Raising the Bar for Tiered Suppliers

Hartwig and Modig partnered with B&B Airparts to bring a new company vision to life

The Customer

B&B Airparts is a privately-owned tiered supplier with a long history of serving the aerospace sector. Founded in 1998, the company started out as a sheet metal fabricator, adding additional capabilities to serve its customers as they gained traction in the industry. In 2015, B&B underwent a leadership transition and experienced a period of rapid growth, tripling in size in just over eight years. The company’s vision was bigger and bolder than ever, and they knew they needed to find partners to help them bring it to fruition.

Growing Into a New Organizational Philosophy… and Larger Parts

In the early days at B&B Airparts, the company maintained a focus on producing only a few product lines for a small set of prime customers—meaning that a large portion of the company’s revenue depended on the continued success of these customers. Leadership at B&B decided that they needed to diversify their offerings by expanding their capabilities and markets to ensure the company’s future security. 

In early 2016, B&B began bringing more machining in house, adding a 40,000 square-foot expansion and more small 5-axis machines. In 2019, growth efforts continued with another 54,000 square foot expansion to provide complex large assembly services and large 5-axis machining capabilities, making B&B a one-stop-shop for customers. With the rise of just-in-time inventory models, this unique combination of capabilities presented many advantages to B&B’s customers—in terms of cost, turnaround times, and quality of work. 

With its new service offerings bringing in more business, the demand for ever-larger parts continued to grow, especially in the aerospace, defense, and transportation sectors. To capture more of this business and serve customers better, B&B knew it needed to level up again with larger machining platforms. Dan Barnard, company president and CEO, and Chad Tharp, Director of Product Management, began looking for partners who could advise them on their next phase of growth.

Finding a Solution with Hartwig and Modig 

Dan and Chad connected with Scott Wyatt, Vice President of Hartwig Innovative Technologies, and Kelly Poe, a sales engineer at Hartwig Inc., to discuss their needs. B&B saw the market for larger-scale bar extrusions requiring multi-axis machining growing consistently. These parts are in high demand in the aerospace and transportation sectors, especially as components for light rail systems. This transportation mode is resurging in popularity as a solution for big cities to relieve congested highways and overtaxed busing systems.

Scott recommended Modig Machine Tool’s HHV line of universal machining centers as a perfect solution for B&B’s needs because it is ideally suited for short, repetitive runs, nesting, and high volume production of bar or extrusion components. Modig developed its HHV (Horizontal High Velocity) in close cooperation with several leading aircraft manufacturers. Since its introduction, it has become the top choice for many OEMs and tier 1 suppliers.

As the exclusive distributor for Modig in the region, Hartwig provides preventive maintenance, training, service, and support, bringing even more value to the table for B&B than their previous machine suppliers had offered.

“When we started, we went with more inexpensive equipment, Chad recalled. Equipment always gets wear and tear and needs service, so we knew that going forward, we’d need more support. Hartwig was excited by the opportunity to partner with us, and that’s what we’re all about.”

With Modig’s North American headquarters soon to open in Wichita, Kansas, the partnership also presented other advantages to Modig and B&B. Once the new headquarters is up and running, B&B’s team will be able to use the Modig facility as an additional resource for research and development projects or time studies—giving Dan and Chad the ability to push innovation while allowing production at B&B to continue seamlessly. B&B’s facility would also be available to Modig customers and potential customers who want to see Modig machines in action.

Big Machines, Big Capabilities, and Big Potential

The support and collaboration from Hartwig and Modig gave B&B the confidence to proceed with its commitment to purchase six Modig HHV series machines. Scott and Kelly from Hartwig as well as Keith Lopez, President of Modig North America, also sat down with Chad and Dan to analyze their upcoming quotes to ensure the machines would satisfy all B&B’s needed capabilities. 

“We want equipment that’s fast and can hold tight tolerances,” Chad said. “These are premium machines with specialized processes that you usually only see in OEM or major Tier 1 facilities…but there’s a big need for these larger extrusions, and there aren’t a lot of shops out there that can do it. Now, we can.”

The initial six Modig machines will be up and running at B&B in early 2021. Chad and Dan plan to eventually have 18 Modig machines up and running in their latest expansion. 

Hartwig and Modig are both proud to support B&B in their continued growth. The solid partnership between all three organizations has laid the groundwork for success. 

“Everything has been positive so far,” said Chad. “Open communication and the ability to adapt on the fly is there on all sides. We’re excited to see where the next few years take us together.”

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