Issue Summer 12
As a rapidly growing mid-sized supplier to some of the leading aerospace manufacturers in the world, Valent Aerostructures knows what it takes to keep its clients satisfied. The Kansas City, Mo.-based company not only manufactures all components of major assemblies in-house to control quality, but Valent also consults with its clients before making any major capital improvements.
“We’ve expanded certain facilities based on feedback from our clients, and we’ve even opened new facilities to better meet their needs,” says Bruce Breckenridge, who is executive vice president of business development. “We take their input very seriously and view it as a smart way to grow our business.”
The company operates out of nine locations, manufacturing major assemblies for both small- and large-scale projects.
Valent is best known for its ability to manage programs by producing components and delivering major sections of aircraft on high-rate platforms.
As a testament of Valent’s commitment to clients, one of the company’s locations was named supplier of the year for Boeing in May 2011 – an honor that only 16 out of 17,000 suppliers received that year. “We consider that a lifetime achievement-type award for that facility,” Breckenridge says. “To even be considered for that award, a supplier needs to have incredible quality and performance.”
More recently, in May 2012, Spirit Aerosystems named Valent’s major assembly facility in Cottonwood Falls, Kan., one of its inaugural Platinum Suppliers, an honor that was bestowed on only 13 companies.
For Valent Aerostructures, clear communication and vertical integration provides much-needed control over the production process companywide.
“While many companies in the industry may acquire other locations and treat them as standalone locations, we prefer to remain at the other end of the spectrum,” Breckenridge explains. “We are very much integrated with each other to create a strong internal supply chain.”
This business model allows the firm to control cost and mitigate risk. Valent’s ability to manufacture all parts involved in major assemblies allows for greater quality control, and a more rapid speed to market.
The company’s most recent acquisition was of a metal processing and finishing company. Previously, Valent would have had to paint and process each part externally, but the newest location allows the company to take another step forward in reducing cost while also increasing efficiency and quality.
“Our philosophy here is that you’re only as good as your last delivery,” Breckenridge stresses. “Your weekly and monthly performance needs to keep you in the game, but beyond delivering quality parts on time, our customers have come to see us as a company with the resources to invest in our new technology and new facilities for the future.”
This year, Valent is ramping up capacity to ensure the firm is ready to meet growing demands of its heavy-hitting customers. In the last few years, both Boeing and Airbus made highly publicized statements about increasing production rates, prompting many suppliers to make preparations by increasing manufacturing space, acquiring new locations and investing in overall greater capabilities. “We started making capital investments about a year-and-a-half ago, and tripled the size of our production space at two facilities in order to prepare ourselves for increasing demand,” Breckenridge states.
Valent invests equally in its people, ensuring a safe and responsible work environment. The company provides an aggressive training program in all facilities, and offers cash incentives to employees with outstanding safety and productivity records.
“Our incentive program aligns the interest of each facility with the whole of Valent,” Breckenridge says. “It’s based on the financial performance and equity value of each of those facilities and leadership teams based on the growth and performance of that facility.”
The rural communities in which five Valent facilities are located have provided a solid workforce dedicated to the success of the firm. As a result, it enjoys a low turnover rate and a committed base of long-term employees.
Valent’s competitive benefits package, safe work environment and commitment to providing opportunities for professional growth have each combined to provide an overall ideal workplace. “Our goal is to be the employer of choice in the communities we are located,” Breckenridge adds.
The company is always on the lookout for ideal employment candidates, particularly those with positive attitudes and the right aptitude for the job. “We look for the kinds of people who want to work hard and move up in an exciting organization that continues to grow,” Breckenridge states.