Sagar Patel sees the future is taking off, and he sees taking off as the future.
As president of the aircraft turbine division of Woodward, a Rockford, Ill.-based manufacturer of aircraft turbine engines housings, his company’s near-term future is tied to the aircraft industry’s global expansion.
“The commercial aerospace fundamentals are driven by consumers. Middle-class growth in the world is forces a lot of people to travel for business,” Patel noted. “Meanwhile, global commerce drives growth on the freight side. The military side is always a heavy spender in the world. The fundamentals are there: Fuel prices are stable and airline ticket prices are pretty reasonable. Older airplanes are coming in for retirement. Aerospace is in a sweet spot. There are not many industries where growth is twice that of GDP.”
Teresa Beach-Shelow helped found Superior Joining Technology in nearby Machesney Park with her husband Thom Shelow a quarter-century ago with a simple aspiration to provide high-quality welding. A business that began in their garage has become a global leader in precision welding. The Shelows’ business has expanded into non-destructive testing, laser marking, and additive manufacturing, but it is their work as an AS9100-certified shop for the international aerospace industry that has found their work going up on NASA flights.
Read more: On the Wings of Innovation