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Radius Aerospace, a 53-year-old aerospace fabricator and supplier in Hot Springs, is almost as stealthy as the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II, the U.S. Air Force's new multirole fighter jet, for which the company supplies complex titanium parts.

The location of a major component of Radius' Hot Springs operations is in a nondescript set of industrial buildings off Central Avenue not far from Oaklawn Park. It also has operations off Malvern Avenue. Altogether, Radius operates in 359,000 square feet of space in the city.

Radius' profile likely will get a boost after it breaks ground Monday on its new Titanium Operations facility, an investment worth $24.5 million.

The new facility will total 22,000 square feet, or about 7,000 square feet more than its existing titanium facility, company officials say. It not only will allow room for more hot titanium presses to accommodate demand for the aircraft parts it fabricates but will allow Radius to expand its payroll, which now totals 385 workers.

The Titanium Operations workforce eventually will grow from 26 to 65, according to Rebecca Tracy, the company's environmental operations manager.

The cost of the building is expected to be $3,791,000 while the equipment will cost $20,725,000, she said.

The investment was driven by one customer, Gulfstream, which is developing a new business jet. With the unmet demand for titanium globally, however, Radius expects to grow its titanium business in future years.

Radius is one of five major titanium suppliers in the United States.

Titanium is a strong, light and heat-resistant metal, properties that are important in aircraft, missiles and rockets.

The titanium now accounts for about 20% of Radius' annual revenue from its Hot Springs facilities, which total about $100 million, company officials said.

Radius brought on a new president for its operations in Hot Springs, John Kelley, who has 35 years of experience in the titanium industry.

Radius is expected to add one titanium press next year to the six it already has once the new building is finished, which is scheduled for October, as well as supporting equipment. It began titanium operations with one press in 2005.

"We're growing in the technology," Kelley said "We're working to build to market share."

In addition to the F-35, the facility supplies titanium parts for a broad range of aircraft, according to Darren Hill, the company's supply chain vice president.

They range from military aircraft that include the F-15 Eagle, a U.S. Air Force all-weather tactical fighter, and the F/A-18 Hornet, a U.S. Navy multirole combat jet that can operate on aircraft carriers, to the Airbus A350, a long-range, wide-body airliner; and business jets such as the Bombardier 7500 and Gulfstream G650.

The company may operate with a low profile in Arkansas, but it is well known in the aerospace industry, especially with its titanium hot press and super plastic forming, according to company officials.

The company has benefited from the new way modern aircraft are manufactured. The big players in the industry, such as Boeing, Lockheed and Airbus, no longer manufacture their own parts. Instead they put their their aircraft together on assembly lines with parts made by Radius and other aerospace suppliers.

The investment comes seven months after the Hot Springs company was acquired by Arlington Capital Partners of Chevy Chase, Md., from the Triumph Group Inc. and renamed Radius.

The company was founded in 1966 as Chem-Fab by Loren Furnas and Ron Reagan. It was acquired by Triumph in 2000.

Radius includes four other facilities in the United States -- in Fort Worth, San Diego, Phoenix and Shelbyville, Ind. Its headquarters is in Hot Springs.

This week, Radius announced that it had acquired two British facilities in Sheffield and Shrewsbury, which will be known as Radius Europe.

Capital Partners describes itself as a midmarket private equity firm focusing on investing in "regulated industries and their adjacent markets."

At the time, Capital Partners acquired Radius, it cited its "diverse and broad end-market base" and its employees' expertise.

Radius' business is "spread across defense, commercial and business jet customers," Capital Partners said. "Radius' employee base brings decades of experience in difficult-to-form processes and a track record of engineering and tooling solutions for its customers' most complex fabricating needs."

Business on 11/22/2019

Print Headline: Hot Springs' Radius to break ground on titanium plant

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