GE Aviation, which has invested $17 million in three Dayton-area sites in the past five years and has partnered to add a $51 million facility on the University of Dayton campus, is continuing its growth here.
The Cincinnati-based maker of jet aircraft engines recently held a local career fair to help fill 15 open positions at the Vandalia plant and it expects the workforce to continue to grow at the National Road facility where it invested $3 million in the past year, said Michael Mancini, the company’s Vandalia site leader.
The company and UD also are investing $51 million in the Electrical Power Integrated Systems Research and Development Center (EPISCENTER) off South Patterson Boulevard on the UD campus. The new center is scheduled to open in June and will complement, not replace, other Dayton-area operations, Mancini and others said.
One of 80 GE Aviation supply chain sites worldwide, the Vandalia site serves Boeing and the U.S. Navy, producing electric power generation systems. A full 98 percent of its business goes to the military, and since the Navy in particular will take “everything” the facility will produce, the site is trying to produce more, Mancini said. That means the company needs qualified workers.
“We’ve been hiring for over a year,” Mancini said in an interview earlier this week.
There are 335 GE Aviation employees in Vandalia and 1,300 total employees at three Dayton-area sites — at Unison Industries Dayton in Beavercreek and TDI-GE Aviation, also in Vandalia. Add GE Capital’s workforce in Kettering, and GE overall has around 2,600 local employees.
GE Aviation has 9,000 total Ohio employees at six facilities.
In the past five years, the company has added 400 Dayton-area jobs. The Vandalia facility has hired 50 people since early 2011, and has 15 current openings. That number will grow, Mancini said, but he declined to say by how much.
The company is looking for engineers, machinists, test technicians, assemblers — “All of the above,” Mancini said. About 80 percent of the Vandalia facility’s focus is on new production, with the rest devoted to repair and overhaul of existing parts, much of which the Navy sends to Vandalia.
The work is demanding and plenty of craftsmanship can be involved. Some workers receive written instructions for assembling parts at their stations via computer monitor. “This particular one (set of instructions) is 66 pages long,” Mancini said, leaning over an assembler’s shoulder. “One missed step can be an issue, but we’ll find it in our testing procedure.”
Everything that goes out the door is tested for 10 to 21 days, said Wes Jones, test manager at the Vandalia facility. Many parts receive hundreds of hours of hands-on attention.
Referring to a generator converter unit for the F/A-18 Hornet, manufacturing associate Ian Leach said, “A lot of it is handcrafted.”
Some of the facility’s 70 design engineers will go to the Dayton EPISCENTER once it opens, but that center will ultimately free up manufacturing space at the older facility. The Vandalia building, built in the early 1950s, has 225,000 square feet total and 125,000 square feet set aside for manufacturing.
GE Aviation has said the new center will be focused on electrical power starter and generation, conversion, distribution, and load technologies for civil and military aerospace uses.
“If anything, it will give this place more work,” Jones said.
Said Mancini, “The Navy will take more than we’re giving them. We’re trying to ramp up capacity.”
Those interested in applying for jobs at GE Aviation are advised to go to gecareers.com. Applicants may search for openings by location. Vandalia openings can be found under “Vandalia OH.”