Malissa Nesmith, senior vice president and chief operating officer at GlobalParts Group, is proof that good things can come from adversity.
Before joining GlobalParts, Nesmith worked in engineering at the former Raytheon Aircraft, on the King Air program.
She left the company to stay home with her young children and work with real estate investments.
But her 3-year-old son’s cancer diagnosis changed her world – and brought her back to the aviation industry.
“You don’t know how strong you are until you have to go through something like that,” Nesmith said. “You pull yourself up, and you keep going.”
Nesmith stayed in New York with her son, Canon, for months at a time while he underwent specialized treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering. There were two other children at home.
At the same time, a friend from college and best man at her wedding, Troy Palmer, had a start-up aviation parts distribution business.
“We had been talking about what a struggle it had been to keep up with everything here while being in New York City,” Nesmith said. “I needed something I could do remotely.”
Nesmith had the aviation and business background.
“So he asked me to help him with his new business, basically buying aviation parts and reselling them,” Nesmith said. “I was able to do that over the Internet from the hospital room and process orders and keep the books.”
The business was first based in Palmer’s basement. Then, they rented an office.
That was several years and several moves ago.
In 2007, Nesmith became a co-owner of the Augusta-based company.
Today, Global Parts employs 78 people.
Her son is now 13 and cancer-free.
“He’s a miracle,” Nesmith said. “He’s back playing sports. … You would never know what he’s gone through except from his scars.”
Nesmith grew up in Hutchinson. After high school, she attended the University of Kansas, majoring in aerospace engineering.
There were 250 men and two women in her engineering classes.
“I was a little bit of a fish out of water at the time,” Nesmith said.
So she earned a business communications degree, but yearned to return to aviation.
After college, she worked in Lawrence and Kansas City in real estate. For a number of years, she was regional manager of a real estate development company.
When her husband, Trent, transferred to Wichita, she went to Wichita State University to continue her engineering coursework .
Outside work, Nesmith likes to spend time with her husband and three children, Canon, 13; Cayden, 14; and Caleb, 17. She loves going to the lake and being on the water.