Cox Machine has won the single-largest parts manufacturing contract in its history from Spirit AeroSystems. Cox has signed a seven-year agreement to build structural aluminum and titanium parts for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
"It's a big deal for us," said Cox Machine chief technical officer Jason Cox. "It will have a large effect on the sales of the company."
The company will need to add 12 additional people to its work force of 120. Hiring is expected to begin in mid-2011, as work begins to phase in, Cox said.
He declined to give the value of the contract.
Never miss a local story.
The 787 is a "tremendous project," he said. "We're pretty excited to be on a platform that we know is going to be successful."
The company just completed a 30,000-square-foot expansion to its facility at 5338 W. 21st St. near the Sedgwick County Zoo, which doubled its manufacturing space.
The project was in anticipation of new business, Jason Cox said. The company is in the midst of moving equipment into the space.
In the meantime, the company has undertaken lean manufacturing practices to become more efficient.
That freed up enough cash to complete the expansion and add equipment, despite the tough economy, Cox Machine chief operating officer Brenna Davis said in a statement.
"What we've done is try to make our workplace as efficient as we know how to be," Cox said. "We continue to work on that."
Ultimately, the changes make it easier for everyone to do their jobs, he said.
They've rearranged machines, changed the flow of the product through the shop and made sure employees have items needed to do their job, such as cutting tools, nearby.
A simple addition of a button installed at the machine operators' stations is helping save time and keep machines running when a question or problem arises.
The operators can call for a supervisor by pressing the button. That saves them from wandering around the shop looking for the right person.
When an operator hits the button, a text message is sent to the supervisor's phone. The operator can also key in what the problem may be and whether it's urgent.
"The only way we make any money at all is when people are making parts," Cox said.