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Gulfstream celebrates opening of hangar

Date: 5/17/2013

By Carley Dangona

WESTFIELD — The city celebrated the opening of the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation's new 125,000 square-foot hangar on May 14. The employees were the focus of the event as politicians and Gulfstream officials thanked them for their skill and hard work.

The $20 million facility has 75,000 square-feet of hangar space. Two overhead cranes and a tail dock are housed within the building. Services offered are aircraft-on-ground support, airframe inspections and repair, avionics installation and repair and interior refurbishment. Gulfstream established its Westfield site in 1998.

The facility prompted 100 additional job openings. Sixty of the jobs were filled in the past year and 40 more positions will be filled in 2013.

Todd Friedenberg, a Federal Aviation Association (FAA) Deputy Regional Administrator, his appreciation for the employees citing their professionalism and dedication to safety and quality. He mentioned the Walk In My Boots job shadow program for high school students that Gulfstream participates in, to encourage growth in a declining field

"The FAA is working to facilitate more partnerships between high schools and working repair stations to develop new ways of increasing student's knowledge about job opportunities and career offerings open to them in aviation. Partnerships like this make a profound impact, not just for the corporate partners, but for local communities too. Local students can experience a day in the life — maybe become inspired to seek training and someday have a job working in their community working as an aviation maintenance technician." Friedenberg said.

State Rep. Donald Humason noted that May 13 was aviation day for the Legislature. He took pictures of the sea of employees and attendees to bring back to share with his colleagues.

"To all the men and women who make this place successful, congratulation and thank you. Thank you for the work you're going to do, thank you for the work you've done to put Westfield Barnes Regional Airport on the map," he said.

Humason added, "It's not just about those pretty jets over there. It's about all the pretty faces; all the men and women the jobs it [the industry] brings to the state."

State Sen. Michael Knapik added a second nickname to Westfield, which is known as "The Whip City." He dubbed it "The Aviation City." He added that the ceremony was to honor the company and the "skilled men and women" who are its employees.

Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik told the crowd that the Gulfstream hangar was his first stop upon his election in 2009. "This is a model opportunity for a public/private partnership to unlock the great potential that this facility has."

He cited the next step as establishing a runway that meets the facility's standards.

Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey told the employees, "We believe in you, we believe in what you're doing, we believe in this company." He added that the state invested in the project in support of the efforts at the facility.

Congressman Richard Neal said, "The success in Westfield is indicative of a 'can do spirit,' or Gulfstream wouldn't be here. I hope that this is the beginning of many, many opportunities for those of us in the valley."

He said that one of the reasons Gulfstream chose the location due to the availability of skilled workers. "Not the least of which is the capacity of all of you in this audience to bring to the table an impressive set of job skills to do fairly sophisticated work. That's the acknowledgement you should applaud yourselves for today."

Gulfstream President Larry Flynn said, "Westfield has been a part of Gulfstream since 1998. I want to take the opportunity to help thank the great workforce here that makes it easy for people like me to decide to spend $20 million in Westfield."

He added, "Service helps sell airplanes. It's the whole reason why we're here. I'm so proud of what this facility has done so far. I look forward to what you'll be doing in the future."

Fran Ahern, Gulfstream general manager, said, "The recognition and gratitude must be extended to each and every Westfield employee. Your commitment, perseverance and customer-first attitude make this day possible."

Ahern shared a customer comment, "Gulfstream Westfield is our choice for maintenance. They are true professionals. Their attitude and competence are exceptional and unparalleled in this industry. Their workmanship and customer service along with their communication are the best we've experienced."