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Jet engine business in Berlin plans major expansion, solar farm

Kevin Budney, president of Budney Aerospace, one of Berlin’s bigger employers, discusses the company’s plans to construct an additional 60,000 square feet of production space as well as a solar array to provide about 80 percent of its power needs.

Written By Don Stacom, HARTFORD COURANT 10/11/2019

Budney Aerospace & Overhaul of Berlin plans to add a 60,000-square-foot building and a solar farm on the site of a former golf driving range on the Berlin Turnpike.

In announcing the expansion Friday, the company said it would hire another 30 to 60 workers – mostly in high-paying engineering and precision manufacturing jobs – over the next five years. It already has 190 employees and is hiring another 10 to 20 this year.

Town officials joined Budney executives to announce that the former Mountain-View golf driving range will be the centerpiece of a $12 million expansion of the company, which manufactures and overhauls components for commercial and military jet engines. Mayor Mark Kaczynski said it’s rewarding to see the company, which began in Berlin more than a half century ago, decide to invest heavily in town.

“The nice thing is this company is locally owned and run, with 200 people who’ve created careers right here in the center of Connecticut,” said Chris Edge, Berlin’s economic development director.

After building a 10,000-square-foot addition to its original New Park Drive building last year, the company is already at full capacity again, Chief Operating Officer Emir Redzic said. It bought the adjacent 11-acre driving range in April for $600,000 and has developed plans to add a new manufacturing building, creating what Edge called a high-tech aerospace campus.

Redzic and President Kevin Budney said the larger space will enable the company to build and overhaul more components for existing clients as well as components for larger engines, potentially bringing in new clients. Budney Aerospace already produces sub-assemblies and does overhaul work for manufacturers such as Rolls Royce, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney and GE-Aviation.

“For years, we were in the smaller to mid-size turbine engine market, 50-inch fan frame. Now we’re gong to the next step, 100-inch,” Budney said.

Redzic said despite Connecticut being a high-cost state, aerospace manufacturers are drawn to do business here because high-precision work requires an experienced and talented workforce. Also, the network of more than 100 related businesses along the I-91 corridor enable major engine overhaul to be done efficiently by a series of companies with rare specialties and niches.

“Customers see the buildings and they see the equipment and they think that’s our best asset, but I always remind them it’s really the labor force,” Redzic said. “And if you drive down I-91, the Aerospace Alley in Connecticut, you can build an entire jet engine.”

Budney manufactures and overhauls parts of engines used in airliners, military jets, military helicopters and even some tanks. It will use a large part of the old driving course for a solar energy farm, and hopes to generate as much as 80 percent of the power the manufacturing plants require.

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