Veterans fulfill a significant role in the success of Summit Aviation. So much so that recently, for the second consecutive year, we have received the HIRE Vets Platinum Medallion Award from the U.S. Department of Labor for our efforts to recruit, employ and retain the nation’s veterans.
The prestigious award is the only veteran hiring award given at the federal level, recognizing a company or organization’s commitment to veteran hiring, retention and professional development.
Summit’s Vice President and General Manager Ralph Kunz says that hiring vets is part of the company’s culture.
“Our veteran employees exemplify unique leadership, technical expertise and problem-solving abilities – those are highly valued skillsets in any workplace – particularly ours. We’re humbled to not only work alongside our veterans each day but also to receive positive recognition for the supportive culture of our environment.”
Summit provides a variety of maintenance and manufacturing services for various military aircraft operators through its MRO and manufacturing facilities. Therefore, it equally makes business sense to hire people who appreciate or have experience with these aircraft.
“Our veterans come in with quite a bit of experience. They were either in-flight testing or a mechanic even in logistics too. Many of them worked in logistics in the military,” commented Lynn Trent, Summit’s HR manager. She added Summit makes a point to post jobs through veterans associations to attract top talent.
Currently, nearly half of Summit’s 183 employees are veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
Summit not only employs veterans but additionally provides a variety of maintenance and manufacturing services for a variety of military aircraft operators through its MRO and manufacturing facilities.
What lies at the heart of our work? Attention to detail. Turning work has been one of our strong suits since our company’s inception. It’s the type of manufacturing we’re passionate about. The kind we excel at. It’s why we make sure the CNC machines we run are top-of-the-line and put us in the best possible position to exceed our customer expectations.
We operate five lathe machines here at Summit Aviation Manufacturing.
We utilize three Doosan lathe machines with live tooling, Mori lathe, and a Haas tooling lathe. These machines serve us well particularly because they can handle fairly large and complex turn parts, but they can also handle small intricate parts as well. This means no matter what part our customer needs, no matter how big or small the part, no matter if it’s a small or medium run, we get to say yes to their request.
How does lathe work set us apart?
Customization is the name of our game. And while most CNC shops out there do either milling or lathe work, we do both. We take it one step further and add assembly to the list of ways we provide value to our customers. From concept to completion, we can handle all machining, coating, testing and assembly needs.
Our quality control process is second to none; inspections are intense and, you guessed it – detailed. Lathe work is specific by nature; we take that seriously. But we won’t lie, we really love operating these big machines!
Quality assurance is extremely important to our organization. It’s the responsibility of our Quality Control Inspectors as well as our machinists, engineers and other key employees who may take part in the inspection process at any stage during the manufacturing lifecycle.
In our Somerset facility, our Quality Inspection Lab is second to none. In it, we make full use of our leading-edge technologies including the Hexagon Absolute Arm RS6 3D Laser Scanner and Faro Edge ScanArm.
With the scanner, we have the ability to create complete polygonal models to directly compare one part to the next by generating a "golden part." Golden parts can be used as a reference for training and inspection on future parts manufacturing.
Additionally, we have the ability to take a customer-supplied tool and verify its accuracy according to the requirements per part. This is a time-saver in the mass production of parts. With pinpoint accuracy, we can determine exactly where the tools are out of tolerance and repair the deviations before production.
Quality Control Final Inspector Otis Moore, Jr., says that the scanner along with the climate-controlled QC lab gives us the ability to inspect beyond the normal realm of manual tooling.
“We can inspect within .00001 hundred thousandths providing us the certainty that the parts we scan are within nominal tolerances.” He added that the technology we have now to measure contours is far superior to the past. Previously, the measuring of contours was something we had to rely on document verification for only - instead of direct measurements. So rather than being confined to straight line measurements, the Hexagon Scanner allows us to measure complete contours regardless of the multiple waves and shapes a part may have. A considerably easier and more accurate process.
For our customers specifically, we have the ability to create a formatted PDF report as certification for our inspections instilling in our customers the confidence that our parts are what we claim them to be.
For more on our Quality Control capabilities visit summitaviationmfg.com/capabilities/quality-control/.
