Gulfstream Opens new 110,000 sf Hanger in Brunswick

| July 11, 2015

Brunswick

BRUNSWICK — With a gleaming G450 jet parked inside, Gulfstream held a grand opening Thursday inside its new 110,000-square-foot hangar at the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.

But for all the shine on the plane and the building, Ron Aldrich made sure the people in the blue and gray work clothes were recognized and applauded.

It is the hard work, dedication and attention to detail that makes it possible for Gulfstream to expand in Brunswick, Aldrich said.

Mark Burns, who was recently named president of Gulfstream, said much the same in speaking of the expansion that was completed the end of May.

“The real driver was the employees in Brunswick and the job they do every day,’’ he said.

To Aldrich’s list of employee attributes, Burns added craftsmanship and friendliness.

About five years ago, when he was still president of Product Support for Gulfstream, he came down to Brunswick and walked the property with Aldrich and talked about the possibilities, Burns said.

“I talked with customers and heard nothing but praise,” Burns said. “When I drove back to Savannah that day, I was impressed we needed to invest here.”

And so the company has, spending about $25 million on the hangar that opened in late May to begin maintenance work on six of its airframes. The company already has hired 60 people for the maintenance facility, raising its Brunswick workforce to 250, and will hire about 40 more, spokesman Steve Cass said.

The company has about 2,400 jets around the world, about 75 percent that are owned by large corporations and the rest by “high network individuals,’’ company spokesman Sean Coughlin said.

Gulfstream likes to see the aircraft once a year and there are other maintenance checks based on flight hours, he said.

The company came to Brunswick in 1992 and put 14 employees to work in maintenance in a former Navy hangar at what was once the Glynco Naval Air Station that is now the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.

In 1998, the company added completions work in which jets built in Savannah have seats and other furnishings added. The two operations are housed in two hangars with a total of 55,000 square feet. Gulfstream also has a 5,000-square-foot parts and materials warehouse and a fuel farm in Brunswick.

Robert Burr, executive director of the Glynn County Airport Commission, said it is the biggest development ever for the airport.

“This is what we want to continue to do, use the assets and bring this kind of growth and development to Glynn County,” Burr said.

The company provides a number of skilled jobs to the local economy, but it also has to recruit nationwide to find those with the special licenses required for FAA certification, he said. The European Aviation Safety Agency and Transport Canada also have authorized Brunswick as a maintenance facility.

When the workers move to the area, they pump money throughout the economy, Burr said.

“A lot of relocated employees are buying homes and furnishings and cars,’’ he said. “That drives the economy long term with committed employees.’’

Real estate agent Missy Neu credited Gulfstream for some of the recent upturn in the market in the area.

But not all of the workers are making that kind of investment, at least not yet. Rick Townsend, CEO of the Golden Isles Career Academy, said the school has three students in Gulfstream’s apprenticeship program, all working through the school’s work-based learning program.

Townsend said those students are very likely to get permanent jobs at Gulfstream.

In addition to Gulfstream, Stambaugh Aviation, Delta Air Lines and general aviation are contributing to airport growth, Burr said.

Manning Aviation, the fixed base operator, just announced it would spend $2 million on infrastructure, he said.

Mel Baxter, interim director of the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority, said “the chill bumps came up two or three times” as Burns spoke about the company’s decision to expand.

“To have this group here when they can go anywhere they want to go?’’ he said.

Baxter gave the County Commission credit for its help in the expansion.

Commissioners approved the issuance of $8.5 million in revenue bonds to pay for ramp improvements at the airport that are critical to aviation investors, he said.

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