A Conversation with Andy Plyler

10/16/2011 11:30:00

Galaxy Technologies of Winfield was tied to Wichita's corporate jet industry at the time the industry went into its slump.

Most suppliers say they have to diversify into other businesses to survive, but many find the change just too difficult.

But, for Galaxy, it worked out beautifully, said CEO Andy Plyler. Sales are up, employment is up, and he's looking for more equipment, people and business.

Plyler, 49, was brought to Galaxy by its main owner, Gladstone Capital, three years ago to rebuild the company.

He got to Galaxy after a series of jobs. Most recently he oversaw Hawker Beechcraft's service centers worldwide. Before that he was at Honeywell, Goodrich, Delta Airlines maintenance and, going all the way back, to a stint with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne ending in the mid-1980s.

Tell me about the company?

"About 80 percent of our business is aerospace tooling and 20 percent is plastic injection molds, which is the company's legacy business.

"Of the aircraft piece, about 40 percent is commercial. That's about doubled. Military work is maybe 15 to 20 percent of business."

How did you get there?

"I was recruited to refocus the company and do strategic planning for when the turnaround came, which is now happening."

You see a turnaround in aircraft?

"On the commercial side it's under way with the rate increases in the A320, 737 and 787, and then this week the program announcements on the Cessna M2 and the new Latitude. The industry is turning around, and we want to be ready for that."

To what do you attribute the company's success?

"A lot of this is can be traced back three years when we decided to diversify, At the time about 70 percent was the general aviation market. We had to rationalize our customer base, looking to the commercial aviation and the military side to supply companies such as Boeing and Bell. Also, both general aviation and commercial aviation are doing more and more outsourcing of tool manufacturing."

You said you may have to expand your plant as well?

"We bought a machine center earlier in the year. We've very happy with it. It's state of the art equipment and now we're looking for another one. If we do buy one, we'll need to add a building."

What kind of job growth are you seeing?

"At end of 2010, we had about 120 employees. Now, we're at 155 and are seeking 20 to 25 more direct employees. One of the reasons we are rebranding ourselves (from Galaxy Tool to Galaxy Technologies) is for recruiting and retaining employees."

What kind of employees are you looking for?

"Tool makers, CNC operators and machinists, and design engineers. One of the things with engineering, if we can secure a design contract for a project coming up, we will be leasing space in Wichita. We are in the prospect mode, right now. We're having nice discussions with major OEMs in Wichita."

Do you see continued growth?

"Yes. We're looking at acquisitions, right now. And we're also looking at adjacent industries in high speed rail, wind, medical and automotive."

Are you having to learn new things as the CEO?

"I was just thinking about it: It's a culmination of all my skill set over the last 20 years, general management, strategic planning and human resources. It allows me to put myself in all the areas and push the company forward."

After all those big companies, how was the move to a small company?

"I'm very comfortable in the Winfield community and the industrial park is good. It's a smaller business, but you make business decisions quicker and the company is more agile than some of our larger competitors."

Who is Gladstone Capital?

"It's called a business development corporation. It's like a private-equity fund, although it's publicly traded, that does recapitalizations much like ours."

By DAN VOORHIS | The Wichita Eagle
Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2011/10/16/2064225/a-conversation-with-andy-plyler.html