Q & A with Billy Lane
How many years have you been in manufacturing?
I have been at MT for 10 years. I started by just putting screws in a bag (kitting), and now I am second shift lead in the Composites Department's clean room, where composite materials are processed.
What jobs have you performed at MT over the years?
I have worked in just about every area at MT. I started out in the Kitting Department, but I also spent time welding and have run many of the machines. I have operated the saws, CNC machines and the waterjet cutter. I have been in the Composites Department for the last three years, since its inception.
Tell me about the Clean Room and what you do in there.
The Clean Room is where we cut and kit composite materials for use in building the Honda Jet for GKN Aerospace. For safety and compliance, we are required to wear necessary PPE such as a lab coat, hair net, gloves and if necessary a face net for anyone with a beard. It is critically important that we keep the Clean Room free of dust, hair or foreign debris.
What is a common misnomer of working in the Clean Room?
From the outside, people think it's an easy job. However, we know that our efforts keep the Honda Jet passengers and general public safe. We understand that a wrong cut or even something as simple as a hair getting into the product could result in a defective product. Our compliance standards require that we have to adhere to the proper safety measures at all times because we know that lives are on the line. We take that responsibility very seriously.
What is your favorite part of working in composites?
I enjoy building things. We cut and kit the composite material for the Honda Jet Program and specifically the fuselage. In the past, the team had the opportunity to travel to Tallassee to see where the Honda Jet is manufactured. That trip allowed us to be able to see the finished product, and that was powerful because we got to see where our work efforts culminate. I also get an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when we meet our goals and complete the project and get it to the customer on time.
How did you find out about Muskogee Technology?
I was sold on the company when I was 15 years old. I was involved in the summer youth program at Poarch. We did a tour of Muskogee Metalworks (MT's original business name) when it was located on Highway 21. Mal McGhee performed the tour and from the way he spoke about the company's manufacturing efforts, I knew that day that I wanted to be a part of it. Fast forward 20 years; now I am the 2nd shift lead in the Composites Department at MT. I take great pride in what we do here. It is satisfying to know that I am of service to the Tribe and my efforts in some part have helped in growing MT over the years. I love coming to work; there is just something about this place that makes me want to get up and come to work each day.
By Jen Chism CIEDA Marketing Manager
Welding is the process of joining metals by extreme heat. Its history can be traced back 2,000 years ago, the earliest being a Bronze Age example of small circular gold boxes made by pressure welding lap joints together. Today, welding is used extensively in light to heavy fabrication processes such as seen at Muskogee Technology (MT). There are many types of welding including SMAW, GTAW, FCAW, and GMAW. Gas Metal Arc Welding commonly referred to as “MIG”, and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding commonly referred to as “TIG”, are utilized daily in Muskogee Technology operations. This process is commonly used in MT’s light and heavy fabrication departments for products in industries such as wind energy, oil and gas, and shipbuilding. MIG welding is most suitable for fusing mild steel or common ferrous metals.
Another common process used at MT is TIG welding or Tungsten Arc Welding which requires a higher level of expertise from the operator. TIG welding is most commonly used for carrying out work where a superior standard of finish is desired without needing to use clean up processes like sanding or grinding with nonferrous metals.
Stick or ARC welding is the most basic of all welding types. It is best suited for heavy metal size four millimeters and upwards and applicable in all weld positions. Welding is a highly specialized area of expertise. At MT, welders fall into a classification scale that spans from a general Welder I up to Welder IV, the highest level of welding experience. Thomas Ardis works at MT North as a level IV welder with over 20 plus years of experience. He is currently the Shift Lead. He has been working with MT since 2002. When asked about what changes have been seen in the industry over the past few years, Thomas stated Muskogee Technology’s growth and expansion have better positioned the company to more effectively compete and to produce higher quality products.
Regarding what he likes best about welding, Thomas likes “getting under the hood,” and enjoys the solitude of welding. Welding represents a large portion of the manufacturing work done at Muskogee Technology, which is why dedicated welders are so important to the success and continued development of the organization.
By Jen Chism CIEDA Marketing Manager
CNC machining is a manufacturing process in which pre-programmed computer software dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery. CNC stands for "computer numerical control" and is the process by which Muskogee Technology (MT) fabricates many of its parts for customers in an array of industries.
CNC machine programs typically fall into two categories: CAM technology (CNC programming with use of CAM software) and conversational technology (CNC programming at the machine without use of CAD/CAM software). At MT's machines are capable of both technologies. Included in their arsenal of machinery you will find water jet, plasma and torch cutters, as well as lathes, milling, bending and forming machines.
To the onlooker, a CNC system might resemble a regular set of computer components, but the software programs and consoles employed in CNC machining distinguish it from all other forms of computation. The dimensions for a given part are set into place with computer-aided design (CAD) software and then converted into an actual finished product with computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. CNC machining rapidly advances shop productivity by automating the highly technical and labor intensive processes. Additionally automated cuts dramatically improve both the speed and the accuracy of the parts being created.
