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Sunday, May 19, 2024
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GKN Aerospace Ramping Up For Future Growth

AEROSPACE: Fan Blade Repair Hub Moving to New, Larger Location

The local factory hub of global aerospace supplier GKN is taking flight.

The company, originally forged in South Wales during the Industrial Revolution and now with more than 15,000 employees in 38 manufacturing locations in 12 countries, is moving its El Cajon-based aero-engine parts repair shop.

GKN El Cajon, which has been located for decades at 1150 W. Bradley Ave., will move more than 330 of its fan blade repair-focused employees to a new 162,000-square foot spot less than a mile away from its current location.

The new location will be at the corner of Weld Boulevard and Cuyamaca Street near the border of Santee.

The site, called Gillespie Field iPark, is on San Diego County-owned land overseen by the city of El Cajon.

It has been empty for years. Internet giant Amazon in 2021 had planned to open a last-mile distribution center on the 29-acre site at 1756 Weld Blvd., but that never came to fruition.

Expecting Growth

GKN’s move to the new building is expected to come at the end of 2024, according to Aaron Parkinson, project director at GKN. Parkinson said about 200 jobs will be added between now and through the end of 2025.

Aaron Parkinson
Project Director
GKN

Parkinson said the MRO industry is expecting to grow over the next 10 years and this move allows GKN to grow with the market.

The company recently opened a repair facility in Johor, Malaysia, a $35 million investment, and added 300 jobs.

“We’re getting more volume, more growth and more in the product line,” he said. “There’s already more demand that we can keep up with and we’re preparing for major growth over the next 15 to 20 years.”

C2 Construction has already begun the process of building the new space for GKN. Grading is finished and the foundation has been poured, with slabs being laid down.

The shell of the building will be erected later this year and into the spring with the office building slated for March through June, Parkinson said.

Susan Guerra
COO
Chesnut Properties

According to property management company Chesnut Properties, GKN will occupy only part of the building, which has a footprint of 381,240 square feet. Future tenants have not been secured yet, according to Susan Guerra, COO for Chesnut Properties.

“The activity is robust with other users that are in the works, but we do not have a signed deal that we can share or disclose,” she said.

The building will include state-of-the-art features like solar panels and Early Suppression Fast Response sprinklers. It also means new repair equipment for the fan blades it fixes, and comfort care like air conditioning for employees.

El Cajon Biz a Top Money Maker

GKN’s El Cajon facility employs more than 1,000 people, most of them in the new-build part of the business.

James Sly
President & CEO
East County Economic Development Council

GKN Aerospace is a leading global tier one supplier of airframe and engine structures, landing gear, electrical interconnection systems, transparencies and aftermarket services. It supplies products and services to a wide range of commercial and military aircraft and engine prime contractors, and others.

Its site in El Cajon manufactures lightweight structures for high performance aerospace applications, specializing in lightweight titanium and aluminum alloy engine components, including rings, modules, ducts and compressor cases.

Fan blade repair is one of the company’s top money makers.

“We operate the largest fan blade repair business,” Parkinson said. “We service around 500 customers, including major airlines like Southwest, American and Delta. We have customers around the world and get blades shipped to us from Europe and Asia.”

The company also repairs fan blades and cases for jet engines.

Graham Mitchell
El Cajon City Manager

Local leaders are lauding GKN’s move.

“Manufacturers are vital to our regional economy and GKN is one of the largest employers in East County,” said East County Economic Development Council President and CEO James Sly. “We’re excited that they continue to invest in East County and grateful for the high-quality jobs and community partnerships they bring.”

El Cajon City Manager Graham Mitchell said the city is “thrilled” to have GKN, “with a global presence spanning across numerous continents” continue to be part of the city that is a “premier manufacturing hub in East County.”

“GKN’s ongoing expansion serves as a shining example of the abundant opportunities that thrive within our community,” he said.

GKN Aerospace

FOUNDED: 1953
GENERAL MANAGER: Dr. Par-Eric Viklund (El Cajon site director of civil aftermarket)
HEADQUARTERS: El Cajon
BUSINESS: Aviation repair and parts manufacturing
STOCK: Melrose Industries PLC (MRO.L)
EMPLOYEES: 1,000+
WEBSITE: gknaerospace.com
CONTACT: 619-258-5109
SOCIAL IMPACT: Employee resource groups volunteer for trash pickup/food services/schools
NOTABLE: GKN-created or repaired equipment can be found on 100,000 flights a day.

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