SC Aerospace Advisory Board

SC Aerospace is led by a private-sector advisory board with representatives from small to large aerospace-related firms from across the state. 

advisory board

SC AEROSPACE CHAIRMAN
Steve Townes, President and CEO
Ranger Aerospace

Mr. Townes, a well-known entrepreneur in the aerospace services arena, is President, CEO and a Director of Ranger Aerospace, the company that he founded in early 1997. Townes’ diverse background spans three decades in the commercial, corporate, and military aviation industry. Before going independent with Ranger Aerospace in 1997, he was previously Vice Chairman, and earlier President, of Sabreliner Corporation’s heavy aircraft services divisions. Townes was Executive Vice President of Stevens Aviation, a $115 million multi-city aviation services chain which more than doubled in size and made two acquisitions while Townes was its chief operations, marketing and technical services officer.
Townes has also been Vice President of Major Programs and Marketing of the Dee Howard Aerospace Corporation, as well as a Program Leader and Marketing Leader in LTV Aerospace and Defense. Townes is an engineering graduate of West Point. Steve earned the coveted Eisenhower Award upon graduation there. He also holds an MBA from Long Island University and completed the PMD program at Harvard Business School. Steve named his company in honor of special operations forces, where he also has personal heritage. He served in the 1st/75th Ranger Battalion as a young airborne infantry officer, and graduated #1 from the Army’s Ranger School.


Advisory Board Members

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Hunter Dalton
Executive VP of Strategic Growth Initiatives
President of ATI Specialty Materials 
 ATI

Over 30 years of experience in aerospace specialty materials manufacturing with ATI in leadership positions encompassing engineering, global procurement, operations management, domestic US and international sales and commercial executive for aero engine and airframe markets as well as overall business P&L responsibilities.
Aerospace is a technology based industry. The aerospace “mentality” has always been focused on absolute quality and performance.   The aerospace industry is dynamic and constantly evolving to improve mankind’s ability to fly – safely and efficiently.


Don Erickson
Greenville Site Director
Lockheed Martin 

Don Erickson is the Site Director at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Greenville where he is responsible for all activities associated with aircraft modification, maintenance, repair, overhaul (MMRO) and final assembly services, and company management system (CMS) compliance. The Greenville site provides complex aircraft modifications, maintenance, mission system and technical upgrades. The facility comprises 276 acres with 16 hangars, support shops and warehouse space. The customer base includes the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, Homeland Security and multiple International operators.

Prior to his appointment as Site Director in February 2012, Mr. Erickson was the Site Integrator, responsible for overseeing all aspects of Quality and Mission Success, Supply Chain Management, Process and Technical Integrity, Facilities, and Environmental, Safety and Health (ESH) functional organizations at the Greenville site.

Mr. Erickson joined Lockheed Martin in 1991 after 12 years supporting MMRO activities with a commercial airline. During the past 22 years, he has held a variety of technical and leadership positions supporting system integration and the sustainment of a broad range of commercial and military aircraft. In 1998, he served as the Project Manager for the Greenville SAP/ERP implementation successfully executing three separate releases as part of the company’s Y2K transition. In 2008, he accepted a rotational corporate assignment as the Ethics Officer for Sustainment Services supporting operations at Greenville, Kelly Aviation Center in San Antonio and multiple Field Team Sites throughout the world.

Mr. Erickson holds a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is married to Sue Erickson and has a daughter and son.

 

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Darren Sekiguchi
Boeing

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Jason Premo
Chairman             
Premo Ventures

Jason started his career in aerospace as a design engineer and grew to successive roles in production management before working with private equity firms as a turnaround executive. In 2007, Jason co-founded and was CEO of ADEX Machining Technologies, a manufacturer of precision 5-axis machined components for Boeing, GE Aviation, NASA, etc.. Jason left ADEX in 2014 and now leads Premo Ventures, a private equity group based in Greenville, South Carolina which acquires and modernizes small manufacturers to transform into aerospace capable. He is also active in innovation activities and is an Angel Investor in high-tech startups.

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Jason Marlin
President                                 
Champion  Aerospace

With 15 years of experience in the aerospace industry, Jason Marlin brings extensive first hand aerospace manufacturing experience to the SC Aerospace Advisory Board. Jason is the President of Champion Aerospace, which is located in Liberty, SC, and has held Director level positions at aerospace companies located in the New York, Chicago and Philadelphia areas. He has a passion for aviation, technology and personnel development.
Like many children, I was always amazed with the power of flight and had a desire to be part of it. The aerospace industry is a growth industry that embraces new technologies, which made it a great opportunity for professional growth.