RedStone Arsenal Ribbon Cutting
In January 2016, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians donated $1,000,000 to help relocate Gate 9 at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. The security access gate needed to be moved three quarters of a mile to alleviate traffic jams and improve unsafe driving conditions caused by the more than twenty thousand people using the gate daily.
Redstone Arsenal sits close to both PCI Aviation, a tribally-owned 8A company that provides services to the defense industry, and Townplace Suites at Redstone, a Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority (CIEDA) investment property.
On August 16th, an official ribbon cutting was held for the relocated Gate 9 at Redstone. In attendance was Governor Kay Ivey, many high-level state and local government and defense representatives, and a delegation from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Attending on behalf of the Tribe were Tribal Council Members Robert McGhee, Eddie L. Tullis, Dewitt Carter and Keith Martin. Also in attendance were James T. Martin, President/CEO, CIEDA; Mal McGhee, President, PCI Aviation; Westley L. Woodruff, President/CEO, Muskogee Technology and Billy Hunt, President, PCI Support Services.
"We are proud to have been part of a project that will benefit the State, especially the people in Madison County that moved and widened Gate 9 for travelers to have better access to the Army base. It was great to be at this event and to see the finished project, which will serve so many people," stated Robert McGhee, Vice Chair, Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
"We are pleased to have expanded the Tribe’s interest in Huntsville and the surrounding area and look forward to future opportunities," said CIEDA President/CEO James T. Martin.
"The exposure that the Tribe has gained from these types of partnerships has aided in the marketing of PCI Aviation. Everyone in the Huntsville area is quickly learning about the Poarch Creek Indians and their mission," stated Mal McGhee.
"This was a first-rate event and the result of many partnerships coming together. It is exciting to see the broadening of the Tribe’s endeavors around the State," said Billy Hunt.
Governor Ivey was among the speakers at the invitation only ribbon cutting. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians was recognized and thanked for their commitment to the effort to move Gate 9, and a monument is soon to be erected signifying the support Redstone Arsenal received from the Tribe. This event was just one stop on Governor Ivey’s Listen, Learn, Help and Lead Tour, where she is working to learn the needs of the community and its businesses by visiting citizens in their respective environments.
After the ribbon cutting ceremonies, Muskogee Technology President/CEO Westly L. Woodruff, CPP was among those who toured the facilities at Science and Engineering Services (SES). "Muskogee Technology is enthusiastically pursuing opportunities to advance relationships with industry leading defense manufacturing companies, and it is always beneficial to see the operations of a dynamic defense contractor like SES," stated Woodruff.
Muskogee Technology's New President/CEO
Sometimes to take an award winning team like Muskogee Technology to the next level you have to change the quarterback, and that's exactly what they did when they brought on Westly L. Woodruff as their new President/CEO.
"We are confident that his many years of manufacturing experience will prove an asset to Muskogee Technology's continued success," said James T. Martin, CIEDA President/CEO.
This is the second time Woodruff has worked for Muskogee Technology. He worked as a welder over 21 years ago when the company was called Muskogee Metalworks.
"I think we had about nine employees back then, and Westinghouse in Pensacola was our primary customer," said Woodruff. "It's truly a pleasure to return to CIEDA and pursue business opportunities for the advancement of Muskogee Technology. What we do here is great and I am confident that through teamwork we can develop Muskogee Technology into a world-class manufacturing facility and industry leader in minority supplies."
Woodruff has an extensive background working in manufacturing, having worked ten years at Huhtamaki Retail Business Unit Chinet Division and five years in the steel fabrication and manufacturing industry before returning home to work for the Tribe. He is no stranger to facilitating and developing cohesive and highly functioning teams.
He has previously served as the Procurement Officer, managing all facilities and internal construction needs for CIEDA operations. Most recently Woodruff served as the Facilities Division Director at Tribal Government, overseeing the departments of Facilities, Natural Resources, and Public Works.
2016 Boeing Excellence Award
Muskogee Technology has received the 2016 Boeing Silver Award. The Boeing Co. issues the award annually to recognize suppliers who have achieved superior performance. Muskogee Technology maintained a Silver composite performance rating for each month of the 12-month performance period, from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016. The awards are presented to companies the following year.
"Based on this outstanding achievement, Muskogee Technology also has earned recognition as a Boeing Performance Excellence Award recipient," a spokesman for Boeing said.
This year, Boeing recognized 480 suppliers who achieved either a Gold or Silver level Boeing Performance Excellence Award. Muskogee Technology is one of only 402 suppliers to receive the Silver level of recognition.
Muskogee Technology is owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority overseas the day-to-day operations of the Tribe's diversified portfolio.
"We are honored to once again be recognized by Boeing, and we are dedicated to providing quality service to each of our clients," Muskogee Technology President and CEO Westly L. Woodruff said.
