Larsen tours Arlington’s AMT

Mar 29, 2011

Arlington Times

By Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — When word broke that Boeing had secured a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract, Arlington-based AMT was among the local companies who saw it as good news.

When U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen met with representatives of AMT and toured their facilities on March 25, he found out how much the company stands to benefit from Boeing’s fortunes.

“About 92 percent of our parts ultimately go to Boeing,” said Matt Russell, business development specialist for AMT. “We have 298 employees and we’re adding two more spindles to the three that we already have.”

These machining centers are used to produce Boeing aircraft wing ribs, and the new ones have already required a great deal of ground work before they can even be installed. Russell and Mark Riffle, chief executive officer of AMT, agreed that the two new machining centers have afforded trickle-down revenues to other area businesses.

“From the cement to the electrical systems, a lot of people have made money as we’ve expanded,” Riffle said. “With 162 yards of concrete that had to be laid, we’ve had more contractors than employees on site some days,” he laughed.

Larsen noted that, in his discussions with other businesses throughout the region, “I’ve asked them what’s stopping them from hiring more employees, and they’ve told me they’re waiting on the delivery on the 787.”

“We’re anticipating a surge, which is why we’re hiring right now,” Riffle said. “We have 20 openings to fill.”

Although AMT is ramping up its production capacity in no small part to accommodate the tanker, Riffle pointed out that its parent company’s $5 million investment in new technology such as the machining centers was made about five years out. Likewise, AMT’s production is already designed to make entry-level employees as efficient as possible.

“It’s not just about knowing where to drill the holes, but the whole process,” Riffle said. “ They’re tested on procedures and their tools are laid out like a NASCAR pit-stop. It’s the concept of workflow. We’re taking people who might be working at McDonald’s and teaching them a transferable trade.”
Russell added that, as AMT’s business expands, it will be pursuing relationships with other businesses as well, so that its fate won’t be tied quite as strongly to Boeing.

“The Air Force is our number-one customer right now, though,” Riffle said.