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Stan Griffs
Director of Operations
RBC AeroStructures

Stan Griffs received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1994 from Clemson University. He has been in manufacturing for over 20 years. For the last 8 years, he has been the Director of RBC AeroStructures which manufactures control rods and swaged tubes for the commercial and military markets. In 2014, he relocated his facility from Georgia.
Aerospace is a technically challenging field. The concept of seeing your product flying around the world, supporting the US military across the globe, and ultimately touching the lives of billions of people makes for a very rewarding career. It’s also a fast growing, secure field of work that will be in demand for years to come.

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Bill Beard
VP & General Manager  
GKN Aerospace

A native of North Augusta, South Carolina, Bill enlisted in the Navy immediately following graduation from high school in 1977 serving 20 years on active duty, flying in and maintaining, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft around the globe.  Bill’s 18 year post-Navy career includes experience leading programs and operations involved in systems integration, aircraft modification, maintenance services, and component, assembly and systems manufacturing. Bill holds a MBA from Baylor University and a Bachelor’s degree in Business from New Hampshire College.
Early memories of mine include trips to Busch Field in Augusta, Georgia watching aircraft take off and land. Aerospace was a highly desired career choice in the 1970s with new aircraft and discoveries routinely in the news.  A fascination with aircraft fostered by my father’s service in Marine Corps aviation lit the spark that led me to the recruiter’s office, and what has become a very rewarding and satisfying career as an flight crew member, maintainer, modifier, and manufacturer in the aerospace industry.

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Paul Witt
VP of Mobile Services
Constant Aviation

I’ve been in the corporate aviation field for 23 years. My Career started with Cessna Citation in Greensboro North Carolina, where I worked my way up from a technician on the shop floor to General Manager of the facility. I continued my career at Stevens Aviation in Greenville South Carolina as Executive Vice President of Operations. 
Recently, I left Stevens Aviation to accept a role with Constant Aviation. My role with Constant aviation is Vice President of Mobile Services. In this role, I will be responsible for the mobile repair teams that are stationed around the country and the growth of the business. Constant Aviation is new to South Carolina and has opened an office at the Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU).

 

Mike Hutcheson
ISC Site Director
Honeywell Aerospace

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Rebecca Ufkes
President               
UEC Electronics

I began my career as an engineer with Kaman Aerospace on the V-22 Osprey prototype program and eventually transitioning to Sikorsky Aircraft to develop composite manufacturability and affordability cost models and strategies. I moved to South Carolina in 1990 and started a consulting business specializing in cost modeling development– primary customers were GE Aircraft Engines, Boeing, Lockheed, and Pratt & Whitney. I then became Co-founder and President of UEC Electronics which provides product development and lean manufacturing services to Aerospace, Defense and Industrial OEMs and Tier 1 companies.
It is an exciting and technically fascinating industry in both the commercial and defense sectors. I accepted a job offer from Kaman Aerospace right out of college and have remained engaged ever since. My husband is a private pilot and we enjoy flying, as well as airplanes and airshows.

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Jerry Ellison
President                       
JBE, Inc.

I began my career as an engineer with Kaman Aerospace on the V-22 Osprey prototype program and eventually transitioning to Sikorsky Aircraft to develop composite manufacturability and affordability cost models and strategies. I moved to South Carolina in 1990 and started a consulting business specializing in cost modeling development– primary customers were GE Aircraft Engines, Boeing, Lockheed, and Pratt & Whitney. I then became Co-founder and President of UEC Electronics which provides product development and lean manufacturing services to Aerospace, Defense and Industrial OEMs and Tier 1 companies.
It is an exciting and technically fascinating industry in both the commercial and defense sectors. I accepted a job offer from Kaman Aerospace right out of college and have remained engaged ever since. My husband is a private pilot and we enjoy flying, as well as airplanes and airshows.

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Ian Williams
VP/General Manager
TIGHITCO

I have worked in Aerospace since 1987 starting as an Airframe mechanic progressing through to upper management for the last 15 years. I have been fortunate enough to work in Europe for many years and more recently, the US. I have always found Aerospace to be an interesting area to be involved with and as a child was fascinated by Airplanes.

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John Miller
Director of Business Development 
JBE, Inc.

John has a 20 year business background in healthcare and manufacturing and is a South Carolina native. He is responsible for bringing aerospace work to JBE and adding a location in the Charleston, SC area to support the Boeing plant in 2014.
Man’s desire to fly fascinates me and I want to work in a field where we are making this desire a reality with cutting edge technology.