Anthony Hall Profile
The latter is how it feels to Anthony Hall at Muskogee Technology (MT). Hall, the spouse of a Tribal Member, is a composite machine operator at MT and has just celebrated his 20th year working for the Tribe at the manufacturing plant. Muskogee Technology Plant Manager Jeff Nelson and Composite Supervisor Phillip Hughey honored Hall with a lunch celebration at David’s Catfish and presented him with a crystal award for his service of 20 years. Hall also was given time off with pay.
And to hear him talk about his time there, you would think the past two decades were a breeze — but he credits that to the fact that working locally allowed him to be with his family and watch his children grow up and to help mold their lives.
“I am so thankful for the opportunity to work for this company, but especially glad that, because of this job, I was able to be home with my wife, Rita, and I have been able to watch my son, Dustin, and daughter, Breanna, grow up.
“I was doing shift work at the time when I was hired on at Muskogee Technology (then Muskogee Metal Works),” Hall said. “I was gone a lot before, working offshore two weeks away and having only one week home. It takes a toll on you and the family. Plus, you just miss a lot of memories when you’re gone all the time.” Hall’s daughter, Breanna, is now the 2015-2016 Tribal Senior Princess.
Hall said when he applied for the job, he expected to only be employed there for two or three years then move on to something else. Little did he know, that two or three years would turn into 20. Since his original hire, Hall has held a few different positions at Muskogee Technology — Forman, Welder, Stamp Press Operator, Electronics Inspector, Painter, Machine Operator and now Composite Machine Operator.
“When people ask me ‘How did you stay there for 20 years?’, my answer is: ‘When you know you are where you are supposed to be, then that’s all that matters.’”
Hall said his advice to Tribal Members and anyone seeking a place in the world is this: “If you don’t like your job, pray and find one you do like. It will make your life and your family’s life more enjoyable … and you won’t look back.”
Understanding Wind Energy
Power generated from wind is not a new concept. Humans have been harnessing wind power for centuries, and wind energy is a viable option for generating electricity that can be harnessed by businesses and homes.
The National Resource Defense Council asserts that wind power is an affordable, efficient and abundant source of domestic electricity. Because it does not produce pollution, wind power also is beneficial for the environment. The United States Department of Energy says the United States is home to one of the largest and fastest-growing wind markets in the world, and the department has made wind industry a critical part of their plan for clean energy technologies.
What’s exciting is Muskogee Technology (MT) is capitalizing on this industry and is involved with General Electric and Siemens to produce parts needed to transport, lift and install wind turbines.
How does wind energy work?
Today’s wind power is harnessed through wind turbines instead of smaller windmills. The turbines are mounted 100 feet or more above the ground on towers and can work with the faster, less turbulent winds at this height. The blades on a wind turbine act like an airplane wing. When the wind blows, low-pressure air forms on the downwind side of the blade. This low pressure pocket pulls the blade toward it, causing the rotor to turn, called lift. The force of the lift is actually much stronger than the wind’s force against the front side of the blade, which is called drag. As the rotor continues to spin, it also spins a generator to produce electricity. Turbines may be connected to a power grid to power larger areas or be stand-alone units for personal use.
Muskogee Technology recently manufactured transport frames for blades and towers. The elephant feet MT produced is used to mount the blades to the hubs in aid to erect them in the field. Muskogee Technology also is produced a prototype tip rotator stand, which will aid in flipping the blades in the field, as well as manufacturing adapter plates for different styles of blades for transport.
Powering your home
Consumers who want to try wind power can have small wind turbines installed. This enables them to generate their own power and cut energy bills. Depending on where you live and the regulations in place, a wind turbine can be suitable for use on a property of one acre of land or more.Homeowners should find out if local zoning allows for wind turbine installations.
If installing a wind turbine on your own is not practical, consult with electric energy providers to find out if any programs are in place to offset energy production by working with wind plants. Green programs are in effect all over the country. Wind power can be a clean and renewable way to power your home.
After take off comes the landing. But for Muskogee Technology (MT), the company continues to fly high with business. In July, representatives from MT, Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority (CIEDA) and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians traveled to London to attend the Farnborough International Airshow.
The airshow is a chance for companies, such as Muskogee Technology, to meet with industry leaders, establish new business relationships and strengthen existing ones. Visitors to this year’s airshow were provided opportunities to learn more about the future of aviation, source new suppliers, evaluate competitors, experience live demonstrations and discover upcoming innovations.
This year, the airshow saw huge deals come together and closed out with $123.9 billion in orders. That exceeded the organizer’s expectations.
“It is a tremendous blessing for us to be able to attend this event and others like it,” CIEDA President and CEO James T. Martin said. “Building relationships that will last is crucial to not only our business but the aerospace and defense industries as a whole.”
What we accomplished
PCI representatives met with other Alabama delegation representatives at the Alabama trade show booth and visited a handful of booths from other states, as well as numerous aerospace companies that had booths on display.
