Pace Industries Airo Division
If you are traveling on Industrial Boulevard in Loyalhanna Township, chances are you have noticed Pace Industries Airo Division. The main manufacturing facility is over 155,000 square feet, has a parking lot full of employees’ cars and is hard to miss. What you can’t tell from the outside is the Airo Division has been at this location for over 40 years, has gone through seven expansions and has no plans on slowing its growth.
Founded in 1975, the Airo Division’s initial purpose was to produce aluminum die cast compressor blades for the nuclear industry. Today, the company has grown significantly and serves a variety of industries including the automotive, motorcycle, recreational vehicles, and works with heatsink technology. The company is more than die casting. When asked what sets them apart from others, Airo Division president Mike McDoniel said the best way to describe themselves is “die cast solutions.”
“We do more than just casting; we are a value-added operation. It starts with helping our customers design their product for manufacturability and designing the die cast tooling for optimum processing. When we go into production we cast, trim, machine, vibrate, shot blast, impregnate, leak test, and/or paint the castings we produce depending on our customers’ needs. We also do quite a bit of sub-assembly for our customers.” explained McDoniel.
Servicing approximately 30 customers a year, the Airo Division knows that it must keep up with demand and technology. One way they are doing this is by making a $4.8 million investment in their Powder Coat Operation facility. Work is currently underway on revamping a 15,000 square foot area and installing a world-class powder paint system. McDoniel anticipates the new system will be in production by March 2019. When completed the project will increase capacity along with improving paint quality.
Additionally, a $4 million project is in the works for the main facility. Pending approval, a 12-14,000 square foot expansion project will take place in 2019. Along with the new construction, the project will involve placing two new melting furnaces in the new structure which will give the company more capacity and improve safety and environmental conditions.
Committed to quality, this year the Airo Division has attained International Automotive Task Force (IATF) 16949:2016 certification. The certificate ensures suppliers implement and sustain robust systems of control to produce high-quality products with no errors and provide exceptional services on a consistent basis. Emphasis is placed on the reduction of variation and waste, defect prevention, and continual improvement in the overall supply chain.
With the workforce at 427 McDoniel says employment is stable yet growing, adding many have been at the company for 20 or 30 years. “We have a positive culture, with great wages and benefits,” explained McDoniel. While the workforce is steady, McDoniel said the Airo Division intentionally interfaces with the community and hopes to inspire the next generation of potential employees. “We have done a couple of projects with Greater Latrobe High School where the students were given a challenge and then had to present a potential solution.”
The Airo Division also participates yearly in National Manufacturing Day. This year the company opened its doors to 27 students from the Greater Latrobe School District, the Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, and Adelphoi. Representatives from the Westmoreland County commissioners’ office and Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation were also on hand with the students, and the groups were able to experience the workings of a modern manufacturing facility and the diverse career opportunities offered at the company. During the visit, Commissioner Anderson presented the Airo Division with a proclamation recognizing the company as a leader in the manufacturing industry and for their role in supporting the region’s economy.
(Left to Right) Don O'Brien, chief of staff to Commissioner Cerilli; Dylan Dando, EHS & Training Manager at Pace Industries; Mike McDoniel, Division President at Pace Industries; Commissioner Anderson