Published DateLACONIA — State Senators Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) and Sylvia Larsen (D-Concord) toured Titeflex Aerospace Wednesday morning and said that they were pleased to see that the company is adding jobs in Laconia and is competitively placed in the world market to increase its business even more.
The company, formerly known as Smith Tubular Systems and prior to that as Lewis and Saunders, employs 350 people, making it the third largest employer in the city behind Lakes Region General Hospital and New Hampshire Ball Bearings, and has annual sales of $85 million.
Graham Thomson, general manager, said that the company is part of the Smith Group, based in London, and leads the world in steel braided and para-aramid flexible hose. It also produces complex rigid assemblies in various metals. Titeflex assemblies support fuel, hydraulics, lubrication, gases, oxygen, or air in land based turbines, commercial aircraft, military, and space applications.
Among its major customers are Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, Rolls Royce, General Electric and Airbus.
The company in recent months has hired five new engineers, all from out of state, and over the last year has added over 30 production workers.
Thomson said that there is a huge pent-up demand in the commercial aviation field which the company hopes to capitalize on and said that it has invested heavily in research to develop products which meet the needs of a new generation of commercial aircraft.
Martin Hough, the firm's financial controller, said that the company will be supplying all of Boeing's 5000 psi product and is positioned to beef up its second shift in the months ahead and that if demand warrants may even start at third shift..
Thomson said that 90 percent of the company's workforce lives in Laconia and that he would like to see the firm improve its local visibility so that it becomes synonymous with local manufacturing,
He identified major areas of concern for the company as the shortage of skilled labor, the need for an attractive community in order to encourage highly skilled workers to relocate to the Laconia area, increases in health care costs, government program funding and the availability of research and development tax credits.
One area that the company sees as a major avenue for future development is obtaining Federal Aviation Authority foreign repair station approval for a facility in the Far East which would enable it to use its current repair capabilities to compete in a growing market. But the FAA is currently not granting foreign repair station approvals.
The company is also working to establish closer ties to advanced manufacturing programs which are being developed at Lakes Region Community College to help meet its needs for CNC machinists and other skilled production workers.
Hosmer and Larsen said that the visit to Titeflex was part of their attempt to continue their conversation with New Hampshire business leaders on how best to grow New Hampshire's economy and create jobs.
Hosmer noted that both he and Larsen supported the move to double state business tax credits for research and development which unanimously passed the State Senate last week.
''It's important to us and industry in the area, like Freudenberg-NOK which spent $7.5 million last year on research and development,'' said Hosmer.
The bill which passed increases the total credits available from 1 to 2 million dollars
The Senate unanimously supported a similar bill last year, but the proposal failed after House Republicans amended it to also include language requiring women seeking abortions to wait for 24 hours.
Graham Thomson, left, general manager of Titeflex Aerospace and Steve Genest, human resources manager for the firm, show Senators Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) and Sylvia Larsen (D-Concord) some of the advanced products the company makes for the aviation and aerospace industry. (Roger Amsden/for the Laconia Daily Sun)