Steve Prout_Solar Atmospheres

 

Steve Prout
President        
Solar Atmospheres

Steve Prout joined Solar Atmospheres in the Fall of 2013 to establish Solar’s newest vacuum heat treating facility in Greenville, South Carolina.  This facility gained Nadcap (National Aerospace and Defense Accreditation Program) accreditation within 90 days of start-up in September, 2015 and AS9100 approval shortly thereafter.   Solar specializes in vacuum heat treatments and is capable of supporting research and development activity through large scale production. Solar also operates a 24 foot long vacuum furnace in the Greenville facility, the largest vacuum furnace in the US Southeast.

Steve started his career in commercial heat treating and brazing in 1996 and has held a variety of positions in the heat treating world before coming to Solar.  These roles include Production Manager, Plant Manager, Business Development Manager, and General Manager for organizations such as Paulo Products Company, Bluewater Thermal Solutions and Bodycote.  Steve is a member of the ASM International, the Metal Treating Institute and serves on the Business Advisory Board for his alma mater Bryan College in Dayton, TN as well as serving on the Board for Coldstream Christian Camp in Adams, TN.

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Mike Leatherwood
Owner/President
Leatherwood Manufacturing

My Aerospace career started out when I joined the US Air Force back in 1960. It was not a tough choice to become involved in manufacturing of tooling and parts for various aircraft and support equipment for both military and commercial aviation. With my enjoyment of building things, I founded Leatherwood Manufacturing in 1986. It has been most enjoyable in working with the US Military in building aviation products such as US Navy Aircraft component parts and Launch and Recovery Equipment for Navy Aircraft Carriers.
In 2005, Leatherwood got the opportunity to enter into a new field of manufacturing and assembly of Commerical Aircraft Components and Assemblies and we continue to build on these programs today. My experience in the Aerospace Business has been very enjoyable and rewarding.

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Vida Butler
President and General Manager
Venture Aerobearings

In January 2014, I was appointed President & General Manager, at Venture Aerobearings a GE Aviation/SKF Joint Venture facility. I joined GE Aviation in 2007 and have held a number of roles in both supply chain and the commercial realm. Prior to joining GE Aviation, I worked for Ford Motor Company for 10 years, in various roles within both Manufacturing and Product Design Engineering, and Sourcing.
I initially got into the aerospace industry because it was one of the most diverse industries when it comes to career opportunities. Now, it’s all about doing what I love and what I’m passionate about.

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Paul McDowell
General Manager             
Labinal

Mr. McDowell joined Labinal Power Systems in 2002 and has held several positions of progressive responsibility. Prior to his appointment as General Manager, he was Operations Manager for Labinal Services from 2012 to 2014 and Program Manager at Labinal Services Wichita, Kansas from 2009 to 2012. During his tenure as Operations Manager, Mr. McDowell oversaw the growth of the Labinal Services Center in Charleston, SC. Prior to joining Labinal, McDowell worked with Bombardier Aerospace for 16 years in a variety of engineering roles on programs including Learjet45 Business Jet, CRJ Regional Jet and Tucano Military Trainer.

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Paul Kumler
President           
KTM Engineering

Paul V. Kumler has over 30 years engineering and senior management experience. Mr. Kumler spend the majority of his career in the aircraft industry with experiences at Cessna Aircraft , The Boeing Company, and Lockheed Martin. He currently serves as president of KTM Solutions, Inc, an engineering services company he founded in April 2005. Mr. Kumler received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University. He also completed several graduate engineering courses at Wichita State University. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of South Carolina. Outside of the office, Mr. Kumler participates in numerous volunteer activities, primarily through his church. Mr. Kumler married and the proud parent of a son and daughter who are currently pursuing their own career paths. Mr. and Mrs. Kumler currently live in Simpsonville, South Carolina.

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Todd Sharpley
General Manager         
GKN Aerospace

Growing up in South Carolina, Todd was always fascinated with air and space operations.  A native of the Midlands in South Carolina, he received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina.  After graduation, Todd joined KryoTech, a pioneer and manufacturer of semiconductor test equipment, as resident Mechanical Engineer in Singapore.  Todd’s early career in engineering led to operations management and he obtained a MBA from Emory University in 2011.  At Parker Aerospace, he served as Division Operations Strategy Manager over 5 sites for the Stratoflex Division.  South Carolina’s aerospace manufacturing environment prompted his return to the Midlands where he moved to GKN Aerospace to lead the construction and start up of GKN’s state of the art manufacturing facility in Orangeburg South Carolina.  Manufacturing the leading edge of the engine nacelle for the Boeing 737 MAX and 777X, Todd is now General Manager for GKN Lip Skins in South Carolina.