Jeff Turner, Lynn Nichols look to help air parts testing firm grow

An investment group led by aviation executives Jeff Turner and Lynn Nichols has added a fourth partner and a new company.

New to the group — founded by Nichols, Turner and his son, Brice — is Mike Williams, a former Boeing executive who worked with Turner at the commercial airplane maker and later at Spirit AeroSystems, where Turner retired as chief executive in 2013.

“He brings a new perspective, a different perspective and adds greater knowledge in our group,” Turner said.

With the addition of Williams, the partnership has changed its name to TNW Group.

Williams was a finance and business management director at Boeing, and a senior vice president of finance and vice president and general manager of aftermarket customer support at Spirit. He retired from Spirit in 2014.

“I like working with Jeff and Lynn,” he said. “That’s what was most important.

“It’s like retiring to something. I didn’t need to retire to the golf course.”

TNW Group was formed nearly three years ago with the idea of investing in companies that are owned and based in the Wichita area. The goal of the group, Turner said, is to support and retain locally owned companies that won’t be acquired by an outside competitor or ownership group and moved, or shut down.

“We’re looking for what we can grow and expand here in Wichita,” Turner said.

The group’s newest investment is in Air Capital NDI, a company that does nondestructive inspection of aircraft parts such as landing gear, brakes and engine containment rings.

The company was founded in 2011 by Derik Yunker, who until recently operated the company on a part-time basis. Yunker graduated from Cowley College’s nondestructive testing program and went to work for Beechcraft as an NDI technician.

Following Beechcraft, he worked at Triumph as a quality manager, where he established Air Capital NDI in his off hours. Yunker also holds Level III certification in nondestructive testing from the American Society for Nondestructive Testing.

Last October Yunker quit Triumph to concentrate on Air Capital. He was joined by his business partner, Tom Dugan.

Yunker’s connection to TNW came through Nichols. Air Capital was doing work for Nichols’ company, Yingling Aviation, when Yunker had a conversation with Nichols about his company.

“I wanted to grow NDI, expand and be closer to our customers,” said Yunker, who at the time was operating the business in Belle Plaine.

That discussion eventually led to TNW’s investment in NDI. It also allowed the company to relocate to a larger space in southwest Wichita in a building owned by TNW partner Brice Turner, at 4015 W. May.

The larger space has allowed Air Capital to expand its testing capabilities with the addition of a fluorescent penetrant inspection line and set the company up to broaden the types of parts it tests. Currently, the company does nondestructive testing of parts for aircraft repair shops and maintenance, repair and overhaul companies.

Yunker said the plan is to expand into testing of new aircraft parts manufactured by area suppliers. To achieve that goal the company is finishing up work to earn its ISO 9001and AS9100 certifications — awarded for quality standards and recognized by the Department of Defense, NASA and FAA.

It also is pursuing an additional certification from Nadcap, Yunker said, adding he expects to complete that by the end of the year.

“Lynn and I think with our aviation background we can help Air Capital NDI expand maybe at a faster pace,” Jeff Turner said.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

TNW Group’s holdings

Below are the four companies that TNW (Turner, Nichols and Williams) Group has invested in since it was founded in 2013 by Lynn Nichols, Jeff Turner and his son, Brice. Mike Williams, a former Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems executive, has also joined the investment group whose aim is to invest in and support companies owned and based in the area.

▪  Air Capital NDI

▪  Advanced Guard

▪  Retro Systems

▪  Ulterius Technologies