LOCAL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHTDec 27, 2023 07:15PM ● By Bill Evans
I’ve had the privilege and pleasure to live in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for the last six years. And being in the media with NBC, CBS, DINING FOR CHARITIES and now our new community paper, Chattahoochee Valley Living I am amazed at how much I still don’t know about our local businesses that live and thrive in our backyard.
The whole purpose of this space in our community paper is to call attention to some of these amazing companies and the work they do here. I figured if I’m still finding out about these businesses then maybe there are a lot of people that don’t know about them as well.
Meet McCauley Propellers. I had the opportunity to visit the McCauley facility out on Cargo Drive where I spent time with McCauley Plant Manager, Greg Payne. If you don’t know McCauley Propeller Systems is one of the world’s largest full line propeller manufacturers. And it is located here in Georgia. McCauley Propellers are on more than 350,000 aircraft around the world.
How is it that a lot of us don’t know about this amazing company that is part of our community? McCauley Aviation Corporation was founded in 1938. In July of this year, they celebrated 85 years. Owned by Textron Aviation and a part of Cessna they employ 65 people in Columbus and another 20 or so employees in Wichita, Kansas that are led by McCauley Plant Manager, Greg Payne.
I sat down with Greg and asked him about McCauley Propell3rs.
Bill: “Greg, first off, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of McCauley Propellors here in Columbus.”
Greg: “I would say there are a few reasons why so few people know about McCauley here in Columbus. We have a small work force and we have very low turn-over rate. When Cessna transferred out of Columbus many people thought McCauley left with them. Combined those two things plus the fact that our factory is off the beaten path. You can’t really see us from the road. I think all of those reasons has lead to us being a secret in our own town.”
Bill: You have 65 empolyees, men and women. I say that because this is not easy work making propellors, so I was surprised to see so many women working here.
Greg: We have 8 women on our team. These team members do everything for us. They work in our composite area- they make the blades from the ground up. They layup the blades, mold the blades and perform all the processes in between.
Bill: It was impressive to see that you have a couple of generations of family members working at your company----talk about that.
Greg: Our team is very experienced, and we have team members who have been with us 25-30 years. They know our products and they love McCauley. One of the greatest things to see is that our team members believe in McCauley so much they ask their children to apply for positions here as well. We have multiple family members working together to produce a great product. We have brothers, Mom and sons, Fathers and daughters and father and sons all working together and have been for many years. It is awesome to see people passing the torch and the pride from one generation to the next. Our team describes McCauley as a family.
Bill: When you were giving me a tour ithe shift was coming off lunch break and all the employee gathered in the same area to do stretching, etc. Talk about this a little------the culture of your company.
Greg: We have a strong culture here at McCauley of caring about our employees. We want them to leave work better than when they arrived. We hold two stretches a day. In the beginning of the shift and after lunch. My leadership team runs these stretches. The afternoon stretch is a good way to loosen back up after a nice lunch. This stretch lasts 5 to 10 minutes. We perform a variety of stretches. This also gives us time to interact as a team every day. This gives me an opportunity to flow down information to the team on hot topics and to share how we are doing and what opportunities we have to improve (only as needed). This also gives the entire team a chance to ask me questions and I get to share our successes.
Bill: You mentioned that in 18 months you mentioned you are going to be starting a large expansion project. Will this also mean some new jobs coming to Columbus?
Greg: We will be expanding our building to accommodate the growth in composite propellers. Composites are the future of aviation because of their durability and are light weight compared to aluminum. This large expansion will also bring additional jobs to the McCauley team in the next few years. We are expecting a 20% growth over the next few years with the increase in our product. This expansion will also bring in new technology to our business. The new composite presses will help reduce cycle time and ensure stronger repeatability for our production line.
Bill: I saw some robotics in the work shop----handling the sanding of the blades. Again, had no idea of your company and the technology you are using here in Columbus.
Greg: We currently have one robot in operation. This robot supports blade polish and helps the operators save time. It is key to have technology that will help the team and help us produce more parts.
Bill: The robotics was amazing to watch perform the process of sanding the blades. They literally are programmed to pick up the blade, sand it, put it back and grab a new blade.
On our walk through the plant we met a high school intern-------great program---great opportunity----talk about that and how HS kids can get into your internship program----what do you look for? etc.
Greg: We have been part of the high school internship program for two years now. We partnered with Jordan Vocational High School, and it is going very well. We started the program with one student and next year we will have two students enrolled in the program. The program lasts one semester, and the student is able to learn about the entire business. We have a rotational schedule for them, so they get to see different parts of the business. They stay in the area for about 3 weeks and work with a mentor. They start off by shadowing the mentor and learning the ins and outs of the area. For example, they will start off in our small parts area. In this area we have 10 CNC machines and produce a variety of different parts. The student learns about our machines and learns what programs they need to use and how to measure the finished product to ensure compliance. By adding one additional spot to our internship program it will allow a student to work with our engineering team. Many of our students are interested in a career in engineering and if we can help them in any way we will.
The Chattahoochee Valley Living salutes the McCauley Propellor company and what they have and are doing in Columbus, Georgia. We need to celebrate our local business and the first way to do that is by getting to know them. If you know of a company that might surprise us here in Columbus, we would love to share and tell their story. Contact me at [email protected]