Brian Middleton, head of Aero-Spaces and D&O Engineering, celebrated when he heard Boeing had won the tanker contract Thursday.
The win will mean more business for D&O Engineering.
The company is a representative for companies that make valves, switches and other systems components for manufacturers, and its clients will likely get more work.
"The tanker is a big deal," Middleton said. "(It) will use lots of things — lots of valves, lots of pieces."
D&O employs four people, three in Wichita and one in Dallas.
Middleton, the president, has been there for 32 years. He and the two salesmen bought the company from former owner, Tom Orr, 15 years ago.
Aero-Spaces, a wholly owned subsidiary of D&O, is a warehousing and data management business.
Aero-Spaces recently became the only public customs bonded warehouse this side of Kansas City, Middleton said.
That means it will be able to hold parts that haven't cleared customs yet for clients who are shipping them into the country but want to pay duty on a few parts at a time, he said.
Aero-Spaces guarantees the government will get paid for the duties.
Aero-Spaces' main business is using custom-designed software to manage inventory for clients who build parts for planemakers.
It employs one full-time and three part-time employees.
Middleton, 57, grew up in northern Indiana. He has an aircraft and powerplant license, a pilot's certificate and a degree in aviation science from the College of the Ozarks.
You mentioned your clients will get more work from the Boeing tanker. What will it mean?
"There will be some structures change (on the 767 that will used for the tanker). That's good. There will be lots and lots of systems changes in order to haul all that fuel and pump it out and work the boom. And there's lots of ducting and tubing and all the associated plumbing that goes with that. There will be enough changes (that) it will be an interesting time for us."
How does Aero-Spaces help your clients?
"All the aircraft plants like things delivered to a 'min-max.' That means they have say, five (of a certain part in) their warehouse, but never more than 15. Those are the goal posts. That drives machine shops crazy. They have to manufacture in 50-piece lots, because that's economical.... We write a computer program that does that watching automatically.
"We will always deliver on time as long as we have the parts in our warehouse."
You have an Israeli company that builds some 737 doors for Spirit. What happens there?
"Spirit would like to have some safety stock held in Wichita. The doors are shipped to us in crates. We pick them up and store them in our warehouse and deliver them to Spirit the day that Spirit wants them."
What do you like best about your business?
"Working on commission sales. You get rewarded in proportion to how good you can do. It's not a team sport; it's an individual effort. I like that part of it."
Is that kind of scary, too?
"Oh sure. Somebody made the joke the other day that there's a lot of difference between the guy who signs the back of his paycheck and the guy who signs the front. That's a serious responsibility, not just to people but to the corporation. We have a responsibility not to mess things up."
Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own business?
"I'd encourage them to do it. I interviewed a lot of people before I was an owner who had started their own businesses. Some of them had failed miserably. But not one regretted (it.) It's harder than you think it's going to be.
"Cash is king, and cash evaporates very quickly. I'd encourage them to take their shot at it. The free market system is very powerful and works."
How does the future look?
"I think that D&O will grow as the industry comes back, and I look forward to that. I think Aero-Spaces has a vast potential to grow."