Boeing predicts the global market will need 34,000 new airplanes over the next 20 years, and Pierce County aerospace suppliers can help the company compete for that business by finding ways to work faster while providing a safe, efficient and reliable product.
That was a key message from the first Pierce County Aerospace Summit, held Friday, July 27 on the campus of the University of Washington Tacoma.
“It’s really important that we increase production rates and deliver these planes at a higher rate and a higher quality,” Drew Magill, director of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told suppliers during the summit’s keynote address. “We’re very confident we can build the most fuel-efficient, most reliable airplanes, and we can be successful in this market for the next 20 years.”
Magill said the company is working with suppliers to increase production to address a backlog of 3,900 airplane orders valued at $302 billion. Boeing feels the pressure because it expects to see more competition from manufacturers in China, Brazil, Canada and Japan, in addition to the fierce rivalry with European manufacturer Airbus.
Magill made his presentation to 150 people representing more than 20 aerospace suppliers as well as government agencies, banks, schools and others connected to the industry. The Aerospace Summit was organized by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
“As Boeing showed us today, the supply chain must work together to quickly deliver the planes that are already ordered as well as keep up with increasing global demand,” McCarthy said. “Our goal is to help local companies connect with each other and with available resources so they can tap into the growth of this industry. When they grow, our local economy grows.”
Bruce Kendall and Chris Green of the Economic Development Board highlighted the work of the Tacoma Pierce Aerospace Partners, a new coalition of about two dozen organizations. The partnership’s goals are to retain and grow current companies and attract new business. The partnership is developing an online resource for local suppliers at www.aerospacetacomapierce.com. They plan to upload Magill’s market outlook presentation to the site soon.
Aerospace Summit participants also heard panel discussions about workforce training, taxes and financing, organizational development and other resources that are available to the local industry. Panelists represented WorkForce Central, Invista Performance Solutions, Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition, Washington State Department of Commerce, U.S. Bank, Moss Adams and General Plastics.
Pierce County is home to more than 80 companies that work in composites and plastics, tooling, fabrication and machining, software, metals and engineering, as well as the Boeing plant in Frederickson that employs 1,700 people.
“I applaud Pat McCarthy, Bruce Kendall and others in Pierce County for spurring collaboration among industry, government and education,” said Bob Drewel, the Puget Sound Regional Council executive director who attended the summit. “We have the talent, resources and ambition to be global industry leaders for years to come, but we must work together to be successful.”