Boeing to relocate defense division headquarters to DC area

By Christian Davenport

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — When Donald Trump occupies the White House in January, he will be a lot closer to the senior leaders at Boeing running the Air Force One program he has threatened to cancel. The company announced Tuesday that about a dozen of its senior defense leaders are moving from St. Louis to Boeing’s Washington-area headquarters.

The company has been discussing moving its defense unit to the Washington area for months, and it is not related to Trump’s recent vow, officials said. Rather, it is “all driven by being closer to the customer,” Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said.

Earlier this year, Boeing appointed Leanne Caret to take over its Defense, Space and Security unit, a $30 billion business with 50,000 employees across the globe. Caret “puts a premium on personal engagement with senior leaders of the Pentagon, NASA and the Hill,” Blecher said. “And so this has been under consideration for some number of months.”

Many of the nation’s largest defense contractors — including the likes of Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics — are already located in the Washington area. Northrop Grumman was one of the most recent to join, moving to Falls Church, Virginia, from Los Angeles in 2011. Federal contractor SAIC relocated its headquarters in San Diego to McLean two years earlier.

In all, about a dozen Boeing senior executives will make the move from St. Louis to Washington in January, and eventually about 50 staff members would join them. The company’s Washington operation center is headquartered in a new, gleaming building in Crystal City, Virginia, near the Pentagon.

The company’s corporate headquarters are in Chicago, but it has run the defense business out of St. Louis, where it builds the F/A-18 Super Hornet, ever since it merged with McDonnell Douglas in 1997.

Some 14,000 employees will remain in the St. Louis area, Blecher said. Employees in St. Louis were told of the decision at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday. Since the senior leadership is moving, the company considers the headquarters of the unit to be moving as well.

The decision comes at a critical time for Boeing, which is involved in many high-profile defense and space programs. In addition to building Air Force One, it also makes the new fueling tanker, and it is competing to build a new jet for the Air Force’s fighter jet training program.

The company is developing a spacecraft that would restore NASA’s ability to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. It’s also one of the prime contractors on a giant new rocket, known as the Space Launch System.

Boeing found itself in Trump’s crosshairs last week after he tweeted that the costs of the Air Force One program “are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” Later he told reporters that he thought the cost was “ridiculous. I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg called Trump and vowed to work with him to keep the costs down. The company also has pledged $1 million to help pay for Trump’s inauguration. It made the same pledge for President Barack Obama.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Business Briefs: State minimum wage rises in January

Also, Boeing workers’ donations support local nonprofits and fundraiser for businesses impacted by Bolt Creek wildfire.

Jollee Nichols, right, and daughter Ruby, 2, work on an art project together at the Imagine Children’s Museum on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
With new addition, Imagine Children’s Museum doubles in size

More than just space, the Everett museum’s new $25 million wing is an investment in mental health.

Artistic rendering of 526 Speedway exterior. (Mosaic Avenue Realty Ltd.)
Mosaic Homes looks to add industrial condo space in Mukilteo

Mosaic Homes steps into commercial real estate development with 526 Speedway, an industrial condo project.

Andy Illyn with a selection of his greeting cards, Cardstalked, that are sold at What’s Bloomin’ Floral on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Adventure-seeking cop finds new thrill in greeting cards

Mukilteo assistant police chief Andy Illyn unwinds by turning puns and dad jokes into greeting cards.

Dan Murphy, left, Mary Fosse and Rex Habner. ( / Snohomish & Island County Labor Council)
Everett City Council member honored by local labor council

Mary Fosse, candidate for District 38, receives the first annual Mike Sells Labor Champion award.

Screen printed dish towels available at Madrona Supply Company on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022 in Clinton, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Do some good along with your Christmas shopping

Head across the Sound to Whidbey Island for gift-buying with a do-gooder spirit

Shoppers walk in and out of Macy’s at Alderwood Mall were Black Friday deals are being advertised on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Go ahead, hit snooze: Most Black Friday deals are online

Braving the stores on Black Friday is still a thing, but more retailers are closed on Thanksgiving.

FILE - In this photo provided by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, a crane and boats are anchored next to a collapsed "net pen" used by Cooke Aquaculture Pacific to farm Atlantic Salmon near Cypress Island in Washington state on Aug. 28, 2017, after a failure of the nets allowed tens of thousands of the nonnative fish to escape. A Washington state jury on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, awarded the Lummi Indian tribe $595,000 over the 2017 collapse of the net pen where Atlantic salmon were being raised, an event that elicited fears of damage to wild salmon runs and prompted the Legislature to ban the farming of the nonnative fish. (David Bergvall/Washington State Department of Natural Resources via AP, File)
State won’t renew leases for Puget Sound fish farms

Cooke Aquaculture has until Dec. 14 to wrap up steelhead farming and begin deconstructing their equipment.

Kevin Flynn, right, a meat-cutter with the Marysville Albertsons, hands a leaflet to a shopper during an informational campaign on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. Flynn was one of about a dozen grocery store workers handing out leaflets to shoppers about the proposed merger between Albertsons and Kroger. (Mike Henneke / The Herald)
Proposed merger of Albertsons and Kroger worries employees

Workers at an Albertsons in Marysville urge shoppers to sign a petition blocking the $25 billion deal.

Kim Taylor, left, and Jeff Stoner co-own Greenbank Cidery, a newly opened taproom on Whidbey Island with eight varieties of cider on tap. (Rachel Rosen / Whidbey News-Times)
Cider tasting room opens on Whidbey Island

The owners of Greenbank Cidery have opened a tasting room in Coupeville. Eight varieties of cider are on tap.

Erika Heer, EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer at Coastal Community Bank
Quiet Quitting – the good, bad and what to do about it

Mid-summer, the term ‘quiet quitting’ became a part of the vocabulary of… Continue reading

Customers walk in and out of Fred Meyer along Evergreen Way on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Store managers in Everett plead for help with crime, public safety

Two Fred Meyer stores report theft, drug use and threats, despite increased security and presence from Everett police.