Carl Harding, general site manager at UTC Aerospace Systems, and Wilson Public Works Director Bryant Bunn cut the ribbon Thursday on a walking track near the Airport Drive facility.
Brie Handgraaf | Times
By Brie Handgraaf
Times Staff Writer
A local manufacturing facility kicked off the company’s centennial celebration Thursday with the unveiling of a walking track for employees and residents.
“We’re excited to celebrate 100 years of what we’ve done with innovation and technology for fire protection,” said Carl Harding, general manager for UTC Aerospace Systems on Airport Drive. “We’re excited for the 100 years to come.”
Thursday’s ceremony marked 100 days until the 100th anniversary of Kidde Fire Protection Systems, a part of UTC Aerospace Systems. Many of the more than 700 employees attended the ceremony and walked a bit of the track before heading back to work.
The 0.4-mile track, which was completed with $6,000 worth of labor and materials from the city of Wilson, loops a parking lot across from the facility, and it was an idea from the plant’s employee resource group.
“Breaks, lunches, before work and after work: they can go out and use the track to get more exercise during working hours as well as before and after,” Harding said.
Harding said the track is only one example of the company’s commitment to employees at the 175,000 square-foot facility, which has been in operation since 1982. As part of an ongoing investment in the plant, many of the manufacturing stations have been switched to standing work spaces with ergonomic mats to help employees working to build fire detection and suppression products for commercial and military applications.
“UTC Aerospace Systems is actually an amazing company because it has products that go from the nose to the tail on the aviation side,” Harding explained. “Anywhere on any plane that is flying, you have a UTC Aerospace Systems product. We do landing gears, we do air management systems, fuel controls, all the components that support the engine as well as the fire suppression systems.
“So anywhere from the nose to the tail, you’re dealing with a plethora of products. We have (about 150) sites globally, so you have the opportunity to work in any culture, at any pace and in any environment you want to make products that you will see in the air at any given time.”
The plant recently underwent some construction to accommodate the production of a new glass-encased fire wire that previously was manufactured overseas. The Wilson facility also is undergoing some shuffling of manufacturing lines to improve efficiency and employee safety.
“We’re continuing to invest in the site and improve the manufacturing process,” said Al Killeffer, public relations manager for UTC Aerospace Systems.
Another ceremony will be held in October for the centennial celebration. Harding said he’s proud to work for a company specializing in products big and small that make a difference.
“The whole idea that we manufacture products that save lives for every individual that travels anywhere is pretty awesome,” he said. “One of the funny product names is called a potty bottle because it is a lavatory extinguisher. If you go to the lavatory and smoke, the detector — that we produce — will go off. And if you decide to throw your cigarette in the trash, the potty bottle will automatically detect it and go off in the trash.
“We have a pretty full range of products that save lives on all different platforms.”
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