CIEDA Director of Marketing Mal McGhee was invited by SES, an Aerospace company from Huntsville, to sit in on a meeting with Gov. Robert Bentley and a general of the Kuwaiti Air Force. He also met with Honeycomb Aircraft Repair Center’s top representatives Ken Arnold, Steve Walker and Bill Bryson and with GKN Aerospace Vice President Daniele Cagnatel.
Perhaps some of the biggest discussions came from PCI representatives meeting with Airbus and Thales Group officials. Airbus scored big at Farnborough again this year and with a facility now in Mobile, this could pave the way for Muskogee Technology to gain some extra business as well.
“In talking with Gene Young, who is Airbus’ senior director of governmental programs, we could be in a position to do inventory management with them,” McGhee said. “We want to capitalize on new opportunities quickly.” McGhee said partnerships with Airbus were discussed and follow-up meetings were set.
The Thales Group is a French multinational company that designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defense, transportation and security markets. McGhee said PCI representatives discussed partnerships and subcontracting work for Muskogee Technology to have with Thales.
About the airshow
Farnborough saw 98 military delegations attending from 66 countries and 29 commercial and civil delegations attending from 22 countries. Alabama, in general, had a strong showing of delegates, with 120 who attended the airshow. Farnborough officials said 73,000 visitors were present this year.
The Meet-the-Buyer program encountered 1,680 meetings between 40 buyers and 200 suppliers during the three-day event. This allowed companies of all sizes to form new business relationships with international companies.
Although the trade show is open to industry officials, the general public can come out and see static displays and flight demonstrations. To open the airshow, the F35 Joint Strike Fighter performed a flyover to the awe of visitors. And on the third day, a Boeing 737 MAX plane performed a zero-gravity vertical takeoff and free-fall stunt, with onlookers gasping in awe at the demonstration.
Farnborough International Airshow takes place every other year, alternating with the Paris Airshow, which MT attended last year.
The history of Muskogee Technology
Ever see the TV show “How it’s Made”? The documentary-style show takes you through the process of how everyday items, and some unique ones, are manufactured. That is kind of how each day plays out at Muskogee Technology (MT) in Atmore.
And now you will learn just “how MT was made.” This is part one of a two-part series on the history of Muskogee Technology.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Once the Tribe regained federal recognition, it began to look at ways to further prosper as a Tribe and give back to its neighbors in Alabama. From 1984 to 1988, the Tribe started considering economic development.
In 1988, the Tribe bought a metal stamping company, Strader Manufacturing in Milton, Fla., gaining 51 percent of the company. Once established, the Tribe created Creek Indian Enterprises (CIE) to oversee diversification for the Tribe. When CIE began to focus on economic development, it added “Development Authority” to its name, and thus became CIEDA.
Strader Manufacturing became a subsidiary of CIEDA in 1989, but maintained complete autonomy. It was then that the Tribe realized how much potential the Milton company had and bought out the remaining investors, assuming 100 percent ownership.
Today, CIEDA manages seven different enterprises owned by the Tribe.
“The reason we decided to pursue economic development was to offer our people job opportunities, local places to work, creating prosperity within our Tribal community and give back to the community as a whole,” CIEDA President and CEO James T. Martin said.
GAINING MOMENTUM INTO THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY
Throughout the early 1990s, Strader Manufacturing continued to learn and grow in the aerospace industry. With the growth came a name change to Muskogee Metalworks. In 1992, Tribal Member Mal McGhee, who had been on the Strader board of directors, became the first employee and general manager at the new Muskogee Metalworks.
After initial adjustments and hard work, CIE decided in April 1993 to move the company to Atmore so they could employ more of their people. And through all the growth and learning curves, Muskogee Metalworks added capabilities and rebranded into present-day Muskogee Technology, which employs about 70 full-time workers.
McGhee totally transformed the company once it moved, gradually adding services, such as woodworking, assembly, kitting, metal fabrication, aircraft sheetmetal and much more. These processes led to the company obtaining additional government and defense contracts.
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., became Muskogee Metalworks’ biggest contracting customer in the mid- to late ’90s. That relationship and others guided the company to become diversified in its ability to manage various projects and services and produce quality products.
“Muskogee Technology’s biggest strengths are diversification quality work,” McGhee said.
PERSEVERANCE AND DIVERSITY
McGhee knew Muskogee Metalworks was special and that growth was inevitable with each new contract the company took on. He sought out and researched numerous available minority business development programs in an effort to attract even larger companies.
Because Muskogee Metalworks is owned by a federally recognized Indian Tribe, it is classified as a minority-owned business as well as a small, disadvantaged business and is eligible for many programs.
However, some of Muskogee Metalworks’ biggest contracts have come through using assistance programs, such as the 8(a) program from the Small Business Administration in 1999. With 8(a), participants are guided step by step and learn how to operate a successful business and gain a foothold in government contracting.
