Corporate moves won’t affect Vergennes aerospace plant

VERGENNES — Despite recent major changes in the corporate structure of one of Addison County’s largest employers, a company spokesman said this week it should be business as usual on Panton Road in Vergennes.
What in 2012 was a Goodrich Aerospace plant — and until late last year did business under the banner of United Technologies Aerospace Systems — now has a Collins Aerospace sign facing Panton Road after parent company United Technologies Corp. completed a multi-billion-dollar acquisition.
Collins Aerospace Public Relations Specialist Robert Edilson said in in email that the acquisition and corporate changes would have essentially no impact on the facility or its workforce, which he said had grown to 870 by the end of 2018. That employee count was a few dozen more than when the sale to UTC was announced seven years ago, and almost 100 more than officials reported a year ago.
“No changes are planned for the Vergennes location at this time,” he wrote.
The fine print on the new sign still says that the plant is part of the United Technologies Corp. (UTC) family. Here’s how the sign came to be.
On Nov. 26 UTC closed on its $26 billion purchase of aircraft parts maker Rockwell Collins, and it announced plans to merge it with UTC’s Aerospace Systems branch (of which the Vergennes plant was a part) and rename it Collins Aerospace. (UTC Aerospace itself was created in 2012 when UTC purchased Goodrich.)
The units of the new Collins Aerospace did $23 billion of business last year, according to the company.
The new Collins Aerospace company announced by UTC in November has six divisions. The Vergennes plant is part of the “Mission Systems” division, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the original home of Rockwell Collins.
According to UTC’s website, “Mission Systems includes: solutions for secure military communication, navigation and guidance; missile actuation; simulation, training and range instrumentation; strategic command and control; unmanned aircraft systems; electronic warfare; ejection seats and propulsion; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and space solutions.”
Edilson confirmed the division has a military orientation, and the Vergennes plant, as has been the case, will continue to produce equipment for military applications.
“Mission Systems is primarily military-focused and the products from Vergennes fall into that category,” Edilson wrote.
Rockwell Collins was founded as a radio company in Cedar Rapids in 1933. The UTC website lists company accomplishments as “helping Rear Admiral Richard Byrd establish communications at the South Pole in 1933; providing the communications equipment used for every American astronaut traveling through space; and opening the door to modern-day GPS by receiving a signal from the world’s first GPS satellite.”
Since its beginning, Rockwell Collins moved into avionics, including cabin systems, connected aircraft, and simulation and training.
Now, according to UTC, Collins Aerospace “supplies electrical, mechanical and software solutions across all major segments of the aerospace industry” and now has 70,000 employees in 300 sites.
More corporate churn is still upcoming.
On the same day it closed on the Rockwell Collins purchase, Nov. 26, UTC announced it would separate into three independent companies under the UTC umbrella by sometime in 2020.
The three parts are:
•  United Technologies, comprised of Collins Aerospace, based in Cedar Rapids, and Pratt & Whitney of East Hartford, Conn. According to a UTC press release United Technologies is intended to be “the preeminent systems supplier to the aerospace and defense industry,” with a mix of customers that is 75 percent commercial and 25 percent military.
•  Otis, a manufacturer of elevators, escalators and moving walkways.
•  Carrier, a provider of building heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems; refrigeration; automation; fire safety; and security products.

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