Medford, Ore.– One local company is off to a good start this year with a new contract that will benefit locals of the Rogue Valley.
Erickson Incorporated, an aerospace manufacturer and air services company that started in Central Point some 45 years ago recently won an open competition to produce two S-64 helicopters for the Korea Forest Service resulting in an opportunity to hire 50 to 100 new employees.
“The employee base here, morale is up. Everybody is pretty excited about 2018 and beyond,” said Andrew Mills, president of commercial aviation for Erickson.
While the company will be hiring high tech engineering jobs, they plan to hire a wide variety of other personnel to help in other areas of production.
“Structural mechanics, structural engineers, down to people who will just act as parts buyers for us and additional labor that will help on the floor,” said Mills. “It’s a wide range of jobs, it’s not any specific class.”
Plans to finish the two aircrafts are expected to be in 2019 and the positions they are hiring for are expected to stay well past South Korea’s contract.
“We’re talking to a number of other governments worldwide about buying additional aircranes and our operational fleet is getting busier and busier with worldwide contracts,” said Mills. “We anticipate these jobs will be permanent.”
While Erickson did have a rough year in 2016 resulting in major layoffs at the Central Point facility, Mills says the company has gone through restructuring since April and have come under new ownership. The company has since been able to rehire 40 employees, previously laid off, for production on another South Korean S-64, K6, which had been destroyed in a crash.
The aircranes, known as K7 and K8, will be added to South Korea’s fire fighting fleet which has previously purchased four S-64s. These new ones and the K6 however, will be equipped with the company’s latest composite rotor blade design. Using Kevlar rather than metal for the main blades, Mills says it will improve the overall performance of the aircraft.
“It will add performance and a lot less maintenance to the aircrane going forward. It’s an exciting development to the aircraft, it will only enhance it’s capability.”
Erickson doesn’t have specific numbers on how many S-64s they will produce this year but with an increase of wild fires, especially after this year, the company doesn’t expect to be slowing down soon.
“We have aircraft in Chile right now for their firefighting seasons and our construction division has gotten busier and busier, so 2018 is shaping up to be a very good year for the company.”
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.