Up until then, 90 percent of all Muskogee Metalworks’ capital investments were done from the Tribe’s cash flow, with no assistance from outside lenders.
“The Tribe’s financial backing enabled us to accomplish our goals quicker,” McGhee said.
BUILDING LASTING RELATIONSHIPS AND GROWTH
As they were building relationships through effective use of these programs, Muskogee Metalworks worked extensively with government contracts. Warner Robins AFB, Ga., contracted with Muskogee Metalworks to supply the U.S. Air Force with equipment it needed. In 2001, the company partnered with Manufacturing Technology Inc. (MTI) in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., to work on a $47 million government electrical contract. And upon seizing that opportunity, in 2002, Muskogee Metalworks was selected to participate in the 8(a) mentor-protégé program with MTI.
This is a big deal for minority companies. The mentor-protégé program is a nine-year program that instills procedures and manufacturing processes to match the mentor company’s specific needs, enhance capabilities and enable the protégé to compete for larger, more complex prime contract and subcontract awards.
Through commitment and hard work, Muskogee Metalworks won the prestigious Nunn/Perry Award, the highest honor given by the Department of Defense in the mentor protégé program.
After that accomplishment, Muskogee Metalworks then was taken under The Boeing Co.’s wing in the mentor-protégé program in 2006. They were taught Boeing’s specifications and produced everything Boeing asked for skillfully and quickly, often exceeding in early delivery of products.
Learning these traits facilitates growth. And grow they did.
With the guidance they received, Muskogee Metalworks developed from being a metal-stamping, low-volume company into a fully capable multi-product company.
Because the company was growing at a rapid pace, it needed extra space to accommodate the amount of work it had taken on. In April 2003, Muskogee Metalworks moved into a new facility in Atmore, taking ownership of the building that once was a Vanity Fair manufacturing plant.
“That was definitely a goal we had — to bring more jobs to the Tribe and to Southwest Alabama as a whole,” McGhee said. “This was possible because of our dedicated employees. They deserve all the credit for making this company what it is today.”
Look for part 2 of Muskogee Technology’s history next month.
Muskogee Technology achieves Supplier Excellence Award
Muskogee Technology (MT) was awarded the Silver Boeing Performance Excellence Award for 2015 at the Supplier of the Year/Global Supplier Conference in Seattle. This is the fourth year in a row Muskogee Technology has won either the gold or silver recognition from The Boeing Co.
"We are so proud that Muskogee Technology has been honored with this award from Boeing again this year," Tribal Chair/CEO Stephanie Bryan said. "This award is a direct reflection of all the hard work and dedication of everyone who works on a daily basis at MT to make it such a success."
MT also was nominated for the Supplier of the Year award by the buyers with which MT has relationships and consistently does business. These buyers presented examples of Muskogee Technology going above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done and how MT was able to swiftly adapt to changes in product orders and deadlines.
The conference pays tribute to the great alliance between Boeing and its global supply chain partners — as Boeing stated it, "You are the best of the best." Muskogee Technology remains committed to performance excellence and it shows.
"It was my pleasure to be there and receive this excellence award on behalf of Muskogee Technology," MT's Director of Marketing Mal McGhee said. "We are honored to be part of an elite supply chain group for Boeing and we look to continue strengthening our partnership with them for years to come."
Out of the more than 13,000 Boeing certified suppliers in 47 countries, less than 400 suppliers were invited to the conference. Of the companies attending, 75 were from outside the U.S. and present to network. That makes it even more special for Muskogee Technology to be invited and honored with a fourth excellence award for workmanship.
"Not only was Muskogee Technology among such a small number of companies to be invited, MT represented the Small Disadvantaged Business group as well. There were only a handful of minority companies that made the cut," McGhee said. "That goes a long way in gaining other contracts with other companies down the road. To be able to leverage our success for more opportunities means we are on the right track to continued success with companies such as Boeing things. I am extremely proud of our team here at Muskogee Technology. And I am happy for what it means for the future of our Tribe."
McGhee met with the top representatives of Boeing during the conference, including Kent Fisher, who is the vice president of supplier management for Boeing's commercial airplanes.
Boeing is in its centennial year, and the conference focused on the company's history and its future. The event featured Boeing's CEO as the keynote speaker and had hands-on exhibits showcasing the vast areas in which Boeing is involved and the possibilities that lie ahead.
Developing Relationships: Muskogee Technology gets opportunity to present to NASA contractors
MT already has built parts for the International Space Station in the past. Through this match-making conference, another opportunity was presented for Muskogee Technology. McGhee was invited to do a presentation for NASA and its top contractors, which include The Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton and many others.
"After attending this conference, we were invited by the Marshall Space Flight Center and Space Launch System to showcase our capabilities and what we have accomplished and can accomplish in the future if given the opportunity," McGhee said.
In 2008, Muskogee Technology secured a contract with Boeing and provided them with several parts to be installed on the International Space Station. Some parts included window hatch covers, fan seal flanges and ducts and are still in use in space today.
