SeaCast, GE start new venture
Jan 04, 2013 (The Montana Standard - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
SeaCast Inc. is ramping up operations at its Butte foundry, producing components for jet engines as part of a new joint venture with GE Aviation.
The venture, named Montana Precision Products, will specialize in building tubes, ducts and other small structural casts for General Electric jet engines, and add sustainable jobs to the Mining City, according to an announcement from SeaCast owners on Thursday.
The Butte operation currently has about 70 employees.
While SeaCast first began working with GE more than 10 years ago, the companies came together to discuss a more formal partnership at the 2010 Montana Economic Development
Summit at Montana Tech. U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., had invited GE Chairman Jeff Immelt to serve as the event's keynote speaker.
Bert Robins, SeaCast co-owner and vice president, said they also previously hosted GE upon opening their Butte facility earlier that year, with the idea of taking on some additional titanium casting.
"Being that we were going to pour titanium here, we wanted GE to come by and look at the plant," Robins told The Montana Standard in an interview Thursday. "If there were any other things we could do, Butte is a real strong metals town and we should consider it."
Robins and his brother, Mike, are Butte natives who started SeaCast out of Seattle in 1985. Their headquarters are located in Marysville, Wash., with additional facilities in Butte and East Greenwich, R.I.
Prior to SeaCast, Bert Robins worked five years as a welding engineer for GE Aviation, a major provider of jet and turboprop engines. SeaCast would later go on to work as a supplier for GE, casting tubes and ducts for engines including popular models for commercial jetliners.
"We had a very cooperative and healthy relationship," Robins told the Standard. "We figured we could do titanium work for GE out of this (Butte) facility."
The venture means SeaCast can combine its strength in precision investment casting with GE Aviation's position in manufacturing aircraft engine parts, Robins said.
It is not clear how many new jobs the venture will bring to SeaCast Montana, located within the Butte-Silver Bow Tax Increment Financing Industrial District, just off Interstate 15 southwest of Butte. But SeaCast is confident the move will mean a boost to the local economy.
"It's a very exciting time for our employees," Mike Robins said. "The combination of manufacturing capabilities coupled with growing markets creates an exciting growth opportunity for our workforce."
Both GE Aviation and SeaCast will invest in the Butte foundry to handle the higher volume of production.
Colleen Athans, vice president and general manager of the GE Aviation supply chain division, said in an announcement that they are excited to take advantage of SeaCast Montana's critical skills in welding and fabrication to meet their growing demand.
"We are very fortunate to have a strong order book, and this joint venture will provide much-needed additional capacity to meet our commitments," Athans said.
-- Reporter George Plaven may be reached at 496-5597, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/@George_Plaven.
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