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Boeing deal will land more jobs in Springfield

Long-term contract for landing gear means stability for local company.

A company is poised to add jobs and provide job security for nearly 100 current Springfield employees after reaching a what it described as a landmark agreement with Boeing to produce landing gear into the next decade.

The agreement, which is expected to be signed before the end of this year, would be the largest contract ever awarded to HDI Landing Gear USA, a subsidiary of Heroux-Devtek, Inc, a Canadian aerospace manufacturer.

Officials from the company declined to disclose the financial details of the agreement until negotiations have been finalized. But Frederick Gagne, plant manager for HDI, said the agreement will help make the company a more significant player in the industry, while providing job security for the company’s 94 employees at 663 Montgomery Ave. in Springfield.

“With a deal like this, you can become a serious player in that market,” Gagne said.

Along with its office in Springfield, the company also has about 40 employees at an office in Cleveland.

The multi-year contract would allow the local company to produce landing gear systems for the Boeing 777 and 777X. Deliveries would begin in 2017, but the contract includes an option to extend through 2028. Under the agreement, the company will supply complete landing gear systems for Boeing, including the main and nose landing gear, as well as the nose gear drag strut.

HDI in Springfield was formerly known as the Eagle Tool and Machine Co., but that was purchased in 2010 by Heroux-Devtek Inc., a Canadian manufacturing company that produces aerospace and industrial products. Eagle Tool was founded in 1939 and produced landing gear components mainly for the military aerospace industry.

Some local employees were initially unsure what impact Heroux-Devtek’s acquisition of the company would mean for them. But Gagne said the new agreement with Boeing shows the company’s commitment to growing the local firm.

Gagne said employees were excited to hear about the new agreement. The company expects to add some jobs, including experienced machinists and engineers, but Gagne said it’s too early in the process to know how exactly how many.

The contract will mean stability for area employees and acts as a reminder of Clark County’s heritage in both manufacturing and aviation, said John Detrick, Clark County commissioner.

“This puts Clark County on the map,” Detrick said. “The state of Ohio is number one in aviation.”

The new agreement will mean an upgrade in technology to produce the landing gear, Gagne said, which should also make the company more competitive into the future. He said the current facility will likely have adequate space for the new equipment, but additional space could be added if necessary.

Along with the landing gear, the company will also produce spare parts for the equipment for Boeing. Over the course of a year, he said the company could produce 100 sets of landing gear, which includes two main legs and a landing gear for the plane’s nose.

The Boeing 77 is a twin-engine, long-haul airplane used in travel as well as for transporting cargo.

Gilles Labbe, president and chief executive officer for Heroux-Devtek, was not available for comment, but in a press release said the agreement will help solidify the company’s future.

“This … is a landmark achievement for Heroux-Devtek, as the long-term contract with Boeing would represent the largest contract ever awarded to our landing gear operations,” Labbe said.

The experience and skill within the Springfield facility helped make the deal a reality, Gagne said.

“I think it is exciting to see that this is coming here,” Gagne said.

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