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Don McGinty: ‘A lot of stupid’ made company a success

  • Published Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, at 10:18 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, at 11:10 p.m.

Don McGinty took over his father’s business, McGinty Machine Co., in 1980 after the death of his father, who ran it for more than 30 years.

A year later, the industry took a downturn.

And Cessna, by far its largest customer, sent McGinty a letter instructing it to stop all shipments.

So Don McGinty went out to “hustle for new customers.”

He was in his 20s at the time.

“At that age, you’re too young to know you can fail,” McGinty said. “There’s a benefit of being young and stupid. And in 30 years, I’ve had a lot of stupid. (But) that experience got me where I’m at.”

Today, the company performs work for Spirit AeroSystems, Lockheed Martin, Triumph, Gulfstream, Airbus, Sikorsky, Boeing and others.

And it’s growing.

The company is expanding into the former Big Dog Motorcycle building on Douglas. It will house a fabrication shop scheduled to open in mid-2013.

McGinty said he has learned the importance of not over-financing his company, even when it’s in a cycle of growth.

In college, business students are taught about leveraging.

“Going in debt is a big thing,” McGinty said. “You want to make sure you have enough cash flow to pay your debt even in the bad times.”

But the aircraft industry is marked with peaks and valleys.

During the 1980s, McGinty was able to maintain the business from the sale of a farm. During the mid-1990s, money from the sale of a building at 3700 N. Hillside to Koch Industries kept it in business.

Today, “our finances are in good shape,” he said.

Customer service is also key.

“In the machine shop business, you have to have quality and on-time delivery. Price falls into place if you have those two things,” McGinty said. “They need the parts when they’re asking for them. ... They’re counting on you.”

At the same time, it’s important not to take on more work than a business can handle. Otherwise, you can’t satisfy customers.

Finally, keeping up with current events has helped McGinty anticipate business trends.

“I can see things happening down the road; I can tell the signs,” McGinty said. “Politics plays a major role in knowing which way our business is going to go.”

Contact Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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