The company that President Donald Trump visited on Friday will soon expand its physical presence on Milwaukee's far northwest side, and create more jobs there.
Derco Aerospace Inc., a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin that provides parts, logistics and repair services to military and commercial aircraft, will begin distributing F-35 Lightning II aircraft spare parts through its warehouse and distribution systems, and as a result plans to hire more workers and add onto its facility at 8000 W. Tower Ave.
“It’s going to drive growth, it’s going to drive jobs here,” Peter Winkler, Derco general manager, said of the new distribution work.
Specifically, the company is looking to grow its number of employees by 15% between now and the end of the year, he said. Derco says it has 280 employees, which means it will hire around 42 more workers. Derco is also planning to add onto its distribution facility, which is located at the front of its campus facing Tower Avenue. The company has three buildings total at its site.
Winkler declined to share the size and price tag of the planned building addition. He said the company expects work to begin on the addition before the end of 2019 and finish up sometime the following year.
Work related to the new F-35 distribution contact is expected to begin later this year, Winkler said. The F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-engine stealth combat aircraft.
The hiring has already begun, however. Winkler said the company is currently looking to hire for 20 open positions beyond its total headcount of 280. The expanded space won’t be needed immediately, he added.
“I think we’re going to be able to reconfigure things in order to meet the initial start-up of that program, and as the program grows, we’ll be growing into the space that we’ve got in the building,” he said. “So, there’s not an immediate need necessarily. It’s not a one-for-one relationship.”
Derco first signaled it might be expanding its facility back in late April, after the company filed a certified survey map with the city of Milwaukee to combine two lots. According to a report from the Department of City Development, the company wanted to combine the parcels “for a potential building addition.”
A Derco spokesperson declined to provide details of the potential facility addition at the time the CSM was first filed with the city.
The company revealed its expansion plans on the same day that Trump visited the facility and spoke in front of company employees. While the president's speech covered a variety of topics – chief among them being the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, the treaty meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement – he talked about the work that Derco performs in Milwaukee.
“With the help of 280 (proud) Americans at Derco, and you know what I mean, the USA truly has the best aircraft flown, the best pilots, and we have the greatest pilots in the world,” Trump said. He later added, “I’m excited to hear, thanks to your new responsibilities with the F-35, your company will be expanding its workforce by 15%.”
Derco was established in 1979. About 250 of its employees are located in the Milwaukee area. Half of the people on Derco’s payrolls are skilled laborers, including technicians and operations personnel, while the rest are customer and logistics support professionals.
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F-35 Lightning II photo, courtesy of Lockheed Martin.[/caption]