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Liebherr Aerospace Expands in Saline

With the company owning 54 acres adjacent to its plant, the latest expansion may not be the last.

Liebherr-Aerospace Saline celebrated the grand opening of its 33,000-square-foot expansion with music, food and tours at its customer service center Thursday.

Liebherr-Aerospace maintains air management systems, flight control/actuation systems as well as landing gear systems for airframe manufacturers such as Airbus, AgustaWestland, ATR, Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer, Eurocopter and Gulfstream.

The celebration was attended by members of the Liebherr family, international aerospace customers, city and federal government officials, and members of the local business community.

Philipp Liebherr, a member of the family which owns Liebherr Group, said the global company continues to operate with the principles of a family business.

“All of our activities are oriented toward stability and dependability,” Liebherr said.

Liebherr said the Saline expansion was a signal of commitment to its American customers and to the city of Saline.

“We are permanently strengthening our customer service organization to ensure customer proximity and long-term partnerships,” Liebherr said.  “On the other hand its also a commitment to Saline, while we celebrate the second expansion of our aerospace division within only six years.”

The facility now boasts 100,000 square-feet of workshops, warehouse and offices.

The latest expansion is the fourth in the history of the Saline operation, which began with a single employee in 1989, and second expansion in six years. The plant doubled in size to 67,000 square-feet in 2006.

The expansion will allow the company to meet increasing demand for landing gear servicing from 2013 and 2014 and beyond, according to the company.

Mayor Gretchen Driskell said it was an exciting day for Saline.

“The city greatly appreciates that Liebherr continues to choose to expand in our community,” Driskell said. “We know that there is a very competitive environment for locating businesses and we pledge to continue to work with Liebherr to do our best to be the most competitive location.”

The expansion may just be the start. In 2008, the company acquired 54 acres of land adjacent to the Saline facility. Alex Vlielander, President of Liebherr Aerospace in Saline, said he could envision expanded and creating a campus environment in Saline. Driskell said the city has high hopes, as well.

“We hope, someday, additional Liebherr business will be located there,” Driskell said.

Driskell said the Liebherr’s contribution goes beyond tax revenue, jobs and brick and mortar. She said Liebherr employees have made great contributions to the community, serving on civic boards and supporting community initiatives.

As a result of Liebherr’s contributions to the community, the City of Saline developed a sister city relationship with Lindenberg, Germany, home to Liebherr-Aerospace.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, said Liebherr’s expansion was important for Michigan.

“Manufacturing, something that Michigan is known for, must continue. I reject statements made in recent years by some politicians that America and Michigan need to ‘get over it,’ and that manufacturing is dead here,” Walberg said. “I don’t agree. And I am glad Liebherr does not agree.”

In 2011, the Saline operation generated revenues of more than $70 million, processed more than 12,000 repairs and delivered almost 8,500 sales orders.

Here is a timeline of the milestones at Liebherr-Aerospace in Saline.

  • 1989 — Start of aerospace activities in Saline with a field service/technical representative in support of Airbus A320 operators.
  • 1991 — Approval of FAA repair station accreditation was obtained.
  • 1992 — First repair of a Eurocopter BK-117 is completed by Brian Moneymaker. There were 5 people on staff in the 19,000 square foot facility.
  • 1994 — Start of operation for pneumatics capabilities.
  • 1996 — Start of electronic repair capabilities.
  • 2000 — Start of landing gear repair.
  • 2000 — The 10,000th repair is completed by Jeff Mauck on an Airbus A320. At this time there are 48 members of staff working in a 67,000 square-foot facility.
  • 2003 — Star of vapor cycle repair.
  • 2006 — The facility size doubles to 67,000 square feet.
  • 2007 — AS 9110 certification.
  • 2007 — The 50,000th repair is completed by Tom Tluczek on an Airbus A320. At this time there are 127 employees on staff in the 100,000-square-foot facility.
  • 2009 — Start of Light Utility Helicopter assembly line.
  • 2011 — Ground is broken on a 33,000-square-foot expansion.
  • 2012 — The 100,000th repair is completed by Petru Cucuiet on a Bombardier CRJ-900. At this time there are 140 employees on staff in the 133,000-square-foot facility.

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