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Founder of Lee Aerospace buys back company

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, at 3:32 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, at 9:43 p.m.

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Lee Aerospace, which has operated as part of the Triumph Group for 14 years, is once again a stand-alone company.

Jim Lee, the founder and president, has re-acquired the aircraft window, sheet metal and composite structure operation.

The company will again be known as Lee Aerospace.

The opportunity to re-acquire the company presented itself late last year.

“In talking with some of the local OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), it was an exciting time to bring it back private,” said Jim Lee, president. “I’m hoping as a local, independently owned company, we might see some opportunities that may or may not have been there as part of a larger organization.”

Lee Aerospace is growing and adding employees as it’s added some new work.

It’s expecting a solid 2014, he said.

The company grew from 180 employees a couple of months ago to about 220 today.

Lee plans on adding another 15 employees, primarily sheet metal assemblers, in the next couple of months, he said.

Being a part of Triumph was a great learning experience, Lee said.

“We are grateful to the Triumph Group for the support and foundation they provided as we grew the business from a producer of aircraft transparencies to include aerostructures and assemblies, composite manufacturing and aftermarket sales, as well,” Lee said in a statement.

He declined to disclose a purchase price.

“It’s pretty much business as usual,” Lee said of the change back to private ownership.

Viking Air has chosen Lee to supply fuselage sections for its Viking Twin Otter 400. Lee Aerospace began work on the project in mid-2013.

Last weekend, Lee shipped the first fuselage section to Viking at its assembly plant in Calgary, Alberta.

The company has other new work from local manufacturers as well, and it’s looking for future growth opportunities, Lee said.

Customers also include Bombardier Learjet, Beechcraft, Cessna Aircraft, Spirit AeroSystems, Honda, Cirrus and Gulfstream, the company said.

Lee Aerospace was founded in 1989 and is located in 146,000 square feet at 9323 E. 34th Street North.

It became part of Triumph is 2000, and over the next 14 years, employment grew by more than 300 percent and revenue by 350 percent, the company said.

Triumph, based in Berwyn, Pa., continues to operate a facility, the former Excel Manufacturing, at 3258 S. Hoover, and a facility in Wellington.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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