WENCOR CLAIMS TO BE one of the largest PMA holders in the world and currently has US FAA authority to manufacture more than 2000 PMA parts. Based in Utah, the company boasts more than 3,500 customers worldwide, including more than 250 airlines. A major aerospace engineering, distribution and manufacturing enterprise, it offers aftermarket parts and services to commercial and military aerospace industries worldwide. The Wencor Group is made up of three entities that have long-established roots in the aviation parts supply industry: Wencor, Dixie Aerospace and Kitco Defense.

The company can trace its history back to 1955, when it was founded in Miami supplying seals, o-rings and gaskets and performing FAA-approved repairs. In 1981 it was purchased by current CEO Brent Wood, who relocated the business to Springville, Utah, and changed the name to Wencor West. In 1983 the Utah site received FAA Repair Station approval and in 1989 the company was awarded its first Parts Manufacturer Approval. All firms manufacturing parts not integrated into an aircraft at the time it was type certificated must obtain their own PMAs from FAA, which then issues a "PMA Supplement" to document the approval for each individual PMA part.

STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY

Wencor has its own engineering department staffed by 16 mechanical engineers and a computer-aided design specialist. It also employs a metallurgist who assists in the proper determination and utilization of materials. The engineering department is supported by a substantial technical library that includes component maintenance manuals, service bulletins and overhaul data. For special engineering projects, the department calls upon the services of the Brigham Young University Engineering Dept.

All PMA parts are listed in Wencor's extensive online DataLibrary, and the number constantly is increasing. Believe it or not, the company produces an average of one new part every day of the year. PMAs, however, are only a small portion of its product line. It is also a stocking distributor of more than 150,000 parts from more than 700 manufacturers for maintenance of power generation systems, air management systems, fuel systems, APUs, engines, pneumatics, hydraulics and many other commercial and regional airframe applications.

In 1990 an in-house machine shop for the manufacture of highly specialized items was added to the Utah facility, and in November 1998 Wencor received ISO 9001 certification. A decade later, it acquired Georgia-based Dixie Aerospace, a leading aircraft bearing distribution and PMA development business established in 1968 that this year celebrates its 40th anniversary. Dixie Aerospace recently moved from Atlanta to an 18,288-sq.-m. facility in Peachtree City 25 mi. south of the city, where an "improved warehouse layout" will increase productivity, according to President Jason Caldwell. The complex also includes a new engineering and quality lab that will enable the company to grow its PMA business.

Kitco was established in 1970 in Provo, Utah, designing kits for the US government, OEMs and overhaul shop customers. The original product line included simple fasteners and o-ring repair kits for aircraft hydraulic, fuel and related systems and the company later expanded into large aircraft structural modification kits and in-house mechanical assemblies. The core business now is overhaul and repair kits for many types of military aircraft and the name was changed to Kitco Defense in 2006 to reflect this market focus. It now is a major global custom kitting and military parts distributor.

In December 2000, Wencor went international, expanding its operation to the Netherlands, and dropped the "West" from Wencor West.

STANDING TALL

Today the company has sales and/or stocking locations in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami and Amsterdam as well as Utah, plus operations in Australia, Singapore and Shanghai. A joint venture in Beijing promises to expand business substantially in that part of the world. The group has close to 450 employees worldwide: 275 in Utah, another 75 in Peachtree City and the remainder in forward stocking distribution centers.

In 2007, approximately one-third of Wencor's business was directly with airlines and their in-house engineering/maintenance divisions, a further third was with independent MRO businesses and the remaining third was with brokers, distributors, regional airlines, government entities, etc. On-site employees are stationed at key accounts, including a number of major international carriers such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in the US, Japan Airlines and Garuda in Indonesia.

The company currently handles an average of 500 orders per day resulting in shipment of more than 2.5 million pieces per month, with 87% going to end users rather than resellers. As well as the 250 major airlines, the customer base includes 850 maintenance facilities, 500 manufacturers and numerous resellers.

Wencor also produces kits for repair, overhaul and production, including landing gear overhaul kits for the 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, MD-80, DC-9, DC-10, A319, A320, and A321. Most of the landing gear kit lists are customer-proprietary.

The company points out that most overhauls and repairs require multiple parts, many of which need to be replaced every time. Each kit provides a complete set of all the parts needed, thereby saving costs and ensuring that all items arrive together. Customers need to place just a single order, with cost savings attributable to purchasing, receiving, inspection, accounting, inventory control and parts requisition.

"Kitting has grown and we anticipate that it will continue to grow," Marketing and Business Development VP Nate Dalton tells Airline Procurement. "It is popular because it means customers do not have to stock all the parts in a kit individually, or place separate orders for each part."

The company also operates an automated inventory and supply chain management program called WenStock that automatically replenishes stock inventory in response to either customer or Wencor employee scans. The aim of the program is to improve replenishment cycle time, reduce inventory investment and lower supply chain administrative costs. WenStock is suited particularly for expendable parts with low prices and high administrative costs and supports point-of-use or warehouse stock locations. Current customers include such major US companies as Honeywell (Indiana), Triumph (Kansas) and Airinc (Alabama).

LEAPING AHEAD

Wencor also has an FAA-certified repair facility and for 20 years has specialized in the overhaul and repair of rubber-metal bonded aircraft parts that otherwise must be purchased as new components from the original equipment manufacturer.

"Over the last 10 years, the company has enjoyed substantial growth," Dalton says. "We have a good delivery and distribution system, we sell parts for other peopleWencor is the exclusive or preferred distributor for an impressive lineup of manufacturers such as Eaton, B/E Aerospace, Sonic Industries, Parker Seals, etc., that do not have direct links to airlinesand we have our own PMAs on parts that we have reengineered."

North America accounts for more than 50% of the business, but he points out that "the North American market is mature so the main prospects for growth lie in Europe, Asia and Latin America." The current economic downturn inevitably is making itself felt, with sales growth in the second half of this year beginning to slow, although Dalton says they are still up year-on-year. "We want to continue to expand our product lines, and most importantly we've got to keep adding PMAs. As the market softens, airlines will start to deplete their inventories and that will mean a rebound in the market for us over the next few months. We're in a position to add value and many of our PMA parts cost about 30% less than those supplied by OEMs."

He acknowledges that airlines increasingly will cannibalize grounded aircraft, but he insists "they will eventually need to come back and start buying parts." Wencor also is growing its rotable business in Miami and boosting sales of bearings and hardware to aircraft manufacturers in addition to the more traditional target market of MROs.

Dalton acknowledges that the economic downturn will have some negative effect on business and ultimately on the company's bottom line, but he is confident that Wencor is well-placed to weather the storm. As long as there is air transport, he argues, there will be a need for companies like Wencor to service it.

"The key products of an airline are safety, reliability and punctuality, and to achieve those they need the same features in their supply chain," he says. The combination of Wencor's commitment to quality standards, adherence to aviation authority regulations and friendly customer service makes it "an aviation partner that airline professionals love to do business with," he observes. "Add an e-commerce site that allows customers to obtain real-time quotes and stock status, place orders and track shipments and you end up with a supply-chain partner that is committed to the long-term success of the business relationship."