Aviation

HondaJet helps drive B&B Airparts job growth, expansion (VIDEO)

VIDEO: B&B Airparts Expanding

B&B Airparts is doubling the size of its building in response to the ramp up in production of the new HondaJet once it receives certification. (Jerry Siebenmark/The Wichita Eagle)
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B&B Airparts is doubling the size of its building in response to the ramp up in production of the new HondaJet once it receives certification. (Jerry Siebenmark/The Wichita Eagle)

Aviation subcontractor B&B Airparts is about to double the size of its building in southwest Wichita.

The company, at 1831 S. Hoover Court, expects to break ground this week on a 44,100-square-foot addition.

The addition will more than double the size of B&B’s existing, 39,500-square-foot building.

Founded in the garage of Dan Barnard’s home 17 years ago, B&B is on a growth spurt that he attributes to Honda Aircraft Co.’s new HondaJet, as well as work for Gulfstream and Spirit AeroSystems.

“The HondaJet is the biggest driver for it … because they’re starting into production now,” said Barnard, B&B’s chief executive and owner.

In late March, Honda Aircraft officials announced they received a provisional type certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration for the HondaJet. They said at the time they expected to receive a final type certificate in “the next few months,” which would allow for deliveries of the jet to begin.

Honda debuted the jet earlier this month at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exposition in Geneva, Switzerland, and said three production HondaJets have flown and another 20 were in the production line.

While HondaJet is a new competitor for some of Wichita’s planemakers, it also represents a business opportunity for the area’s aviation suppliers.

Barnard said he expects B&B to reach nearly $15 million in sales this year and more than $20 million over the next three years.

Employment should grow along with sales, he said. B&B has 95 employees and is hiring.

“Over the next year we expect to peak out to about 125, 150 employees,” Barnard said.

Barnard said the building expansion will give B&B a place to store its raw material and finished products. The addition will also accommodate its quality control employees.

Barnard and T.J. Voran, B&B’s sales and marketing director, said for now they could continue to operate in the building they have, but it would be difficult.

“We could probably make it work, but we’re elbows to elbows now,” Voran said.

Barnard said he’s a little intimidated with the growth and expansion project because “I’m a very conservative person.”

The company has averaged between 55 and 60 employees since its founding in 1998, he added.

“But we feel confident” about the expansion, Barnard said, partly because of the management team he has in place, but also because of the company’s low debt.

“We’ve got a lot of assets and things that are paid for,” he said, “which allows us to continue expanding.”

Barnard and Voran said the work for Honda Aircraft started because of a relationship B&B had with some buyers from the former Hawker Beechcraft Corp. Those buyers went to work for Honda Aircraft, and contacted B&B about doing some quick turnaround parts.

That work led to a bigger, long-term supply agreement in 2012 that includes B&B manufacturing metal parts for the HondaJet’s cockpit instrument panel structure, nose bay structure assemblies, and wing and metal details for its composite fuselage.

Barnard added that B&B also builds at least one part for every Gulfstream large-cabin, long-range business jet currently in production, as well as for all of Boeing’s commercial jetliners.

“So we’re pretty diversified,” he said.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.

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