Aircraft service provider Able Aerospace Services is investing $9 million to expand its facilities at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa.
The new development will include a $5 million, 50,000-square-foot addition to the existing headquarters and $4 million in new technology and equipment.
“This expansion will add another 100 jobs onto what they currently do here and allows them to expand,” said Ryan Smith, director of communications and government relations for Gateway Airport. “That allows them to add a new product line to what they currently offer.”
Able, a Component Repair and Overhaul (CRO) provider, receives aircraft parts from customers and repairs or refurbishes them to either return or sell. According to Able, the expansion will prepare the facility to service more complex components from newer aircraft, including more modern helicopters and small, private jets.
“We’ve grown significantly in the last two years — probably about 30 to 40 percent — and are coming to a point where we need to continue to invest in new products,” said Gabe Massey, general manager at Able. “The market’s doing well, our business is doing well, our business is growing, so we needed the space.”
Timeliness was a main criterion in choosing where to expand, and Gateway Airport made that decision easy, Massey said.
“The airport recognized that and pretty much accelerated everything for us and helped the schedule,” he said.
In 2013, Able struck a deal with Gateway Airport and the city of Mesa to form a “unique partnership” in which the airport and the city financed Able’s workspace and leased it back to the company, Smith said.
“Able is really kind of our homegrown, perfect success story,” Smith said. “It was a public-private partnership, and what it allowed Able to do was invest those dollars into equipment.”
Since 2013, Able’s workforce has grown by at least 200 employees to include more than 450 mechanics, engineers, customer service and sales specialists. Its footprint has also expanded with the addition of a new mezzanine space, a new paint facility and the build-out of hangar space that is home to the Able Maintenance Center, according to Able.
The city of Mesa is “proud” that Able Aerospace Services has chosen to expand further, said Mayor John Giles in a press release.
“They are an exceptional business leader in aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul for both military and civilian aircraft,” Giles said in the release. “It has been exciting to watch Able’s number of high-quality jobs grow since moving to the Gateway area in 2013, and we are thrilled to welcome up to 100 more with this expansion.”
Massey said Able’s partnership with Gateway Airport for the past five years has “only been positive.”
“Every time we need some help or we need feedback or we want to do something to the facility, their approach has always been collaborative, always been in the best interest of our business,” Massey said.
Able has a significant impact on the airport’s revenue, Smith said.
“Our airport’s a unique set-up in that we view ourselves as a really large economic development project that just happens to have an airport,” Smith said. “[Able] is a big part of who we are. Obviously, any time Able receives or sends a shipment by air, that’s added cargo traffic that we certainly appreciate, that we love.”
But the airport isn’t the only one benefiting from Able’s growth in Arizona, Smith said.
“Their impact for us are the employees that come to work every day and stay in the area, spend their money in the restaurants and other services around here,” Smith said. “That’s really what their positive impact for us is.”
Massey said there are several factors that make Arizona the right place for Able, especially the “very friendly” regulatory environment. Able often works with hazardous materials, and the agencies that oversee environmental health and safety “have been extremely easy to work with,” he said.
“It’s a great location for talent, great location for partnerships with schools,” Massey said. “We have really good relationships with all of the technical schools in the Valley, and we know there’s a long-term future of talent.”
When hiring from outside the state, it’s easy to convince people to make the move to Arizona, he said.
“It’s an attractive place to live, so people want to come here and enjoy the environment and the weather,” he said. “The housing and the community around the area is offering really good community and schools for our employees, so people enjoy living in this area.”
Textron Aviation Inc., a multibillion-dollar, multinational aviation conglomerate headquartered in Rhode Island, acquired Able Aerospace Services in 2015.
“Able’s world-class support aligns with our mission to provide customers with the resources needed to thrive and succeed as aircraft operators,” said Kriya Shortt, senior vice president of customer service at Textron Aviation. “With this expansion, the Able team will broaden its service offerings even further, truly making it the CRO provider of choice in the aviation industry.”
Able’s Mesa location delivers “more than 10,000 FAA-approved component repair, overhaul, parts and aircraft completion solutions for civilian and military, fixed- and rotor-wing operators in more than 60 countries,” according to the press release.
“They really could locate anywhere in the world that they wanted to,” Smith said. “They’ve purposefully chosen Arizona, they’ve purposefully chosen Mesa, because of the proximity to skilled labor, the opportunities they have to grow, the partnerships that they have with the city of Mesa and with the airport. They view themselves as part of the team, and we do the same.”
Construction of the new facility began in December and move-in is scheduled for summer 2019.