A Windfall for North Brevard
Embraer’s new Aero Seating Technologies facility in Titusville promises to have a wide-ranging impact felt not just throughout the city or county, but the state of Florida and perhaps the entire world of commercial airline manufacturing.
So when RUSH Construction took on the job of building the multi-million dollar facility for its Brazil-based client, it was well aware of just how important the job was. “It’s a big deal for this whole area,” said Mike Lapinski, Senior Project Manager at RUSH Construction, Inc. “It’s a big deal for us and they’re good people to work with.”
The facility, which is located at the aerospace-focused Spaceport Commerce Park, is expected to create 150 new jobs over the next four years. “The new Embraer Aero Seating Technologies is focused on the design, development and production of luxury aircraft seating solutions,” Frederico Fleury Curado, Embraer President & CEO said in a press release announcing the new facility.
One of the world’s leading commercial jet manufacturers, Embraer has seemingly made itself a new home in Brevard County. It opened a 250,000-square foot Legacy jet assembly plant at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in June, which represented a $28 million capital investment by the company. In 2014, they committed $24.2 million into building a 63,500-square-foot engineering Center of Excellence in Melbourne, which broke ground the same year.
The Aero Seating Technologies facility represents Embraer’s first foray into Titusville and is yet another sign of just how much the area has continued to attract new businesses in recent years. “The landscape of North Brevard continues to change and progress for the better,” Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher said.
“This Embraer project is playing a huge part in the overall picture of economic growth and development in the area. Not only will this project bring jobs, with average salaries of $48,000 within its organization, but it is also bringing opportunity for local contractors, like RUSH, and other businesses to service their needs. We are already seeing the positive impact of this new facility in Brevard County,” Fisher commented.
Florida Governor Rick Scott announced the project in June of 2015 at the Florida Pavilion Inauguration event at the 51st International Paris Air Show and lauded the idea that “Embraer’s footprint in Florida continues to grow,” during his speech.
“By removing the sales tax on manufacturing equipment last year, we are signaling to businesses across the world that Florida has a competitive advantage over other locations, and companies like Embraer know that our state is the best place to grow and create jobs,” Scott said.
It also helps when you show you are able to overcome the number of hurdles that will inevitably come up. In this case, one of the biggest challenges came before construction had even begun and had to do with the initial design of the facility, handled by RS&H, that was supposed to take up 50,000 square feet.
“When the project first came out, it was only supposed to be one building with an administrative portion and a production portion,” Lapinski said. “Which expanded into two buildings to better suit their needs.
“That was a challenge, getting initial budgets and everything in line with what they needed and breaking ground. But we fast-tracked the project and we were building the structure before all the interior portions were figured out and we knew where everything was going.”
Challenges and Solutions
The production building measures 40,500 square feet with 36,000 square feet designated for the production floor and the rest of the space going to administration offices. The administration building is a little over 13,000 square feet. Because of the change in plans, there were other road blocks to overcome all while trying to get the project done by the end of September and making sure the customers got exactly the kind of structure they wanted. But once again, RUSH was able to adapt and overcome any issues before they became a significant problem.
“The equipment that goes in the production building has specific requirements for electrical, compressed air and all that, so it was a work in progress with Embraer,” Lapinski said. “… They were buying equipment as we were building the building, so there were some cross-connects, so we had to re-work some things. That was tricky.”
“With a new customer, it’s always challenging to figure out how they work and how they want things done. But it’s been a good team effort,” Lapinski noted.
For RUSH Construction, that team approach extends not only to working with Embraer, but to the county and city governments as well – further proof of just how important the project is to all involved.“Bringing this project to the completion is a team effort. The city and county have worked alongside us since the beginning,” Lapinski said. “The county prepared the site before we started.”
“They’ve continued to work with us to make sure the finished project met everyone’s expectations. The city has been great to work with as always. So it (has been) a team effort, all the way to the finish line, to get people working.”
Having visited Embraer’s Aero Seating Technologies subsidiary in Irwindale, California, where he saw the production line in action, Lapinski can’t wait to see it get up and running here in Florida. “Right now, it’s a big open space,” he said. “Come September, they’ll start moving in all of their production equipment. Hopefully, they’ll let us see that once it’s all done.”