Military and Aerospace Manufacturers Representatives
Terry: Florida is a huge supporter of the warfighter effort. The companies that we have here are helping to protect our men and women who are serving, and its focus of missiles and SAT and communications and guidance are critical to the current development efforts that the US military has underway, and we support that. The current defense budget looks very attractive and there’s a lot of design work going on which we welcome and we’re able to support because of our knowledge and connections with the engineers and the program managers that are leading this.
Walt: A good example is L3 Harris in Melbourne, Florida / Palm Bay, Florida. This is their corporate headquarters for the whole world. There are 6000 people here in Florida. We literally know hundreds and hundreds of people there, particularly engineering at the corporate level. So there’s always a lot of work to do. As a matter of fact, we double team, we tag team L3 Harris. We have a lot of luncheons with them because of Covid problems in the past you couldn’t go in there, well now you finally can start to go in, after filling out their required forms. We’ve been doing a lot of lunches with engineers at Meemaw‘s Barbecue place in Palm Bay! One of their favorite joints. We get a chance to sit back there at one of the picnic tables and eat barbecue and talk about the designs. And then you have L3 Harris which is huge.
We also have Lockheed Martin, which is missile fire control. They’re doing Hellfire missiles there. They’re doing LRasm. They’re doing hypersonic missiles. It’s probably 6 or 7 thousand people there. They built a new building. They’ve got 600 engineers alone that work in hypersonic missile. So, if you’re not in Florida, if you don’t live, sleep, and eat Florida design work you’re not going to know who these people are. And I might add, since we cover L3 Harris, which is a corporate location, we do get a lot of corporate information which we pass on to all our principals. We try and provide you with that information to see what they’re doing, where they’re doing it, and their other locations.
Walt: A lot of people don’t know, you go to the L3 Harris website for example, and they list not every state but many states, all their locations. It’s a one-sheet thing. It’s wonderful. So you see what’s in Massachusetts, what’s in Utah, what’s in Florida, what’s in California. And we’ve sent those to principals and it’s a real eye-opener for some of them to see these locations and what they do. Often, they think everything is done here in Florida, but it’s not. They’ve got around 60 facilities in the US including the big ones, the RF, the two-way radios in Rochester, New York, and the ones in Virginia for the radios. They have several facilities around. So, we try and supply that corporate information to you. We try and go above and beyond to give you information on what to do. We also have a few other smaller places here that do some submersibles and things like that but it’s a very low volume. We do have Tritan submarines for example which are beautiful submarines in Sebastian, Florida. There’s one in River Beach that does some for the commercial oil industry. So, we have little niches like that.
We also have about 40 contract manufacturers in Florida and assemblers that do cable assembly. There’s alot of them and they focus on the military. A lot of them are hub zone, for example, there’s one up in the Melbourne area which does a lot of business with L3 Harris. So we support them for RF cable, there’s a lot of RF Cable. There are also a number of smaller places that buy RF cable and resell or support L3 Harris or Lockheed Martin, or anybody else. Some of that’s through distribution so it’s important for us to support distribution, support those principals that have distribution and support the principles that do that directly with some of the subcontractors. So, we visit them, we see them, we talk to them all the time. We work a lot with them, and carbon copy the principals so we see a lot come from these smaller accounts, there’s no question about that.
Walt: We do have some lines that have some limited distribution, so we do work with the Futures, the Avnets, the Arrows, the Digikeys of the world and we know who these people are in Florida but even that’s an ever-changing landscape because there’s been a lot of consolidations between offices and people. There’s been some new people on board, some new regional guys, new GMs etc. but we do support distribution. We also represent a company called Microwave Components in Stuart, Florida and by virtue of their name: what they do is all microwave components. So, they’re very specific.
Many of their customers in Florida are military customers, the same ones we call on. So, it’s an advantage for us because if someone’s working on and needs a prototype part, we can go to them and get it and refer to them. So that’s been a help to us because when you work distribution, as you do with anybody in any business you learn things. You learn about something you didn’t know: a customer you may not have known or an engineer you didn’t know, so you get additional information from follow-ups. A lot of the information you get for people to see and places to go comes from your relationships with distribution, always has and probably always will because they always have some insight that you don’t, and you have insight that they don’t. So, it kind of works out. It’s more of a symbiotic relationship than anything.
