Jet recycler to bring in more planes

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

VERONA – Steve Manley, the CEO of Universal Asset Management, spent his vacation day hauling several tons of aircraft parts from Arkansas to his company’s new warehouse in the Tupelo Lee Industrial Park South.
“I do what needs to be done, even sweep if I have to,” he said as the trailer was unloaded in the 450,000-square-foot warehouse that once was used by International Paper.
Earlier this year, Memphis-based UAM said it was shifting its wide-body aircraft disassembling and warehousing operations from Walnut Ridge, Ark., to Tupelo. In March it landed a retired Japan Airlines 747 at Tupelo Regional Airport.
Today, an Airbus 310 will land around 3:30 p.m.
“We’ve got two 737s coming at the end of the month, another 747 in August,” Manley said. “Then we’re looking at another 747 in November and a 767 in December and a 767 in January.”
Manley also said UAM is working on a proposal for 102 aircraft, but couldn’t disclose the company with which he was negotiating.
“If we can get that, we’ll be keeping pretty busy here for a minimum of three years,” he said.
For now, UAM is transferring equipment and parts from Arkansas to its disassembling operation at Tupelo Regional and its warehouse in Verona.
Thursday’s load was the first shipment to the warehouse.
Two or three more loads will arrive this week, with a goal of five loads a day through the end of August, Manley said.
“Then we’ll start transferring personnel from Arkansas and expand our Tupelo facility,” he said.
UAM said it would add 100 workers over the next three years as it transferred operations to Tupelo. It has hired half a dozen employees and Manley said by the end of October it should have 20 to 25 new hires.
Under the terms of a 20-year lease that began June 1, UAM will pay the authority $85,000 in each of the first two years. In the third year, it pays $105,000. In year four it pays $110,000. Starting at the fifth year, a 1.25 percent increase begins and continues until year 20.
UAM also will pay 65 percent of a prorated portion of utility charges, including connection fees for water, wastewater, natural gas, electricity, phone and other utility charges.
UAM also leases aircraft; the recycling operations make up about 40 percent of the company’s business, Manley said.
“We have about 70 planes on lease, and as they come off lease we determine if they’re cost effective or efficient to redeploy or to recycle,” he said. “The planes we have coming in to recycle were deemed not to be. But we’re always adding planes to our lease portfolio.”
Parts from the planes are sold while the rest is recycled.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.