Triumph will keep Spokane factory

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SPOKANE — In a memo to employees, Triumph Group said the right buyer didn’t emerge for its aircraft interiors business. As a result, Triumph will keep its Spokane factory and seven similar facilities in the U.S., Mexico and Europe, according to the memo from Tim Stevens, president of Triumph’s interiors business. The Spokesman-Review received a copy of the memo from union officials last week.

About 600 people work at the Spokane factory, which produces floor panels and ducting for airplanes. About half of the workers are union members.

“There’s a mixed feeling among members,” said Steve Warren, business representative for the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Union District 751 Local 86.

Union members had hoped a new owner would bring additional resources to the plant, expanding employment there, Warren said.

The plant’s workforce has shrunk by about 75 employees since the beginning of 2016 through layoffs and retirements, Warren said. Company officials have said layoffs will continue through the end of the year, he said.

Calls to Triumph’s corporate headquarters in Wayne, Pa., were not returned. But in the memo, Stevens said the company continues to face pressure from customers to lower costs, improve efficiency and deliver products on time.

Triumph announced in November that it was looking for buyers for its aircraft interiors business segment. Greater Spokane Incorporated and other business leaders pledged support for the West Plains factory, offering to help lobby for favorable tax policies and additional workforce training.

“We want to make sure our business climate fits with their corporate mission for that facility,” said Robin Toth, GSI’s vice president of business development. “They’re very pleased with all the support they have received from the Spokane region.”

Over the past three years, Toth said, Triumph officials told her the company has invested heavily in automation to keep the Spokane plant competitive.

“I think this is good news not just for Triumph and the employees who work there,” Toth said of the company’s decision not to sell, “but for the aerospace supply chain in Spokane that supports Triumph.”

About 3,500 people worked in aerospace manufacturing in Spokane County last year.

Spokane County has 101 companies that make parts for aircraft. However, only nine companies are considered “direct suppliers,” which means that 50 percent or more of their business is tied to aerospace.