Terry: Florida, out of the Southeast if you look at the Carolinas and Alabama and Georgia etc., etc. the rest of the Dixie states, the government GDP dollars for military sales is greater in Florida than all those combined and it’s because of the accounts that we call on. Walt and I double team L3 Harris, Collins, DRS, Honeywell, Raytheon, BAE, Crane, Eglin Air Force Base. There’s more but once again the model that Walt and Ron set up years ago, we are truly focused on the military aerospace accounts, and we spent most of our time there.
Walt: Aerospace goes hand-in-hand with the military and avionics. People like Rockwell Collins that we have in Florida, for example go hand in hand with that business. Aerospace is a broad term for space, satellites, commercial, military. It’s a huge commercial market now with Amazon and Blue Origin in the Melbourne area. They’re launching from the same place that the Red Stones launched when I was a kid, watching the astronauts go up into space, Mercury astronauts. So that’s a big market – that commercial business and you’re seeing in the commercial business that we’re learning that they’re making not necessarily military components, not necessarily S-Level but there’s another NASA standard they’re going to which is less expensive. So, they keep the cost down, which works just as well. Plus, if Elon Musk is sending up 100 small satellites and he loses 30 of them he doesn’t care because he kept his cost down. He’s still got 70 of them up in space. So that is changing. It’s a changing market and we’re learning about that, and we try and educate our principles about that.
Terry: L3 Harris has expanded its manufacturing footprint to support space, so space is going to be critical to our growth in the future. It’s a market we’ve been supporting for 17 years but more so in the last 10 years, it’s just continued to escalate because of the threats we’re seeing about the world.
Walt: Yeah, they have expanded their manufacturing base, L3 Harris for space. They also opened a facility last year in Fort Wayne, Indiana for space so we advise all our principals to be there with products you have. You should be talking to those people as well. Lockheed Martin expanded for space. They’ve hired 1,000 engineers in the last couple of years, I think. Honeywell has expanded. L3 Harris has combined their business units. Their sales are up, and their profits are up. They’ve combined their 3 business units. At one time they had 5 but now they’ve combined their business units even more. Lowered cost and they are doing very well. Sales are up and their profits are up. They’ve combined their three business units, which two of them are sanctioned here in Florida. But they have other locations from around the country and around the world.
Walt: The trends in Florida continue to be more military. Florida is a very friendly business state. They gave a lot of money to DRS to bring in some new facilities and development. Eglin Air Force Base up in the panhandle, which Terry goes to about three times a year…many Manufacturers’ Reps don’t even cover. We do a significant amount of business up there supporting the companies like DRS and BAE that support Eglin, and that’s been successful for us. We’ve done very well giving a lot of information to folks up there for what they’re doing and there are places like SAF batteries which we don’t really do a lot of business with, but they have a large facility where they manufacture batteries in Jacksonville and that came from the Governor going after them and giving them, a big incentive package and they’re doing well. So, Florida is a very business-friendly state.
Walt: We have a high concentration, when you have 6000 people at L3 Harris and 6000 at Lockheed Martin and 4000 at Honeywell, that’s 15-16,000 people that are engineers that work here so you have a real technology base of people plus several universities that support all that. You’re not going to see any of these people leaving Florida anytime soon. It’s going to continue to grow, and you’ll continue to see more business coming in. Israeli companies come into the Orlando area. You still have Northrop Grumman in the Orlando area, Northrop Grumman brought in all their folks, about 400 people when they closed their facility in Long Island. They’re now in Melbourne. The new B2 Spirit Bomber: we have some designs on that, so it continues to grow. I see it being very successful in the next 5-6 years, particularly in places like Lockheed Martin and Honeywell with the guidance systems because the new guidance systems go hand in hand with what they’re doing in missile and fire control at Lockheed Martin.