Jason Cox is ready to get work started on construction of a 50,000-square-foot Cox Machine building.
The president of the aerospace supplier expects construction to start soon following the Wichita City Council’s approval this week of the purchase of city land for the new building.
Under the deal with the city, Cox will purchase five acres of land directly across from its 85,000-square-foot building at 5338 W. 21st St.
“This building has expanded twice and we’re landlocked now,” Cox said.
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Cox is paying about $327,000 for the five acres and will build the building and equip it for about $1.5 million. It also will add 50 employees. Once Cox has built a total of 100,000 square feet of buildings there and added a total of 100 employees, Cox could purchase a second, adjoining five-acre parcel from the city for further, future expansion.
“We’re out of room in assembly and we’d like to expand,” Cox said of the need for a new building and more workers. “More of our customers are requesting assembly and as that need grows, we need to grow also.”
Cox said Thursday he wasn’t certain when construction on the new building would begin, but he expects it to be completed and ready to occupy before the end of this year.
Cox machines and fabricates parts for airplane manufacturers and Tier I suppliers. When Cox talks of assembly, that means that more of his company’s customers are not just wanting individual machined and fabricated parts, rather a grouping of those parts that work together and which constitute an assembly.
The company was founded in 1954 by Bud Cox, Jason Cox’s grandfather. Jason Cox and his father Steve Cox, CEO, make up the succeeding generations to own and operate the company that employs 176 in Wichita and 46 in Harper, about 51 miles southwest of Wichita. It moved to its current facility in 2001.
Cox said the sectors of the aerospace industry that his company works in are strong — including general and business aviation — but commercial aviation is particularly robust. “Commercial is going crazy, as you know,” he said.
“And I think there’s a general trend that our customers are buying fewer piece parts and more assemblies.”
Most of the parts and assemblies Cox Machine manufactures are structural, Cox said, and go inside the wings or fuselages of airplanes “that passengers would never see.”
Cox said even though the new expansion is primarily for additional assembly space in Wichita, the company is in the process of hiring up to a dozen machinists as well.
And it’s adding 14,000 square feet on to its 25,000-square-foot plant in Harper.
“I think we have a fairly conservative strategy financially,” Cox said. “That has allowed us to be in a good position for growth, now that the market’s turned around.”