A growing aircraft engine company brings job opportunities to skilled workers.
In Dallas County, there’s no business like small business to boost the local economy and create jobs—companies with fewer than 100 employees comprise 97 percent1 of the metropolitan area. And according to a 2016 study2, these small businesses drive nearly 30 percent of North Texas’s private-sector jobs.
Aircraft engine company BP Aero is one example of a successful small business creating jobs and supporting local workers with specialized skill sets. When the company launched amid the 2008 financial crisis, owner Dennis Walsh had just two employees: himself and his son Michael. Today, his team is 65 people strong—and growing.
Walsh and his son Michael started BP Aero from the ground up, with two years spent researching and collecting the necessary equipment. They worked with JPMorgan Chase for the loans that were necessary to grow the business. Their advisor also suggested they establish relationships with a CPA and contractor to help save money and scale more efficiently in a tough economy.
“[When we started] unemployment was terrible,” Walsh said, crediting support from Irving for giving him the green light for his facilities. “The city looked at our plans and thought we’d be a great fit. I’m talking 45 days to become operational.”
The company’s key growth period came at a pivotal time in the local economy among industry-wide issues—a widespread financial downturn, changes within aircraft maintenance that extended the time frame between repairs, and the relocation of work overseas. These concerns meant that many other repair-and-overhaul businesses were dwindling—and jettisoning employees quickly.
“That was a very conscious decision to recruit from returning vets. We felt we had an obligation to take care of our fellow citizens who protect and defend the country.”
Dennis Walsh, owner BP Aero
In contrast, BP Aero was able to provide critical job opportunities for employees who were downsized from other companies, including returning military personnel with experience in aircraft maintenance who might otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. Though the maintenance sector of the aircraft industry has been under stress for years, BP Aero continues to thrive with its current team of 65; revenue was $4 million in 2014 and $7 million in 2015. The organization is expected to grow by $3 million by the end of 2016 and will soon go international, having just received a license to operate in China.
As BP Aero expands, Chase has supported Walsh’s smart and strategic growth; each quarter, Chase and Walsh forecast the company’s potential for growth. Next up, a $5.28 million loan from Chase will help facilitate a 100,000-square-foot facility in Irving, which will help create approximately 150 additional local jobs.
Walsh is an example to other small business owners of how one person can help boost a local industry where skilled workers lack opportunity. His goal is to own all of his facilities while continuing to steadily grow, and with that comes exciting opportunities for the expanding BP Aero team.
“We faced tons of challenges and, looking back, we had an awful lot of fun,” Walsh said. “We’re able to offer another generation of A&P licensed mechanics a future that otherwise certainly would not have been available in this area.”