Boeing to pick assembly plant site by ‘year’s end’

By Molly Parker
mparker@scbiznews.com
Published Aug. 3, 2009

The Boeing Co. executive who oversees the Dreamliner program said Monday morning that the company is likely to make a decision about the location of its second assembly line in the next five months.

Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager for the 787 program, said there is an internal timeline — though he did not share it — for picking a site to support the production facility in Everett, Wash., where parts from around the world are assembled to create the Dreamliner. Charleston is on a short-list of possible sites, as is Everett, Fancher said.

Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager for the 787 program The company is in the middle of a trade study to determine the best location, and will announce its finding when the time is right, Fancher said. “After all, this is one of those decisions you live with for a long time.”

He added: “I think we’re talking by year’s end.”

Fancher’s comments came on the heels of an employee celebration, during which — on the count of three — workers yanked on ropes and pulled down a white covering, revealing a large blue Boeing sign. The event marked Chicago-based Boeing’s official takeover of the plant that was previously owned by Vought Aircraft Industries.

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Boeing closed the $1 billion transaction with Vought last Thursday, paying $580 million to bring one of its main suppliers into the company fold, and forgiving Vought millions of dollars in advances that Boeing made to the Dallas-based company.

“What you have accomplished here over the last several years and in the last six to nine months is incredible,” Fancher told the crowd of several hundred workers who gathered outside after an employee meeting.

“I’ve gotta tell you,” Fancher said. “I think this is a great day for the Charleston area.”

Boeing Co.'s logo and signage is unveiled at the former Vought Aircraft Industries plant in North Charleston. (Photo/Molly Parker)For the Lowcountry economy, it would be an even greater day if Boeing decided to locate its second assembly plant here. Boeing employs 74,000 people in Washington, according to the company’s Web site, though it does not specify how many of those jobs are related to the 787 assembly line. As important, a Boeing assembly line here would likely fuel a large base of aerospace suppliers, similar to how auto industry suppliers sprang up to support BMW in the Upstate.

Aside from Charleston and Everett, Fancher would not say what other cities that Boeing is considering for its second assembly plant, though the other two places are rumored to be San Antonio, Texas, and Long Beach, Calif.

The business community in the Northwest is putting up a tough public fight to convince Boeing to bloom where it’s already planted. Today, officials from Snohomish County, where Everett is located, and the Aerospace Futures Alliance of Washington, an industry trade group, announced at a summit the creation of a new aerospace training center. The alliance plans to operate two training facilities in the state to meet the continued training needs of Washington’s aerospace businesses, namely Boeing, officials said in a press release. 

"This creates new and needed opportunities for our aerospace workers to keep their skill sets well ahead of our competition," Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said in a statement.

The organizers pulled no punches in naming the summit. It’s called “Saving Washington Aerospace.”

Proving it can stand up a highly skilled work force on the scale that Boeing would need might be Charleston’s toughest fight. Fancher said that the Charleston region is not unique in that it struggled to provide enough workers to meet Vought’s demands during ‘surge’ production periods. During those times, temporary workers were flown in from elsewhere.

Where Charleston might outshine Washington is with its potentially tamer work force. Machinists union workers in the Seattle region have walked off the job four times in the last 20 years, including for two months last fall.

Washington media have reported that political leaders have been told by Boeing officials that the company will grow in Everett if the union agrees to a no-strike clause. On Monday, Fancher refused to say whether that was the case. In early July, the union said that specific offer was never made. 

“I really can’t comment on any discussions we may or may not be having with the IAM,” Fancher said. “That’s really between us and the IAM.”

The Machinists union also represents Boeing workers in North Charleston, though an employee on Thursday filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a decertification vote. Fancher said the NLRB informed the company of the filing.

“No, absolutely not,” Fancher said when asked whether Boeing officials encouraged employees to disband. It would be illegal for them to do so.

“The process is really an employee initiated process, and it’s up to the employees to determine who best represents their interests,” Fancher said.

Additionally, Fancher announced Geoff Schuler as the new chief operating officer of Boeing Charleston. Schuler was previously Boeing’s director of Mission Assurance and Program Operations. He moved to Charleston in March from Huntsville, Ala.

Tim Coyle was named vice president, Boeing Charleston. He has been located at the North Charleston site for about a year. Before that, he worked for Boeing in San Antonio, Texas.

