Steve Jourdenais, President of Advent Aerospace, talks to EVA about the 20th anniversary of Jormac Aerospace and the future of its parent company, Advent Aerospace. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Advent Aerospace, Jormac Aerospace is a renowned engineering consultancy and hardware products house, focused on structural systems and components for the aviation industry.
This year (2015) the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, having been founded on September 30th, 1995 by Steve Jourdenais and Mike McAllister
The company started out as a ‘moonlighting’ operation by Jourdenais and McAllister, with the two structural engineers committed to solving engineering problems for clients in the evenings while holding down their day jobs.
“Mike was doing structural analysis in his free time for clients and I was doing the same thing for some companies I knew. We started swapping ideas and sharing each other’s work at night, helping where we could, and pretty soon the idea of starting our own company emerged,” Jourdenais recalls.
What drove the urge to form their own company was at least in part the recognition that the amount of work they were doing in the evening was unsustainable in the medium term. “We recognised we had to let either our day job or the night job go and we ended up letting ATR go and setting up a business working from home,” he says.
Initially a large part of the work they were doing involved passenger-to-cargo conversions of Boeing 727s. Then Boeing launched the BBJ and that proved to be a real turning point for Jormac. Chrysler Technologies Airborne Systems (CTAS) in Waco, Texas, hired Jormac to do stress analysis on their BBJ completions projects. (CTAS later sold the facility, at TSTC Waco Airport, to Raytheon.)
At one point CTAS had an overwhelming number of BBJ projects and under that pressure they turned to Jormac and asked if, instead of just structurally analysing CTAS’s designs, the company would consider actually doing the designs itself.
“Then their procurement department had trouble sourcing and building some of the parts we designed, so we started to build stuff we were only designing before, outsourcing the build to third parties for the most part. We’d bring the parts back into our shop, kit it up and send it off to CTAS. We specialised in ceilings and sidewalls but we did all sorts of modifications work, depending on what the customer wanted,” he comments.
“There were a lot of companies doing interior components, but what differentiated us was the wide scope of what we could do, everything from antenna installations to significant structural
modifications. We were not just a shop making secondary structures.
“In 2006, Jormac was acquired by Yankee Pacific Aerospace and suddenly we had a lot more funds available to grow the company. We had targets set that were a little higher than Mike and I had been setting for ourselves and we had to go out and get them, so that was a significant impetus to growth,” he adds.
In the nine years since the company became part of Yankee Pacific, Jormac has steadily expanded and is now housed in a 48,500 sq ft manufacturing facility in Largo, Florida. Yankee Pacific has since changed its name to Advent Aerospace and Jourdenais is leading Jormac and its sister company, Cabin Innovations, in new directions within the aircraft interiors market.
One of the keys to Jormac’s success, Jourdenais says, is that growing a vast enterprise was never the focus. “Our attention and primary goal was always the wellbeing of the people in the company as well as our customers. If you make sure your people are happy and feel valued, then the product going out the door will be to the high quality standards that you are setting for yourself and the customer is the beneficiary.
You cannot get consistent high quality without people feeling good about the jobs and what they are doing. This transcends anything that you set by way of growth goals for your operation. It is what gets me up in the morning and keeps me wanting to be a part of business aviation,” he comments.
As president of Advent Aerospace, Jourdenais now has the task of growing a family of companies, rather than just one. “Cabin Innovations in Lewisville, Texas, is Jormac’s sister division that specialises in turnkey VIP galleys. And like Jormac, Cabin Innovations is a leader in its chosen specialty,” he says.
Defining the direction of Advent Aerospace, Jourdenais explains, “We are taking the proven processes and procedures that gave Jormac staying power over the past 20 years and adapting them to Cabin’s operation. Likewise, Jormac is learning a few tricks from Cabin Innovations. Strict control of the engineering and manufacturing workflows ensure an accurate, state-of-the-art product. Vigilant programme management keeps the customer informed and the project on schedule. Combining talents across Jormac and Cabin as team members rather than separate companies maximises the value to the customer.”
Over their histories, Jormac and Cabin Innovations have touched and had a hand in a great many completions projects. Jourdenais estimates that by itself, Jormac has been involved with at least 90 BBJ completions. “These aircraft are some of the finest engineering and design achievements mankind has ever produced. These aircraft are truly lovely things and it is an honour to be a part of what man can do with an aircraft. There are a lot of people in this industry that love to do things to a level and standard that has never been done before till this moment and that is constantly inspiring,” he concludes