By SHERIDAN ROY
Connecticut Tool & Manufacturing, a Plainville branch of Whitcraft, LLC, was visited by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on July 2. The local branch is responsible for the production of flight safety parts, complex assemblies and prepackaged kits for military and commercial engines for Pratt & Whitney, GE, Sikorsky, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce and several other industry leaders.
“Sen. Blumenthal is a tireless supporter of a lot of programs that are very important to us here at Connecticut Tool & Manufacturing, important to Whitcraft, LLC and important to the whole Connecticut supply base,” said co-executive chairman of Connecticut Tool & Manufacturing Colin Cooper. “He’s been a big advocate for us and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to show him what we’re doing here.”
Whitcraft, LLC operates nine facilities—six in Connecticut, one in Massachusetts, one in New Hampshire and one in Arizona. The company has expanded significantly, now employing over 650 people, as several of their operations are recent acquisitions from within the last few years.
“What you do is so critical to our nation, and I hope you do know it,” Blumenthal told employees. “We would not have the air superiority in the world that we do today if it were not for the work you do here.”
Blumenthal said he feels the nation is at a crucial stage with aerospace manufacturing, and that Connecticut could be the world’s aerospace supplier.
“I am so hopeful and optimistic about the future for aerospace in this state,” he said. “It comes back to the people in this room—smart, skilled people, dedicated to what they do.”
Whitcraft LLC faces increasing competition and pressure both domestically and worldwide.
“What we’re seeing in the last ten years is emerging competition from low cost regions,” said Cooper. “If you go to an air show, you see thousands of suppliers there from all sorts of places—Mexico, Poland, Turkey, China—and they all want our work, so it’s a very competitive worldwide market.”
Workforce is another challenge, as highly skilled work force is not affordable, Cooper said. Blumenthal pointed out many manufacturers have worked for life and are now retiring, leaving holes to fill. Whitcraft combats the issue by offering training programs for employees. Many employees at Connecticut Tool & Manufacturing are young men.
“One of the reasons we’re all here in Connecticut is because we’ve got a great workforce here, skilled and innovative,” said Cooper. “People here come in every morning and want to make the place better by the time they leave at the end of the day. They have relentless focus for continuous improvement.”
Blumenthal thanked employees of Whitcraft for their work that in turn supports the nation’s military and strengthens national security.
“What you do is every bit as important as the men and women on the front lines. Thank you for making me proud to be able to advocate for you,” he said. “A lot of other countries are at our heels, and they don’t have to worry about a senator approving their defense budget. We need to continue this commitment to our national defense, and not be complacent.”
Blumenthal’s recent vote in support of the national defense authorization act provides essential funding to boost jobs and support critical industries with defense contracts in the state.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.