"The International Space Station was getting upgrades, and we were excited and honored to be able to supply Boeing with the parts it needed. It was a quick turnaround, and we made it happen," he said.
After McGhee presented to NASA’s contractors in Huntsville, he is working to gain additional contracts for Muskogee Technology.
"This is the next step in getting more high-profile contracts and keeping Muskogee Technology in the aerospace industry for years to come," he said.
McGhee highlighted the efforts it took to get an exclusive partnership with GKN Aerospace in 2014. He said it took almost two years and started with just a meeting, then a proposal to do supply management.
"MT has the capabilities NASA is looking for, and we can develop a new niche of capabilities per the needs of the customers."
The Power of Partnerships
When it comes to power and energy, Alabama Power Co. knows a thing or two about the subject. So when the opportunity to tour a major manufacturing facility in Atmore came up, the leadership of Alabama Power jumped at the chance.
Representatives from Alabama Power recently got a first-hand experience to see what goes on at Muskogee Technology (MT).
"Alabama Power has worked with Muskogee Technology in the past and currently to supply equipment as needed at our Plant Berry Generating Facility in Bucks, Ala.," local Alabama Power Manager Ricky Martin said.
"By meeting with Muskogee Tech officials, we were able to get a better grasp on what they are working on now and what they are pursuing in the future. With that understanding, we would be able to assist them on a regional, state or global stage when the opportunity presents itself."
The group began the day with a presentation by MT Marketing Director Mal McGhee. McGhee presented PowerPoint slides and discussed in detail the various things MT does day in and day out, as well as what they have accomplished in the past and what they seek to do in the near future.
"Our goal was to meet with Muskogee Tech officials to discuss our strengths in economic development and our global business efforts. We wanted to offer our partnership when appropriate with MT and other Creek Indian endeavors," Martin said.
"We work with Muskogee Technology to meet their power requirements in the most affordable, efficient and effective manner," he said. "We will continue to look for opportunities to serve MT as they look to expand and venture into new areas as well."
Muskogee Tech Meets With Big Companies at Expo
Gateway draws hundreds of minority businesses from across the country for the annual two-day event, which provides venues for discussion, training, matchmaking, awards and business exhibition. MT has been a member of the SRMSDC for more than 20 years. This has led to MT achieving relationships with large suppliers throughout the nation.
Premiere sponsors included Northrop Grumman, Chevron, BP, Toyota, Nissan, Shell, ExxonMobil, Entergy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of LA, U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, Worldwide Label & Packaging, ARD Logistics, Jackson Offshore Operators, APC Construction and many more.
The conference gives minority-owned businesses a chance to connect with large corporations in an effort to facilitate more partnerships and contracts.
"Being a part of the SRMSDC gives us so many opportunities to work with some of the most prestigious companies out there," Director of Marketing for MT, Mal McGhee, said. "We are honored to be part of this wonderful opportunity to be good neighbors in our state and our country."
Muskogee Technology met with several companies, including Shell/Motiva, BP, Alabama Power, Mississippi Power, GIS Oilfield Contractors, Motion Industries Inc. and Tyonek Manufacturing Group Inc.
McGhee said the training sessions were proactive and touched on topics such as how to improve in a changing economy, how to be a proactive marketer and how to use different perspectives in the supplier industry to enhance opportunities with corporations.
Soaring to New Heights:
Muskogee Technology Flies High at Paris Air Show
Building off the momentum from last year's Farmbourgh Airshow in England, were Muskogee Technology (MT) received the Lean and Innovation Award from GKN Aerospace, MT jetted into action at the 2015 Paris Air Show on June 12-19.
This year, Poarch Band of Creek Indians was a show of force at the air show with Tribal Chair Stephanie A. Bryan, CIEDA President/CEO James T. Martin, Greg Rawls and Mal McGhee attending the event.
"I am honored to have attended the 51st International Paris Air Show, which gave the Tribe a venue in the international business community," Bryan said.
"On behalf of the Tribe, I thank Congressman (Bradley) Byrne who invited me to the event and jointly attended meetings with me to obtain contracts and work for the Tribe and the state. If secured, these contracts will create valuable job opportunities for the people of Alabama. In addition to job creation, the Tribe is diligent in its pursuit of diversifying its business interests.
"I'm pleased to report that, as a result of the contacts made at the Paris Air Show, the Tribe has received numerous invites to be listed on procurement lists. We are hopeful that these endeavors will help us garner contracts, which in turn will create revenue for the Tribe and continue to diversify our portfolio of businesses outside of gaming," Bryan said.
The MT team was a part of the large delegation from Alabama, which included political representatives, economic and industrial development groups, power companies, educational institutions and other businesses wanting to bring aerospace industries to Alabama.
The Paris Air Show is the world's largest business expo. About 120 delegates from Alabama made the trip this year.