Reach Molly Parker at 843-849-3144.

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Comments:

Added: 4 Aug 2009

The auto workers union is partly responsible for driving the American auto industry into the ground, and the IAM will be partly responsible for driving the aerospace industry into the ground. In 50 years you will find that all these airplanes will be built in other countries. China, and Japan in particular, have made great advances in the ability to manufacture airplanes. The only reason that other markets haven't taken over already (with appoligies to Airbus) is that these countries were so far behind. The union and the management of aerospace companies need to wiseup.

GD


Added: 4 Aug 2009

Global Warming is threatening the survival of life on earth. We, as good stewards of the Environment, should not be manufacturing airplanes of any kind anywhere. Boeing needs to go out of business, or do something else like make oil spill clean-up products. Americans should stop making cars too.

Russ in NC


Added: 4 Aug 2009

Dear Boeing Administrators, I think it's time for BA to relocate other places, 'cause washingtonians are every year demended higher $ and I think BA know wa better then I, so I second for BA the ideal of relocate. Thank You, TV

Timothy


Added: 4 Aug 2009

It's probably a good idea for Boeing to get out of WA, regardless of a no-strike deal. Just look at Michigan. It would provide a nice boost to the South East's economy. Especially South Carolina.

Tom


Added: 5 Aug 2009

A Company can survive without a Union but a Union can not survive without a Company. That being said one must remember that it is the Management of said Company that determines its past, its present and its future. It is Management that decides what it will except from a Union in the form of a contract and it is the share holders that choose to back their decisions or not as well as have the ability to terminate those that they choose to find fault with. Boeing's faults stem from complacency and from adopting Harry Stonecipher's way of doing Business which killed McDonnell Douglas,s commercial airplane division which allowed McDonnell Douglas not to be able to control production, supply and quality of it's parts. Blaming Government, the State of Washington, which has bent over backwards to support Boeing, and its Unions is only a diversion from the real people at fault, its management and share holders!

James


Added: 5 Aug 2009

Its not Union or none....right to work or not. Its the way we do business in our country. The workers seek entitltment and the companies want stocks and bonuses. It used to be we all worked together for the common good. We all shared equally without the greed on both sides.I was proud to work in aviation for 25 years. When we started there was a mutual respect for good workers and good management. Now everyone wants to protect their own interest. We still don't get it!!Boeing in South Carolina is a short term fix for the company. That is why our whole country's business plan is in trouble...

Tom


Added: 1 Nov 2009

Where can i go to fill out a application for the boeing plant in Charleston SC?

Nikki


Added: 16 Nov 2009

Where can I go to fill out job application for boeing plant in Charleston, SC?

C Jessup


Added: 22 Nov 2009

Where can i go to fill out a application for the construction site of the new boeing plant !

Jonathan


Added: 25 Nov 2009

What are some supportive serives that comes along with aircraft building/man.

J. Remmington Grate


Added: 8 Dec 2009

Where can i submit a resume?

William C Higginbotham


Added: 25 Jan 2010

I am currently finishing my master's degree in aerospace engineering at auburn university. i have an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from the university of virginia. I am a s.c. resident and am very interested in employment with Boeing after graduation. I would be available in fall, 2010. Who are the contact persons for the employment process? Please reply so that i can submit my resume. I am currently working on a project that is part of the united states airforce through auburn university thank you, zach reid 703-999-3871

zachary reid


Added: 8 Feb 2010

WHERE CAN I GO TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION TO HELP WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF THIS ? I AM A LICENSED WELDER. THANKS, EARL EUBANKS

EARL EUBANKS


Added: 30 Mar 2010

We are a machining facility located in Troutman, North Carolina. We have had previous experience in machining aerospace parts for Parker Hannifin that were used in the Boeing 777, in the fuel system. We would like very much to be considered to become a vendor of the new plant in Charleston, SC. Could you please direct me to the right person for a interview with the Boeing plant? Thank you for your consideratiion. Sincerely, Jerry Horoschuck

Jerry Horoschuck Cross-Tech Custom Mfg.


Added: 1 Apr 2010

where can i go to fill out an application for the construction site of the new boeing plant in charleston sc.

Teresa


Added: 13 Jun 2010

Would like to apply for pipe fitters assistant. Who do I contact?

R Williams