Triumph Group will establish the Thermal Solutions Development Center at their existing facility in West Hartford.
By Ronni Newton
Triumph Group, Inc. announced Monday that the decision has been made to establish a new, state-of-the art Thermal Solutions Development Center in West Hartford, where the company already employees roughly 400 people at the Triumph Systems Electronics and Controls facility at 1 Charter Oak Boulevard.
To facilitate the plan to expand the West Hartford operations – and to ensure the company’s long-term viability in the state –town officials and state legislators worked closely with Gov. Ned Lamont and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to support a much-needed upgrade to the power infrastructure at the West Hartford plant.
West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor said that more than a year ago she and Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorski toured the Triumph facility, and learned that they had major concerns about their energy costs and the demands on their aged power systems.
Cantor said leadership of Triumph told her, “We can’t keep operating the way it’s functioning,” and for various reasons energy-saving options like solar were not workable solutions.
There was a strong possibility that Triumph, which in 2015 acquired Fairchild Controls and relocated that product line to West Hartford, might leave the state altogether, perhaps relocating to North Carolina. Fairchild Controls is a leading designer and manufacturer of vapor cycle based thermal systems and solutions, and according to Triumph their desired plan was to revitalize “the business across all facets including engineering capabilities and development, new product lines, and lean manufacturing processes.”
In a facility that occupies several hundred thousand square feet in West Hartford, Triumph Systems, Electronics and Controls “designs, develops, manufactures, repairs, and overhauls a broad portfolio of aerospace and defense components, accessories, subassemblies, systems, and aircraft thermal management systems,” partnering with original equipment managers as well as operators of various types of aircraft worldwide.
“There would be 400 jobs gone,” Cantor said, and that’s just in West Hartford where the sprawling plant would be left behind, vacant and contaminated, and there would be a ripple effect locally and beyond. Triumph also has a location in Windsor and currently has roughly 580 employees in the state, and with the expansion of operations in West Hartford is expected to add about 50 more.
A deal was ultimately reached to provide Triumph with a combination of low interest/forgivable loans through DECD and Connecticut Innovations – tied to performance – and sales and use tax exemptions to assist the company make a needed investment of roughly $12 million to upgrade the power system which will allow them to not only continue to operate the West Hartford plant but also to expand and invest in vital machinery and equipment.
“Triumph is excited to announce the opening of our new Thermal Solutions Development Center, a key milestone in the development of our industry leading thermal capabilities. This lab will provide a vital service to our growing customer base as it allows for the complete test and performance mapping of new thermal products and system solutions,” Justin Wolfanger, president of Triumph Systems, Electronics and Controls, said in a statement. “We are increasingly engaged with the development of new thermal system solutions with key customers and partners such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Sikorsky, Bell, and General Atomics,” he said.
“Triumph has seen incredible growth at the West Hartford facility, which reaffirms their position as a top-tier aerospace company. The realization of the Thermal Solutions Development Center and related power infrastructure upgrades will only strengthen their capabilities,” said Gorski.
“As one of the town’s top employers, we are thrilled that the reinvestments made into the facility will help to retain and increase in-demand jobs and build careers in our community, specifically in the areas of advanced manufacturing and engineering. The town is proud to have Triumph’s world-class production facility continuing to grow here in West Hartford.”
According to the company’s announcement, “[t]he opening of the Thermal Solutions Development Center is further evidence of Triumph expanding on their already extensive thermal capabilities. This includes complete thermal management system solutions built around Triumph’s core intellectual property in vapor cycle compressors, both rotary and twin-screw types, ranging from 1kW to more than 300kW cooling capacities.”
West Hartford legislators were instrumental in lobbying for assistance for Triumph.
“They are so important to West Hartford, to Connecticut,” said state Sen. Derek Slap, who recently visited the Triumph facility with state Rep. Kate Farrar. Many people are familiar with the business because of its location right next to the Goodrich soccer fields and across from Sterling Field, and near Home Depot, but don’t really understand the extent of the operations at the plant, he said.
Once Triumph completes the expansion, “there will be more than 600 high quality jobs – exactly the type of job Connecticut wants,” Slap said. “This is really good news not only for West Hartford but for the stat to keep the jobs.”
While the operation has changed ownership several times – Triumph purchased United Technologies subsidiary Goodrich Pump and Engine in 2013, and before that it was the Chandler Evans Division of Coltec – the site “has been a leading manufacturer in the Town of West Hartford for decades,” said Farrar.
“I was happy to work with Derek [Slap], the mayor, and the governor to make sure we work together to invest in the future development, to create and grow so many good jobs,” Farrar said. This was a great example of “us stepping up as a state” to retain Triumph.
“Connecticut is a leader in aerospace manufacturing and precision engineering, and my administration is committed to expanding this strategic sector,” said Lamont in a statement. “Triumph has been part of Connecticut’s manufacturing industry for generations, and I am thrilled by their decision to invest and grow here.”
Slap noted that while many people think state legislators are involved primarily with considering bills, “a lot of what we do is not just about passing legislation,” but also includes advocating for businesses and residents in the community. “This was a good team effort that will benefit the town for decades,” he said.
“This was a no-brainer for us,” said Slap. “And kudos to the Lamont administration,” he added, for supporting it.
Dallas Dodge, in his role as managing partner of government relations firm Roy & Leroy, also helped facilitate the support for Triumph. “They were having serious power issues at the plant,” he said, and this deal shows the commitment of the state to help with the power problem and further important investment.
“This is a huge deal for [Triumph], but more significantly it makes the West Hartford facility more important to the parent company,” said Dodge. Triumph, which is headquartered in Radnor, Pennsylvania, and “serves the global aviation industry, including original equipment manufacturers and the full spectrum of military and commercial aircraft operators,” the announcement states.
“Connecticut is a worldwide center of innovation in aerospace manufacturing, and we want to help our existing companies grow,” DECD Commissioner-Designate Dan O’Keefe said in a statement. “This is an example of how DECD is working with strategic sectors to help innovative companies like Triumph expand and succeed in Connecticut.”
For more information about Triumph, visit the company’s website at www.triumphgroup.com.
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