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September 03. 2013 8:01PM

Laconia aerospace firm looking to add 80 jobs

LACONIA — Titeflex, an aerospace company, plans to expand its workforce by at least 80 jobs within the next two years, a top executive said Wednesday.

The company is looking at various options, but the “front-runner would involve expansion locally,” General Manager Graham Thomson said Tuesday.

Thomson said he expects the company to grow by “at least 25 percent within a two-year period.”

The company, a subsidiary of Smiths Group in London, employs 335 workers at its Lexington Drive location. It has supplied metal hoses to space shuttles and the international space station, and its current offerings include making air return hoses for engines on Boeing 737 jets.

On Tuesday, company officials gave U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a tour and shared their concerns.

In a private meeting, company officials discussed several issues they had with the federal government.

Chris Swonger, senior vice president of government relations for Smiths Group, said rules that would allow U.S. companies to operate foreign repair stations for aircraft are stuck at the federal Office of Management and Budget.

He said meetings such as the one with Ayotte allows company officials to inform legislators of issues affecting their businesses in hopes that problems can be fixed.

Ayotte said afterward that she was going to look into the OMB holdup regarding the foreign repair stations.

Thomson said his company repairs parts from aircraft, and that about 40 percent of that business involves Asian airlines. Those parts must now be flown to the United States, costing a week’s time.

“It’s part of a growth strategy and part of a protection strategy over time,” he said.

About 25 percent of its overall business comes from government work, either directly or acting as subcontractors to companies, including General Electric.

While addressing about a dozen workers, Ayotte said company officials also mentioned concerns over the federal health care law and corporate tax rates.

She said she visits businesses to see what worries they have with the hope “we can create a better climate” in Washington to generate more new jobs in New Hampshire.



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