By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The jet recycler at Tupelo Regional Airport is working on 16 planes as of Friday.
Keri Wright, chief operating officer of Universal Asset Management, said three planes arrived last week in Tupelo. It was the busiest week the company has had in the nine months it’s been operating in Tupelo, she said. Another 13 planes are expected in the next six months.
The comments came during Wright’s presentation at the Community Development Foundation’s First Friday event at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.
She played a lively trivia game with the early morning crowd, asking them questions such as who previously owned some of the planes. Winners with the right answers – Lufthansa, United, Air China, Fly White, Japan Airlines – got their pick of items salvaged from the planes. Major Jack Reed was one of the winners. His selection? A red bullhorn.
Wright spent the majority of her time explaining what the company does and how Tupelo fits in with its plans. UAM is a global company with several lines of business. The Tupelo operations represent the disassembly service where UAM buys planes and breaks them down for parts. UAM is seeing more plane availability now, she said, because demand has fallen for airline capacity and carriers are finding that their planes are worth more for the parts.
UAM also has 450,000 square feet of warehouse space in Verona it uses to store parts that are sold to carriers and other clients.
“We send parts via courier to wherever in the world it needs to be,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important for us to be close to FedEx in Memphis.”
The parts have to be recertified before they can be put back on an aircraft, thus UAM’s emphasis on hiring employees that have airframe and powerplant mechanic certification. UAM also offers apprenticeships for workers with a diesel mechanic background.
All together, UAM has about 40 employees in Tupelo. Wright said the company wants to grow to 100 in the next two years. It also hopes to partner with a school to create a certification program in Tupelo.
The company currently is hiring A&P mechanics, inventory specialists, an office coordinator and a sales account manager. To apply, email your resume and contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UAM WANTS to get involved in the community.
COO Keri Wright said on Friday the company previously has done everything from sponsor golf tournaments to give away cars to graduates. She said UAM is looking for similar ways to give back and improve the community here.
She asked people with ideas and proposals to email them to her at email@example.com.
We live-blogged Keri Wright’s presentation on our website. Click here for more at the Biz Buzz blog.