Ready for takeoff

Published 12:32 am Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vector Aerospace is already outgrowing its new 38,000 square-foot facility in the South Alabama Regional Airport industrial park, the company’s CEO announced at grand opening ceremonies attended by Gov. Bob Riley, members of Vector’s international team and local government and economic development officials.

Declan O’Shea, CEO of the of the Toronto-based corporation, said he was “bowled over” by the warm welcome he and other company officials have received in Alabama, where 100 of the company’s 2,359 employees work.

He said the company will do $17 million in business in Alabama this year; $23 million next year; “and the year after that, we’ll move into another new facility.”

Formerly known locally as Acrohelipro, Vector was rebranded in 2008, O’Shea said. In addition to Acrohelipro, Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services includes the companies of Atlantic Turbines International and Sigma Aerospace, and recently acquired two new facilities in the United Kingdom.

“We want to be known around the world for our safety and quality,” O’Shea said.

Riley said Vector is one of more than 300 aviation aerospace companies currently operating in Alabama.

“This adds to the diversity so vitally important in the economy today,” he said. “Our economic model is considered the best in the nation.”

That’s a huge change from the climate when he became governor, he said.

“All across the world, people are hearing about the workers we have in Alabama. They are coming here to see what we have to offer.”

Riley said Alabama workers are “loyal as a bulldog,” have a strong belief in hard work and work together as a team.

“Today, Alabama is becoming the state other states want to be like,” he said.

The governor also said that economic development is an important role for government, adding that the best thing government can do is to “stay out of the way” and let businesses grow.

Alan Fletcher, vice president of operations at the local Vector facility, also praised Alabama employees.

“It is because of their endeavors and hard work that we could build this new facility we celebrate today,” he said.

Other platform guests included House Speaker Seth Hammett (D-Andalusia), State Sen. Jimmy Holley (R-Elba), area mayors, Airport Authority members and Vector corporate officials.

The company celebrated the grand opening with a buffet lunch for all employees and guests.