(London) Quebec aerospace SMEs participating in the Farnborough Air Show have wasted no time over the past three days. Like the major industry contractors who are benefiting from the resumption of air travel, our nimble and resourceful companies, often working in the shadow of the giants, are also reaping the benefits of the recovery and reaping the efforts that they invested in it.
Posted at 6:30 am
On Wednesday I shared with you the good news that Airbus and Pratt & Whitney gave us on the sidelines of the Farnborough International Air Show, but since Saturday I have been meeting with the directors of some thirty SMEs that are participating in the Show and that also have large stories to tell.
Stories that even force us to review certain apprehensions or certain prejudices that we have regarding foreign companies that put their hands in our businesses, convinced that they will quickly draw all the blood possible from them to leave only empty corpses a few years later. .
If possible. Yes, it is a risk that should not be minimized.
But it’s also conceivable that the arrival of a new player suddenly taking control of one of our big companies could become the trigger for a tremendous growth opportunity.
DCM was founded in the 1980s in Boisbriand, a “machine shop” like there are hundreds in Quebec. Over the years, DCM grew and was involved in various Bombardier programs until the company was acquired in 2009 by Éric Ledoux, a mergers and acquisitions specialist previously working at CGI.
“I saw the potential of the company and, since 2009, we have made six acquisitions. Today our group has three factories in Boisbriand, Blainville and Saint-Bruno. We are specialists in aerostructures and we also do after-sales work”, sums up the CEO and owner of DCM, which employs 365 workers.
DCM became associated with the CSeries program when Bombardier started it and remained a supplier to Airbus on the new A220 adventure.
“We manufacture aerostructure components, ground maintenance tools and spare parts. Since Airbus took control of Mirabel four years ago, we have become the group’s supplier in Toulouse for the rest of its programs –A320, A330, A350…–, to the point that this year we have just opened an office there. workshop”, explains the businessman.
DCM now exports 70% of its production abroad. Airbus Europe, which represented only 5% of its sales four years ago, now generates 20% of its turnover.
“At the head office in France, we recognized our agility and our ability to deliver. We have been very busy all week at Farnborough, demand far exceeds capacity. It is like this, aeronautics, we go through cycles.
“We are almost back to the pre-pandemic level, but we remain cautious. Our only obstacle is the shortage of manpower. We should be above 400 employees, if we find them”, regrets Éric Ledoux.
In the wake of Bombing
Another aircraft subcontractor, Shawinigan’s Delastek, has also grown within Bombardier, but today benefits from both the increased pace of A220 production at Mirabel and Bombardier’s jet business.
The pilot’s cabin designer, who develops and manufactures the metal frames of the cockpit edge panels where the pilot’s screens and controls will be installed, as well as the aesthetic plastic or composite cladding pieces that dress the cockpits of the pilot, invested heavily in 2008 when Bombardier decided to launch the CSeries.
“We were there from the beginning. We manufacture them today, just as we design and develop the cabins of the Global 7000 and 8000 business jets that we manufacture in Shawingan and at our plant in Querétaro, Mexico,” explains Andy Lessard, Delastek Business Development Manager and Plant Manager for Delastek. Mexico.
Son of Delastek’s founder, Andy Lessard must now manage both the growing A220 order book and that of Bombardier Global.
“We had no choice but to open a factory in Mexico, where we manufacture 75% of our cabins, while the Shawinigan factory produces the rest.
“But it’s in Shawinigan where we do all the research and development. We have 20 engineers, but we are expecting a new mandate from a European company that will see us hire an additional 25 engineers in Quebec and maybe even open a plant there,” says Andy Lessard.
While the big contractors are back in business, our SMEs are in a position to make the most of it and also participate in the relaunch of our aviation industry.
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