Last week, the Arizona Manufacturers Council named Boeing the 2018 Manufacturer of the Year. The award recognizes Boeing as a leader, innovator, and one of the globe’s most consequential manufacturers.
In 1982, Boeing landed in Mesa, Arizona and set up one of their major manufacturing plants. “In Mesa, our focus has been rotorcraft,” Steve Wade, vice president of attack helicopter programs and senior Mesa site manager, said. “Over time we have been able to use advance composites and robotics to improve that technology in performance and affordability.”
Mesa’s Boeing site is known for producing the AH-64E Apache and AH-6 Little Bird helicopters. The Apache is a multi-mission combat helicopter known for being the best attack helicopter in the world. More than 1,159 have been produced for the United States and 15 allied nations.
The approximately 382-acre facility not only produces the heavy duty vehicles, it also uses the manufacturing site as a testing facility. “We’ve got this great weather and lots of space where we can do our testing for both manned and unmanned vehicles. Arizona is a great place for Boeing,” Wade said.
In the 36 years Boeing has been in Arizona, they have made a significant footprint on Arizona’s economy. The aviation company spends approximately $1.2 billion with nearly 350 businesses in Arizona with different suppliers and vendors, according to Wade.
The facility currently has 3,700 employees and will continue to grow, as Boeing announced last year that more jobs from their corporate headquarters in Seattle will be moving to Mesa in the next year or two.
“Overall, Boeing is focused not just on our products and customers but our community,” Wade said. “Just last year, employees donated about 2 million dollars to the community and 19,000 (hours of) volunteer time, that’s significant.”
According to Wade, Boeing is embedded in Arizona and looks to the future on how to gain new talent and retain their existing employees. Boeing goes about this in several ways, one being offering employment opportunities for veterans. The Mesa facility has nearly 700 employees who have self-identified as having served in the military prior to their employment at Boeing.
Another way Boeing is involved in the community is through schools. “We focus on interfac[ing] with our community through STEM, making sure the children of Arizona have a future,” Wade stated. “When we’re looking to hire, we look at the entire pool, but we start with the grade schools, the high schools, the local colleges and tech schools in the area. There is a great pool in Arizona from which to pick, so we are excited to be here.”