STRATFORD -- FOX 61’s Amanda Raus took an exclusive walk through the manufacturing floor with Sikorsky President Dan Schultz to see what employees are working on at one of Connecticut’s major manufacturers.
“This is our Stratford facility. We have, as you can see, a very large facility. We have a million square feet under roof here,” said Dan Schultz.
Schultz took stock of all the aircraft the company makes that support all branches of our military from the Seahawks and Romeos for the Navy to the Blackhawk helicopters that fly all over the world.
“We’ve got about 6,500 workers here. We have the Teamsters 1150 is our union that works in the factory here. They’re the guys that put together the Blackhawk, and as you can see the components are very integrated. At each station we build a helicopter more and more. Back here, we start with parts coming together, put the rotor heads on, the gear boxes, the electronics, and then it goes out the door for testing at the other end,” said Schultz.
He said watching each of these helicopters be delivered is a testament to the dedication of the employees, who design and build these helicopters from the ground up.
“I’d put our engineering department up against anybody in the world. We design the best and safest and reliable helicopters anywhere, so that’s exciting for me to see the engineering. And then interface with a workforce that’s so dedicate to what they do. We have so many family members that have their father working here, their mother, their son, their daughter, entire generations have grown up in Sikorsky. Heck, your father works here, and I love that. I love the fact that it’s a community feel,” he said.
Sikorsky works with suppliers all across the state, so there are small businesses here in Connecticut benefiting from providing parts for the different helicopters.
“What we do here at Stratford, is we make the really hard, hard components, the gear boxes, the rotor blades, the transmissions. But we don’t build every single part. We buy many of the parts from locals here that supply it to us. And we have this policy in Sikorsky, we want to be good neighbors, so we want to reach out to all the other business that are around here, and build that family,” said Schultz.
One thing that Sikorsky, just like many other companies that deal with defense, are dependent on, is the budget. Many people are looking at the national defense budget, and critics would ask, “Why are we giving so much money to defense when we have domestic problems here at home that we need to take care of?”
Schultz has a response.
“So, I was a Marine, am a Marine. My philosophy in life has always been that I want it to be the most unfair fight for our Airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines that are out there, that I want to be part of something that builds the very best that we have. Our country owes it to the men and women that serve in the military to give them the very best product that we can,” he said.
He’s already seen that work first hand.
“We recently had a Navy Seal, Jason Redman, come back. He’d been shot eight times in the face. He was laying there on the ground, and he actually came back to the factory to shake hands with the employees. He said, when I was laying there, bleeding out, he said I had kind of lost hope. He said when I heard the chop, the unmistakable chop of the Blackhawk rotor blades, I knew that HH, that rescue helicopter was there to save me. I knew that once I was on that, I’d be saved, and he said I know those pilots flew the rotors off to get me home, and I’m here alive, I’m living proof of Igor’s dream,” said Schultz.
There’s a sign on the back wall of the manufacturing floor that reads, “We pioneer flight solutions that bring people home everywhere, every time.” Schultz said that every employee at Sikorsky goes to work each day keeping that in mind.
Security was a main concern during FOX 61’s visit inside Sikorsky. In addition to going through security before crews were allowed into the facility, security experts from Sikorsky reviewed FOX 61’s video to make sure there was no threat to national security.