Our IO-550 T.I. engine conversion establishes a new definition of performance, safety and comfort. What does this STC provide pilots who are familiar with the standard Cessna 206 & 210 and Bonanza? Faster cruise, stronger climb, improved comfort, reduced vibration wear and fuel savings, to name a few. In short, operators can fly faster and higher in smoother air or above inclement weather. Which, in many cases, is exactly what customers all over the world need to get their jobs done.
We’re currently filling orders from Belgium to the NW Territory of Australia, and all over North America. The benefits of our STC and Smooth Ride engine mount kit (sold separately) are numerous, but rather than list them out, we’d love you to hear it from a happy customer, instead.
Jason Sturgis is with Alaska Float Plane, and has this to say about his Cessna 206 with floats: “There is no doubt every Cessna 206 floatplane needs this setup. I have 250 hours with this engine and propeller setup; it has exceeded my expectation with 200 ft shorter takeoff distance, 1000 ft a minute at 70 kt, and 800 ft at best rate 90kt at 3,600 pounds. I found that you can climb without being concerned with engine temperatures and with the smooth ride engine mounts it is as smooth as a turbine aircraft.”
Beyond the Sale.
We’re not one of those companies that leaves our customers high and dry as soon as the check clears. That has never been and will never be our style. We provide detailed installation instructions and are here to support the kits from a parts standpoint should the need arise.
There’s not nearly enough room in this newsletter article to cover all we want to share about the STC; if you’d like to learn more, we invite you to visit our webpage over here.
We’d like to introduce you to our North Carolina facility’s CNC Machinist, Daniel Hennis. Daniel has been with Summit Aviation for just over nine years; as you might expect, he’s worn a few different hats within the company.
As someone who is flexible, a quick learner, and goes where needed, Daniel has been a great asset to our environment. He currently serves as the senior lathe machinist, and as such he enjoys helping troubleshoot problems with the rest of his team.
Daniel has watched the culture at Summit Aviation change over the years, and he’d call these changes nothing short of improvements. From upgrading our CNC machines, to streamlining our processes, all the way to onboarding people who are passionate about the industry and their jobs, the changes have been overwhelmingly positive. He won’t deny it; his favorite improvement is the people!
“The team here at Summit is the biggest reason I enjoy my job so much! It truly is a family atmosphere,” said Daniel.
When he’s not at work, you’ll find Daniel outdoors hunting, fishing or camping with his family. He loves to cook – both indoors, or outdoors on the grill/smoker. (Hungry yet?)
If you really want to see Daniel light up, ask him about this family. His wife is a breast cancer survivor, he’s incredibly proud of his son and daughter, and you can practically hear his heart explode when he mentions his 18 month old grandson. Add to the mix two dogs who don’t know they’re dogs, and you’ve got a family filled to the brim with joy… and it shows!
Talking with Charlie Russell is like sharing a cup of coffee with an old friend. He has a smooth Kentucky drawl mixed with Midwestern and Southern tones. One of those voices that just brings comfort to your soul.
Born and raised in Somerset, Kentucky, Charlie once had aspirations to be a lawyer, but life would take him another direction and he is perfectly content with that. You see, Charlie is not about routine. He embraces change, in fact, that is one thing he especially likes in his Engineering Technician role with Summit Mfg. in Somerset.
“It’s neat work. You complete a lot of assemblies and builds. It’s never routine. I enjoy the challenge of taking a bunch of different parts and constructing something out of them.”
During his seven-year tenure up till now with the company, Charlie said a couple of his favorite projects have included working on a S333 tail boom assembly and his current project of building the smoke tank for the Blue Angels. Another challenging project, but Charlie endures challenges in stride. “You have to go in with the mindset that you can adapt. You learn to be more proactive than reactive. You can apply that to everyday life. Try to embrace it and go on.”
Besides work, Charlie grips tightly onto family and friends, with whom he loves to spend time. Married to his wife for 21 years, he’s a doting father of two. He revels in quality time watching his son, who is only 16, take his place as Center for his high school varsity football team. And he bubbles with pride when he speaks of his daughter. She’s an 18-year old who started her first of year of college to become a teacher, during a pandemic and still made the Dean’s List the first semester.
Adapt. Be proactive. Embrace. These are more than words - they represent actions Charlie personifies every day in work and life.