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Updated: November 8, 2022

In run up to election, Gov. Lamont talks expansion plans with Farmington international aerospace manufacturer

HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER Gov. Ned Lamont and other state leaders visited Pietro Rosa’s New England Airfoil Products facility in Farmington ahead of November’s election.
HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER State leaders visited Pietro Rosa’s New England Airfoil Products facility in Farmington ahead of November’s election.

In the run up to the Nov. 8 election, Gov. Ned Lamont and other business officials recently visited New England Airfoil Products in Farmington to tour the company’s growing facility and discuss potential future expansions.

New England Airfoil Products, the Farmington-based aerospace and defense industry manufacturer owned by Italian firm Pietro Rosa TBM, hosted Lamont and others in October during CEO Mauro Fioretti’s visit to Connecticut. Fioretti and Lamont talked about global politics before discussing Pietro Rosa’s desire to expand in Connecticut.

In 2016, Pietro Rosa purchased New England Airfoil to add to its network of worldwide manufacturers. The facility had been “underinvested” for years with only 17 local employees at the time of the deal.

The Malloy administration in 2016 also awarded Pietro Rosa $5 million in low-interest loans. In exchange, the company promised to invest in the facility and hire at least 100 new employees within five years. Pietro Rosa met that hiring target by 2019, state records show.

Pietro Rosa has invested more than $30 million into the 100,000-square-foot facility at 36 Spring Lane since the purchase, and is eyeing more growth in the state, company officials said.

At the October event and lunch — attended by the Hartford Business Journal — Fioretti talked about the importance of being able to “copy and paste” Pietro Rosa’s Italy-based capabilities in Connecticut.

Pietro Rosa is a specialist in forging and machining stainless steel, titanium and nickel alloy, and has developed more than 1,500 products. New England Airfoil’s products — ranging from compressor airfoils, brackets, engine mounts and cruciforms — are used in gas turbine engines made by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in aerospace, energy and marine sectors.

The company is midway through a 10-year contract with East Hartford jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney to support its F135 jet-fighter engine and civilian PW2000 and geared turbofan engines. It also works with other Connecticut-based aerospace manufacturers.

Business in the state helped Pietro Rosa narrow down where to locate its U.S. base back in 2016.

“We want to expand our capacity here,” Fioretti said. “Our customers will benefit because they’ll have two locations where they can make exactly the same parts and have their supply chain closer to them.”

New England Airfoil’s expansion over the next few years will include the purchase of new equipment and hiring potentially more than 30 new employees.

Local supply chain

Lamont was joined on the visit by the state’s Chief Manufacturing Officer Paul Lavoie, state Department of Economic and Community Development Deputy Commissioner Alexandra Daum, and AdvanceCT Director of Business Development and Advanced Manufacturing Ted Fisher, to discuss what support the state offers to growing companies planning to hire more employees.

Gov. Ned Lamont makes a point during a visit to Pietro Rosa’s New England Airfoil Products facility in Farmington ahead of November’s election.

Lavoie and Daum explained that state incentives have changed since Pietro Rosa’s purchase of New England Airfoil. The Malloy administration focused its economic development policies on providing growing companies upfront grants and loans. The Lamont administration has largely shifted to an “earn-as-you-grow” incentives program that provides longer-term tax rebates after companies in certain industries — including advanced manufacturing — add 25 or more jobs.

Lavoie and Daum expressed confidence that there are state job-creation incentives New England Airfoil could utilize in the future.

Pietro Rosa North America President Clive Cunliffe and the company’s U.S. General Manager Steven Watson said it’s an expensive process duplicating the company’s Italy-based operations in Farmington, which is why the state incentives in 2016 were important.

Besides the investment in the property and new employees, Cunliffe said Pietro Rosa often brings engineers from Italy to Farmington when introducing new equipment or processes, which carries a hefty price tag logistically between flights and housing.

Briefly speaking to Pietro Rosa’s employees, Lamont praised the company’s efforts to get control of its supply chain by having operations closer to its clients and suppliers.

“You’ve got to play to your strength, and I love the fact that New England Airfoil Products is here,” Lamont said. “We’re closer to the supply chain, closer to the OEMs, closer to (Pratt & Whitney), and closer to the major partners you need.”

In March, New England Airfoil debuted its “George Einstein Learning Center” in a former conference room that now serves as a hub to train and onboard new employees.

The company also recently completed the build-out of a 10,000-square-foot product introduction center, which will be used to develop and test new products and parts.

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