Alabama was one of more than 2,303 exhibitors from 48 countries. This year's show was attended by 201,637 from the general public, 149,947 aerospace professionals and 296 delegations from 91 countries.
The highlight of the trip was an invitation from GKN Aerospace North America, President Daniele Cagnatel, to the MT team to have lunch and meet in the company's private chalet. Cagnatel expressed his appreciation of Muskogee Technology's exceeding expectations and continued commitment.
"A world of opportunities lie ahead stemming from this partnership," said Mal McGhee, the company’s marketing director.
Additional opportunities are arising with Airbus Group. The MT team met both with Airbus Commercial as well as Airbus Military Division.
"We're only 45 minutes from the new Airbus facilities in Mobile, Ala., and we've already started building relationships, especially with their military division," McGhee said.
"Building these kind of relationships is time consuming and hard work but critical when securing contracts with such influential companies," McGhee said.
Rep. Byrne also acknowledged MT's efforts.
"I appreciated the opportunity to accompany the team from Muskogee Technology to some of their meetings at the Paris Air Show," Rep. Byrne said. "Muskogee is a wonderful success story of a homegrown business that has really seen their operations expand as a result of Alabama's rise in the aviation sector. They are starting to get more involved with making parts and composites for the aviation industry, and they were really making a name for themselves at the air show."
Poarch Creeks Showcased at White House Rural Development Conference
The seminar was hosted by the White House Rural Council with the support of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Mexico's Secretariat for Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development.
Out of the 12 tribes that were invited, only two tribes were asked to speak at the conference — the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and the Mississippi Band of Choctaws. Representing PBCI was Muskogee Technology's Director of Marketing, Mal McGhee.
McGhee showcased how the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has utilized governmental programs to spring board growth and sustainability, allowing them to enter into many diverse economic businesses. McGhee was the only representative who was asked to speak twice at the event. Each time, McGhee was surrounded by attendees who wanted to know more about how the tribe and its enterprises operate.
"I was very honored and proud to attend on behalf of the tribe," McGhee said. "My background and experience of being in past leadership roles, and now working in a business development role, allowed me to present our tribe's growth and tell our story.
"We are a true success story. We are proud to be a part of Southwest Alabama, working with multiple organizations to help our community be a better place," he said. "This conference brought a lot of exposure to our tribe and as a result, afforded us an opportunity to discuss the tribe's successful rural development."
Leading policy officials and international experts from all over the world, as well as from the private sector attended the conference to discuss of the best practices for rural areas.
"I believe that indigenous people everywhere have abundant opportunities to secure prosperity through self-determination and, in doing so, should honor their rich culture and traditions, enhance the excellence of their governing institutions and celebrate the well-being of their children," said Patrice Kunesh, Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development. "The Poarch Band's participation in the RD - OECD Conference provided valuable insight into the depth of this essential self-determination work."
Also attending the conference was Alabama's State Director of Rural Development, Ronald Davis.
"It is encouraging to see PCBI partner with USDA to promote community and economic development in Escambia County," Davis said. "PCBI's participation in the OECD conference demonstrated their willingness to share best practices which reflected their ability to develop successful partnerships inside and outside tribal communities. I consider them to be a strong economic motivator within the state of Alabama."
There is Something in the Wind
In the past few months, MT has been working on a contract for General Electric Co. (GE). This contract produces transportation parts for wind turbine blades that also double as erection frames to attach the blades to the turbines on the wind farms. A contract with Siemens also is in the works.
"Wind energy is going to be really big for us this year," MT Sales Engineer John Schierer said. "Not only with GE but with Siemens as well. I'm getting orders left and right for lifting and transport equipment for Siemens. They just came out with a new offshore blade and will need the hub equipment for those."
Schierer said the parts MT supplies for Siemens are mainly truck and train transports for blades.
"We recently finished an order for Siemens for the e-foot, or elephant foot, that is the base connector for the transport. We just received word that we will be making two more full sets of those, so that’s a big deal," he said.
The equipment Muskogee Tech is manufacturing for GE are root stands and tip stands.
"A root stand bolts to the flange of a wind turbine blade, and a tip bolts onto the blade at the opposite end of the root stand," Production Supervisor Scott Randle said. "The tip stand is contoured to the curvature of the blade and is cushioned to protect the blade during transport."
GE buys blades from composite companies in various parts of the U.S. and needs a way to transport them, Schierer said.
"GE supplies worldwide, so these fixtures will go overseas as well. We manufacture the parts for them and they then takes those parts to the composite companies for transport to GE wind farms." He said MT has made 258 sets (one root stand and one tip stand) for GE so far. There also is an order for 6,000 adapter plate sets (6 pieces per set).
"Muskogee Technology does more than just aerospace," Schierer said. "Capitalizing on the wind energy industry is huge and will mean a great deal for us this year and years to come."
Leadership Atmore tours Muskogee Technology
Leadership Atmore does just that. Sponsored by the Atmore Chamber of Commerce, the program exposes participants to issues and resources on the local and state levels.
