IBJNews

Aircraft paint shop at Grissom a boon for economy

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Two things about Dean Baldwin LP's new facility at Grissom Aeroplex: it's huge, as expected, and it doesn't smell like there's aircraft painting going on.

The giant aircraft parked inside, with paper and tape masking material draped all over, say otherwise, as do the 150 people already hard at work.

One would probably have to go back to the late 1990s to find a private sector company bringing so many jobs to Miami County, about 70 miles north of Indianapolis. And the 200 or so dignitaries gathered Thursday for a ribbon cutting were a testimony to the company's importance.

"It has been a dream to have a paint shop like this," Dean Baldwin CEO Barbara Baldwin told the Kokomo Tribune. "The airlines were waiting for a facility like this."

The $13.8-million project expanded one of Grissom's old hangars, a structure built in the late 1950s, by 50,000 feet on the east and west sides so large airplanes could fit inside. There is 155,000 square feet inside, enough room to paint four of the largest airliners at once.

Baldwin was asked if there were any aircraft too large for the Grissom facility.

"Probably a (Lockheed) C-5 (Galaxy). That's about it," she replied.

Teams of painters were lined up in front of aircraft as Baldwin led a tour Thursday. With massive ventilation systems and 1,400 separate filter panels in place, paint fumes clear out in a matter of a few minutes, she explained. The floors are washed frequently; no paint is allowed to build up.

"This facility is one-in-a-million," Baldwin said in March. "It's really state-of-the-art."

Thursday, she said the company plans to paint and service more than 200 airplanes a year out of the new facility, which could attract other aviation businesses to the area.

The expansion nearly doubles the size of Dean Baldwin, which currently employs 240 people at its facilities in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.

It's a godsend for Miami County, which lost a larger percentage of its residents between 1990 and 2000 than any other Indiana county. In the subsequent decade, only the addition of several thousand Miami Correctional Facility prisoners in 2010 stanched the downward trend.

Peru Mayor Jim Walker said Grissom's transition from an active duty Air Force base to a reserve base cost 4,500 jobs and $105 million in economic activity.

Returning from that blow hasn't been easy.

"In all honesty, when you're handed a former Air Force base, the first question is, what are we going to do with it?" Walker said. "From the shock in 1994 to a celebration in 2013, this really is a success story."

Baldwin called the hangar, which was gutted, retrofitted and painted bright blue, "the ugly duckling which turned into a swan," and said the facility's painting bays are already booked into next year.

They've hired 150, she said, "and we need 30 more right now."

"I'm killing them, making them work six days a week to get all of these aircraft out of here," she said.

Baldwin said the Grissom facility is probably the largest independent paint shop of its kind.

"The big thing I think it means for Grissom is that people know we're open for business in the aviation industry," Walker said.

The expansion project was funded by a $7.2 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state loans totaling $5.1 million and more than $1 million in local funding from Miami County.

Dean Baldwin signed a 30-year lease agreement with Miami County to use the hangar. The yearly lease payments will go toward paying off the federal and state loans.

Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said studies estimate the facility will have an economic impact of $162 million in the area during its first five years of operation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

ADVERTISEMENT