Businesses Rely on General Aviation

Posted: Updated:

The business community in Dubois County is dominated by a niche industry: furniture. Some of the county’s largest employers are furniture manufacturers, like Best Home Furnishings, Masterbrand Cabinets, Kimball International, and my business, OFS. Though our businesses have locations across the country, we all take advantage of Indiana’s manufacturing tradition. By basing large plants in smaller towns like Huntingburg, Jasper and Ferdinand, we promote economic development and job growth in these communities. 

For example, OFS was founded and has continued to call Huntingburg, a town of just over 6,000 people, home for over 80 years. We are one of the region's largest employers, with a workforce of over 1,800 people. Although it is often overlooked, the reason these and other manufacturing companies like mine are able to stay in this area is because of the resource of general aviation and our network of local public airports.

Having worked in this business for decades, I have grown to appreciate the value of face-face interactions. Even as it is becoming easier to conduct meetings, send proposals, and connect with customers through online platforms, a significant majority of our work is still done in person.  That is why general aviation is such a critical resource for OFS’ business growth.

Operating out of the Huntingburg Regional Airport, corporate aircraft are used by our dealers attending sales meetings, reviewing blueprints with our engineers and company principles visiting our locations around the country. We recently worked with the Indiana University's Athletic Department, which is about 75 miles from Huntingburg, to custom build product for their new student athlete facility. This deal required constant back-and-forth trips to Bloomington to showcase our process, products, and blueprints. We also needed to meet with them in person throughout the contract to fully understand their needs.

Without general aviation, we would not have been able to transport our engineers and designers to the site efficiently, costing both our company and the client time and money. Having the airport nearby allows us to communicate efficiently, take on multiple projects at once, and meet customer needs to the best of our ability.

The Huntingburg Regional Airport has also been crucial for our business when we host potential customers from all over the country...and world. We attract business managers from Fortune 500 companies in the insurance, banking, education, hospitality, and healthcare industries. Our corporate hangar showcases a line of our products that greet these business owners when they first step off their aircraft. We are then able to shuttle them over to our headquarters in town, where they see firsthand how our furniture is produced and meet with employees at every level of the company.

I hear from these customers day in and day out about how instrumental the airport is in deciding to do business with us. Without the airport, our business would have a fraction of the activity we currently have, and the community of Huntingburg would not host business leaders from across the country. This exposure also opens up Huntingburg to the rest of the country, as many of the visitors coming into Huntingburg Regional Airport spend their time and money at local restaurants, hotels, and attractions.

As a family owned business for four generations, our business has experienced so many changes since our founding in 1937, but our reliance on general aviation to reach those goals has stayed the same.

There may be a lot of discussion right now by those on K Street about 'infrastructure,' but for those of us here on Main Street, that means the  general aviation airports and aircraft that most people may not fly on, but depend on for their livelihood. Let's keep that in mind as these discussions move forward and make sure we recognize the value that local airports bring to our everyday life.

Hank Menke is the President & CEO of OFS.

  • Perspectives

    • Startup Spirit Fuels Growth

      As the South Bend - Elkhart Region celebrates a $42.4 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., we know that the work to make the best investment with it is really just beginning. The spirit of entrepreneurship has been a vibrant part of our region for decades and the story of our family company could be somewhat of a guidebook for the region as it ventures forward. ITAMCO began as a dream of my uncle Donald Neidig and my father Noble Neidig to have their own business.

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • The Waterside project aims to transform 100-acres of the former GM Stamping Plant site. (photo courtesy of Ambrose Property Group)

      Ambrose, Glick Partner on Waterside

      Indianapolis-based Ambrose Property Group has announced a key partnership for the redevelopment of the former GM Stamping Plant in downtown Indianapolis. The commercial real estate firm is teaming up with the Gene B. Glick Co. to build and manage apartments as part of the $1.4 billion mixed-use redevelopment project. Ambrose says the partnership is also part of plans to catalyze "philanthropic and community-centric strategies to strengthen Indianapolis." The firm also...

    • NIBCO is headquartered in Elkhart. (photo courtesy of NIBCO)

      Companies Detail Closures, Layoffs

      Four companies have announced plans to lay off a total of nearly 300 employees. In separate notices filed with the state, the companies say the moves will affect workers in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Charlestown and Peru.

    • (Rendering provided by the city of Fishers.)

      Flexware to Break Ground on Headquarters

      Fisher’s based engineering servicing firm, Flexware Innovation Inc., will break ground Thursday on its new headquarters the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater. The $3.5 million project will feature a 35,000-square-foot office building with 12,000-square feet of office space for Flexware and what it calls “a build-to-suit area” in the remaining space. 

    • (rendering courtesy of Brightmark Energy)

      Construction to Begin on Plastics-to-Fuel Plant

      California-based Brightmark Energy will today break ground on its $260 million plastics-to-fuel plant in the northeast Indiana town of Ashley. The 112,000-square-foot facility, which the company says will be the first of its kind in the nation, is expected to create 136 full-time jobs when fully operational. The plant will use a state-of-the-art process to recycle plastic waste that has reached the end of its useful life, including items that normally cannot be recycled, such as...

    • Photo courtesy of Lafayette Elementary School

      Hammond to Close Three Schools, to Cut Jobs

      The  School City of Hammond board has voted to close three schools and cut 130-150 positions. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report Columbia and Lafayette Elementary schools, and the Miller School will close after this school year.