"Our goal is to establish a strong leadership base so when young professionals get back into their particular area of business, they take the skills they learned in the program and become involved at work and make this a better place to live," said Susan Smith, Leadership Atmore Steering Committee Chair. "It's just that simple."
Recently, members of the current class took a tour of Muskogee Technology (MT). There, they learned about what the company does, how it bolsters the aerospace industry and how it stimulates the local economy by creating jobs.
Smith said the program consists of eight to nine sessions involving all aspects of industries in Atmore and the state. Participants learn about the history of Atmore and how the town was started. They also get hands-on learning experience in real-life business.
"It's a fantastic program," Smith said. "It has been going on for about 30 years, and we have had members who grew up here, some who just moved here and others who have been involved in the community for years."
With each new leadership class, discussions from the committee team on which businesses to feature often change up the direction the class takes.
Muskogee Technology was chosen because of its widespread growth in capabilities over the years. The recent freezer and cleanroom additions at MT allowed for further opportunity to showcase how the company has used its knowledge to its advantage. The leadership class was able to view a presentation about MT and tour the facilities, seeing firsthand how investing in learning cutting edge manufacturing process, such as composites, can catapult the industry and exponentially increase job opportunities.
"Leadership Atmore creates a professional network of individuals who form bonding friendships and business relationships and learn how to support each other as well," Smith said. Learning different business avenues and how they help sustain communities gives the program members insight to better their community.
But it's not just locally, she said.
"We have an upcoming trip to Montgomery to learn about law and government and how things are done," she said. "This program helps you learn about yourself, where you best fit with your talents and how you can make a difference not just locally, but across the state and the nation."
Composites: The essence of the aerospace industry
Have you ever wondered what goes in to making airplane parts, such as the fuselage (the body of the plane) or the wings or even the propellers? Thinking about such things can create a wow factor once you learn the ins and outs of a complex component.
But at Muskogee Technology (MT), manufacturing airplane parts using composites is just everyday business.
Composites are formed by combining materials together to form an overall structure that is sturdier than using individual components. However, each individual component remains separate within the material. For example, if one person tried to hold up a heavy beam in the air by himself, he probably wouldn’t last very long. But if 100 people stood next to the original holder, the combined strength of all 100 people would keep the beam in place, all the while each person was exerting his or her own individual strength.
One such individual material is carbon fiber, which is a super durable, strong yet lightweight plastic held together by fibers. Carbon fibers are typically used in aerospace, automotive and civil engineering products.
MT’s Director of Marketing, Mal McGhee, described the material as "a fabric-like material, kind of like vinyl. Before it’s molded, you can pull it apart and see all the single fibers that make up a sheet."
Now here's where it gets tricky: Carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers, such as rayon, are composite materials featuring a matrix and a reinforcer. The matrix consists of an epoxy to hold the reinforcement material (the carbon fiber) together to provide strength. This is the type of composite that Muskogee Technology works with the most frequently.
Many carbon fibers are backed with a single layer of fiberglass. After mixing the fiberglass with resin, the carbon fiber is ready to use. These are called pre-preg composites, because they have already been made. Pre-preg materials must be stored in a freezer at zero degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
Now the fabricating begins. MT takes the pre-preg composite and fits it into a mold for whatever a client is needing. In 2013, MT entered into a partnership with GKN Aerospace North America. This began with MT storing inventory for GKN and has morphed into creating fuselage kits for GKN airplanes. Once the composite is molded, it is then heated in an autoclave oven to harden. For smaller pieces, the molds are placed into bags and vacuum sealed.
Airbus, Boeing and GKN all use a majority percentage of composite materials in their aircraft, according to an online source.
"Back in February, we received our quality certification, allowing us to go into full production cutting composite materials," Accounting Manager Lou Roberts said.
Aerospace is increasingly turning to using composites and MT is ahead of the game. So the next time you step on an airplane, look around, touch the walls and think about what exactly is holding you up in the air. It just might have come from Muskogee Technology.
Muskogee Technology receives Boeing Silver Award
Muskogee Technology has recently learned it received the 2014 Boeing Silver Award. The Boeing Co. issues the award annually to recognize suppliers who have achieved superior performance. Muskogee Technology maintained a Silver composite performance rating for each month of the 12-month performance period, from Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014. The awards are presented to companies the following year.
"Based on this outstanding achievement, Muskogee Technology also has earned recognition as a Boeing Performance Excellence Award recipient," a spokesman for Boeing said.
This year, Boeing recognized 548 suppliers who achieved either a Gold or Silver level Boeing Performance Excellence Award. Muskogee Technology is one of only 429 suppliers to receive the Silver level of recognition.
Muskogee Technology is owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority overseas the day-to-day operations of the Tribe’s diversified portfolio.
"We are honored to once again be recognized by Boeing, and we are dedicated to providing quality service to each of our clients," CIEDA President and CEO James T. Martin said.