Few people enjoy moving, but usually with some planning, what could be a rough road is a smooth journey.
That’s the way it was for Mike Helmer and his staff at Derby’s Aircraft and Commercial Enterprises when it moved to its new home. It wasn’t far away: the company had been at 221 W. Market and the new location is a bit to the north at 800 N. River in the West End Business Park.
Its brand new $1.8 million facility has more space – a lot more space – than the old building.
The growing parts company went from 6,500 square feet to a 15,000-square-foot building that is set on a 2.2 acre site.
The move happened in mid-March and was set up for a weekend, so they only had to be closed for one day.
“That’s pretty good,” Helmer said.
The two- to three-day move went smoothly, he said, but then again, there was a lot of work – six months’ worth – to ensure the transition was uneventful.
“We planned it out and had a process.”
Helmer smiles when he talks about all the space he now has.
“We had it all stacked up in every nook and cranny in the other place,” he said.
Along with more room, the new facility makes the delivery and shipping process easier. Because of the loading area, large trucks can now back up and unload without having to have the freight unloaded by forklift and then transferred into the warehouse.
It also has some special features. One is a climate control room for items that can be affected by high temperature, such as teflon tape for wire harnesses.
The company has installed two massive overhead fans to keep the air moving.
There’s also a safe room, complete with six-inch-thick concrete walls, to offer shelter in case of a tornado.
The other building is empty right now and Helmer is not sure what he’s going to do with it, but he wants to either sell it or lease it, whatever works out best.
In the meantime, the new building is allowing for such things as bringing in sales people for meetings and product demonstrations. In that regard, there will be 20 to 30 people for sales meetings and product demonstrations later this month.
The structure is called a Chief building and the contractor was Smith Construction of Wichita, which puts together the metal building parts on site. Smith Construction has built numerous structures in the area based on Chief designs.
The business, which was founded in 1984 and incorporated in 1986, distributes a wide variety of parts for manufacturers in the aviation industry. Those parts include fasteners, straps, wires, cables and electronic components.
While most of its work is with aerospace and defense contractors, it also works with businesses in the rail and marine industries.
Aircraft and Commercial Enterprises doesn’t make parts, but serves as the agent between part manufacturers and the end user.
The company expanded under a unique arrangement with the city.
Instead of an incentive, such as abatements or industrial revenue bonds, city officials offered to sell the land to the company for $1 instead of other incentives. Helmer said he was pleased with the deal.
“They made it easy,” he said.
Staying in Derby was a major part of the project as most of the employees either live in Derby or nearby and didn’t like the thought of driving up to Wichita, he said.
The company has about 35 employees; some work off-site in sales. Helmer is looking at hiring three more this year.
Helmer has no plans to retire soon from the family-owned business, and says it may expand again in the future. Thus, he is glad it has room to expand – if needed. The building is designed so that can easily be done and there’s enough land around it, too.
Figuring out how to grow the business and increase sales is something Helmer and his staff are embracing.
“We like challenges,” he said.