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World Leader in Aviation Plastics

Vantage Plane Plastics in Alva, Okla., is the world’s leader in after-market general aviation interior and exterior plastics.
World Leader in Aviation Plastics

World Leader in Aviation Plastics

For more information visit these links:

Vantage Plane Plastics

Northwest Technology Center - Alva

Pioneer Technology Center


Show Details

Show 1708: World Leader in Aviation Plastics
Air Date: February 19, 2017



Rob McClendon: Well, aerospace contributes about $190 million in state and local taxes annually, and that is not just in the metro areas. Our Austin Moore takes us to the wide-open spaces of northwest Oklahoma.

Austin Moore: Perched at the end of Alva’s Municipal Airport, this simple metal building holds one of Oklahoma’s more remarkable secrets.

Mark Seaver: We are the world’s leader in after-market, general aviation interior and exterior plastics.

Austin: Mark Seaver is the general manager for Vantage Plane Plastics, where they produce parts for an enormous number of small planes.

Seaver: These racks hold the 3,500 different PMA parts and tools that we have today. The Mooneys, the Beeches, the Pipers, Grummans, Helios, Commander, Lear Jet. The smaller airplanes. The personal airplanes.

Austin: What you find on these shelves are not the parts themselves, but rather molds that will be used to form the parts as they are ordered. Airplanes are regulated differently than other forms of transportation. So each of these 3,500 part molds requires part manufacturer approval from the FAA.

Seaver: We build a mold to match that part. Prepare the data for the FAA, the engineering data. That process could take anywhere from 90 days to two years. It just depends on how fast you can get it through the FAA.

Austin: Despite these hurdles, the sheer variety of personal planes flying today creates ongoing opportunities for Vantage.

Seaver: There is 50 years of airplanes that have been built that I would have to look at every single model to see whether or not my parts fit. So there is a lot to be had. We continue to look for growth. We continue to look for parts that we are not producing today, and the demand that is out there.

Austin: But with a shrinking number of general aviators creating his market, Seaver elevates the import of innovation.

Seaver: If we can keep the cost at a low cost or drop the cost because we have innovated, then that just enables us to get those parts to those customers at the right price so that ultimately you can help grow the industry.

Austin: One way to do that, in an area where workforce can be quickly thinned out by the ebbs and flows of the oil and natural gas sector, is using the lean manufacturing principles of the Toyota production system. These focus on reducing waste, increasing value and continuous improvement. It also means that Vantage now operates with a smaller, better trained, more experienced workforce that is more stable.

Seaver: We’ve been at a peak of 58, probably six or seven years ago. Today the 22 that we have are producing the revenue volume that were being produced by the 58 originally. The experience level has a lot to do with it. Keeping your turnover rate low. And gaining experience along with the lean applications.

Austin: Seaver also credits his neighborhood.

Seaver: I think it is the general attitude of Alva that they are very supportive of the businesses that are here and that look to come here. From Northwest Technology Center, all of our safety training and any of our other classes that I might require, they take care of the training for us. Pioneer has done some scanning capability for me out of Ponca City. To Northwestern. To the leaders within the community. To the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance enabling some of the stuff that we do.

Austin: And that stuff is exceptional. The kind of business Oklahomans would gladly brag about, if they only knew it was here.

Seaver: This is kind of a diamond in northwest Oklahoma. Like somebody said, it is not often you find the world’s leader in aviation sitting in the corner of Oklahoma building parts. They just don’t know it is there.

Rob McClendon: Well, average wages in aerospace are well above the state average. Take a look at these numbers. Aerospace engineers top the list with an average salary of $88,900. Now, engineering and operation technicians follow at $68,600. Avionics technicians’ average salaries come in at $52,500, while mechanics and service technicians average right at $50,000 annually.