On the Wings of Innovation

On the Wings of Innovation

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.

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