey, and we don’t intend on stopping anytime soon. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”