By Becky Kramer / The Spokesman-Review
For every Boeing or Airbus, there are thousands of small manufacturers making parts for commercial airplanes.
They build seats and tray tables, floor panels, ductwork and other components.
The Northwest is home to more than 2,000 such manufacturers, which make up a critical but behind-the-scenes part of the region’s economy. A new trade magazine, launched from Spokane Valley, will help promote their work to a national audience.
Northwest Aerospace News Magazine is the brainchild of Dean Cameron, who spent 27 years as a sales manager for a local aerospace manufacturer.
“We’re getting the word out about these key suppliers, who have been seasoned by having Boeing in their backyard,” said Cameron, the magazine’s publisher.
The first edition of the free magazine will be out in February, just in time for a big aerospace trade show in Lynnwood, Washington.
Over the next 20 years, about 40,000 new airplanes will be needed to keep pace with global demand for air travel. The value of those orders is projected at $5.9 trillion, according to industry estimates.
Aerospace suppliers are at the forefront of getting those planes built, Cameron said.
Each Boeing 737 has roughly 600,000 parts, and each Boeing 777 has about 3 million parts. Many of the parts of airplanes are made elsewhere and shipped to factories for the assembly.
Aerospace parts supply, however, is a challenging industry, Cameron said. Margins are thin, schedules are tight and penalties are stiff for late deliveries.
For Tier 1 suppliers, which sell directly to companies such as Boeing or Airbus, “penalties can be upwards of $1 million per day” for missing deadlines for deliveries, Cameron said. So, there’s a lot of pressure on the supply chain.
When Cameron worked in sales for Multifab Inc., a local aerospace manufacturer, he often networked with other companies. They shared tips about which facilities had capacity to take on new orders and where to find quality work in fields such as injection molding or metal finishing.
The magazine will feature that type of insider information through profiles on aerospace manufacturers throughout the Northwest.
“We’re excited about Dean’s approach and the reach he’s hoping to see the magazine achieve,” said Staci Nelson, the Inland Northwest Aerospace Consortium’s executive coordinator. “Hopefully, it’s something that will lead to a stronger aerospace industry in our region.”
The consortium, founded in 2006, represents a regional cluster of aerospace manufacturers and companies involved with airplane maintenance and repair.
More than 200 Eastern Washington companies make parts for commercial and military aircraft. Their work has an economic impact in the $500 million range, Nelson said.
The magazine will publish six times per year. In addition to company profiles, it will contain advertising and an article submitted by Boeing. Each edition will include a poster-size aircraft print, which Cameron hopes will encourage people to open the magazine’s package.
“I’ve received a lot of trade magazines over the years and they’ve never got out of the plastic” envelope, he said.
Cameron, 57, and his wife, Pam, who is the magazine’s bookkeeper, used a Small Business Administration loan and some of their savings to start the magazine. They spent a year researching the potential advertising revenue, which will support the free magazine, and putting together a team of writers and designers.
The couple aren’t new to magazine publishing. They also own Art Chowder, a regional magazine focused on visual, performing and culinary arts.
In the long run, Northwest Aerospace News Magazine’s success will depend on whether its articles generate leads and new business for companies, Cameron said.
“If it solicits a phone call and an opportunity to provide a price quotation for a service or a product, then we’ve done our job,” he said.