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Story and Photos by Lynnette Burks

Video and Phots by Lyn Burks

Back in 2011, an interesting movie was released named Moneyball.  The movie was based on the story of Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane.  His former General Manager (GM), Sandy Alderson, mentored him in the art of sabermetrics (statistical analysis).  In turn, Beane successfully assembled a lower-budget team based on emerging prospects and undervalued veterans that consistently performed.  Most other Major League Baseball teams during this time were interested in high-priced superstars that may or may not have consistently produced.   One theme I noticed throughout the movie was consistent, well placed singles beat a few home runs every time.

 


Recently, Rotorcraft Pro had the opportunity to visit Southeast Aerospace (SEA) in Melbourne, Florida.  During our time with company Vice President Joe Braddock and the SEA employees, one could not help but notice the overwhelming presence of the values and traditions this great country was founded on: integrity, ingenuity, hard work and craftsmanship. 

When asked about their business philosophy, Joe was eager to share they are there for their customers whether the job is big or small.  He related it to baseball, “We don’t mind hitting lots of singles along with an occasional home run.”

Now, let’s round the bases for the rest of the story………

First in the Lineup

The Braddock family founded southeast Aerospace in 1993, with John Braddock III (the family patriarch) serving as company president until his recent retirement earlier this summer.  Senior Braddock provided the expertise to launch the fledgling startup, as he is an Air Force veteran and aviation professional.  The company originally started in South Florida, but the market was oversaturated for the up-and-coming avionics parts sales company.  Southeast Aerospace made the bold move to head a few hours north to the inviting location of Melbourne International Airport.   They have been expanding exponentially ever since.

They started at humble beginnings and have grown organically in a relatively short amount of time.  Throughout their history they have continuously reinvested in their company.  Their present facilities measure approximately 50,000 feet and they employ 130 full-time employees.

Hitting Singles

The company started in avionics parts sales and quickly expanded into bench work.  In 1995 they introduced pre-owned parts to the aviation market, similar to the “pre-owned” luxury automobile model.  Back then this was a totally new concept for the helicopter industry.  They launched a new SEA website that provided full specs on each part.  They used technology to bring innovation to the helicopter parts market, which had never been seen before by that market. 

Southeast Aerospace also made significant investments in other areas to afford them the ability to offer a variety of unique solutions for their customers.  For example, they invested in an environmental chamber to test parts at altitude and under extreme conditions.  They are one of a select few MROs in the country that possess this technology. 

SEA routinely utilizes the environmental chamber to detect failures that only occur at altitude or at specific temperature ranges.  For example, with weather radars the chamber allows them to calibrate the receiver for the five temperature zones that improve radar performance in detecting storm levels.  Most traditional shops do not have the ability to perform such testing.  This provides a higher level of confidence, quality, and reliability for their customers.

The company has also introduced another state of the art technology with the recent purchase of a five axis water-jet cutting center.  The center can cut virtually any type of material up to 8” titanium.  This allows SEA to purchase material in bulk, eliminating delays from suppliers and ensuring traceability.  Many of the programs SEA supports involve domestic and international government customers.  These customers require larger volume solutions without compromising the quality and integrity of an airframe or system.

The above are solid examples of how SEA has set itself apart from competitors.  When trying to define the company as a whole, Southeast Aerospace offers a full range of aircraft support including parts sales, MRO, engineering, systems design, and custom integration solutions.  The company maintains an extensive inventory of new and refurbished avionics and instruments.  SEA offers comprehensive repair and overhaul services through its large avionics bench shops and instrument overhaul facilities.  The company specializes in customization and full integration services.  SEA has FAA designated engineering representatives (DER) on-staff as well as parts manufacturer approval (PMA), supplemental type certificate (STC) development and kit production.    Southeast Aerospace is in a unique class of companies that can offer a full range of products and services in one location.  This special combination provides a high level of confidence, efficiency, and quality.

Making Assists

Southeast Aerospace serves a number of domestic and international markets including helicopter operators, government agencies, fixed-wing operators, and maintenance facilities.  Recently, SEA’s aircraft support and modification services have primarily focused on the rotorcraft market, but their experience also includes fixed-wing operations.

While the company can define their markets, they also have a unique approach to targeting new business.  SEA identifies customers that are having difficulty finding solutions in the marketplace and then works closely with these customers to find unique solutions for them.  For example, SEA recently identified a requirement for an aftermarket helicopter mount for various airframes.  SEA was able to engineer a new product from start to finish at a significant time and cost savings for operators.  This process has been repeated for many customers because the company has the ability to engineer, develop and manufacture PMA parts that have complex specifications and design requirements.  SEA’s machining capabilities allows their fabricators to meet or exceed tight tolerances with precise repeatability.

To put it simply, SEA creates opportunity through innovation.

Home Runs

Over the past few years, Southeast Aerospace has completed several large Special Mission projects and government agency programs.  Some of the programs involved designing structural and integration provisions for electronic counter measures (ECM) on rotorcraft that may not have had such provisions in the past.  These airframes included the UH-1N, S-61, and CH-46.  Due to their quality workmanship, professional approach, and routine on-time delivery, SEA caught the attention of other organizations and agencies who engage in aircraft operations with special and unique applications.  As a result of this exposure in the Special Missions world, SEA has added many capabilities, activities, and resources to its portfolio including structural manufacturing, laser wire marking, kit design, detailed DER engineering, and advanced integration services. 

Southeast Aerospace understands the critical nature of many helicopter operators and fleets.  They also understand that there are specific needs and requirements that a more generalized, traditional aviation support provider cannot offer.  In the near future, Southeast Aerospace will be offering some of its customized, solution-oriented products to a much larger sector of the helicopter industry. 

SEA has uniquely positioned itself to become an alternative to OEMs.  Simultaneously, they are collaborating with OEMs on specialized fabrications, repair and overhauls.  “Ingenuity is the mother of invention” perfectly describes their customer service philosophy and unique approach to each customer’s situation.

Final Score

This country was founded on fundamental values of integrity, ingenuity, hard work and craftsmanship. Southeast Aerospace has embraced these values and it is clearly evident in all of their operations.  They go to bat for their customers.  In fact, Southeast Aerospace is to aviation as the Oakland A’s were to baseball in the movie Moneyball.  SEA Senior Vice President Joe Braddock nailed it when he said, “We hit a lot of singles along with an occasional home run.”

 

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