Fiedorowicz takes ACM's reins amid surging aeroparts sector

BY Gregory Seay

HBJ | File Photo
HBJ | File Photo
Bruce Fiedorowicz recently assumed the reins as executive director of Aerospace Components Manufacturers (ACM) in Rocky Hill. Fiedorowicz spent more than three decades in aerospace, with his last stop at GKN Aerospace Engine Systems New England in Newington.
For nearly 18 years, a band of Connecticut and western Massachusetts aeroparts suppliers — Aerospace Components Manufacturers (ACM) — has relied on one person to coordinate and promote their interests at home and abroad.

Mechanical engineer Allen Samuel has been the first and only executive director — and sole full-time staffer — of the nonprofit association based in Rocky Hill. But as of Jan. 1, Samuel has moved to a part-time role at ACM, helping with the leadership transition to another aerospace veteran, Bruce Fiedorowicz, who has taken hold of ACM's day-to-day operating reins.

Samuel, a Branford resident who early in his career worked for Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, says the transition occurs just as the cyclical aerospace sector is undergoing a resurgence not only in Connecticut and the U.S., but worldwide.

This, Fiedorowicz, Samuel and others say, presents ACM with an opportunity to expand its 118-member base to include more of the 500 or so small- to mid-size aeroparts makers-suppliers headquartered within "the world's aerospace alley,'' stretching north of Springfield to the south of Hartford. (ACM officials say it trademarked the tag line a few years back.)

"What ACM needs to do," Samuel said, "is continue its steady growth in terms of the number of members and retaining members. To do that, we need to be responsive to the needs of these members."

From its formation in July 1999 with six aeroparts firms as inaugural members, ACM on Samuel's watch has grown to 118 members in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. Combined, they generate more than $3 billion in sales annually and employ more than 9,000 producing jet-engine compressor fan blades, nacelles, wing slats and other highly machined and shaped metal aerospace components.

Fiedorowicz, who until recently was business development director for Newington aeroparts supplier GKN Aerospace Engine Systems New England, hails Samuel's leadership and said he wants to build on Samuel's efforts to expand membership, advocate effectively on behalf of ACM members, and continue to shape and refine the group's programming tied to members' business- and workforce-development needs and ambitions.

"Our job is to carry this torch,'' said Fiedorowicz, a Torrington native who made a career in manufacturing. After graduating from Central Connecticut State University with a business degree in 1977, he joined former Emhart, a fastener supplier to the auto industry. An uncle who worked at Pratt & Whitney urged him to seek a job in the thriving aerospace industry.

In 1979, Pratt hired Fiedorowicz in East Hartford, where he spent 19 years in its supply-chain operations. The last 13, he said he sold Pratt engines to Asian air carriers, including Korean Air — his biggest customer — and China Air. During his Pratt tenure, Fiedorowicz returned to school, earning an MBA from the University of Hartford.

Fiedorowicz left Pratt in 2000 for Bristol's Barnes Group, selling components to aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). In 2009, he joined Volvo Aero in Newington as director of business development. He was named sales director when British manufacturer GKN Plc acquired Volvo Aero in 2012.

GKN is a key supplier of metal aero-components to Pratt and other U.S. and overseas aerospace OEMs.

Fiedorowicz says he intends to leverage his career's worth of aerospace expertise and contacts to make as many of ACM's members as efficient, productive and profitable as possible.

'Personal mentor'

Farmington aerospace executive Max McIntyre, who is ACM's president, says the organization chose Fiedorowicz for his expertise and energy. Fiedorowicz, past president and board member of the organization, led ACM's efforts in prospecting for new members and assisting existing ones.

"He's a bright, inspirational person,'' said McIntyre, vice president of New England Airfoil Products. "He's fully engaged for any project he's involved in."

McIntyre says Fiedorowicz has been his "personal mentor'' on aerospace matters, adding that qualifies him to counsel other aeroparts firms on issues important to them.

"He's seen the ups and the downs,'' McIntyre said. "Right now, we're on an uptick."

Along with the issue of U.S. aeroparts suppliers competing against European and Asian rivals, many of whom benefit from cheap labor and favorable government support to undercut foreign competitors, ACM members wage a constant fight to recruit and retain skilled machinists, engineers and other manufacturing talent.

McIntyre, Samuel and Fiedorowicz agree that remains a focus for ACM leadership and members. ACM each November hosts an exhibitors' expo, including a half-day recruiting-information session that draws close to 1,000 high school and college pupils interested in manufacturing careers.

They say the state Department of Economic and Community Development and the governor have consistently championed the efforts of ACM and another manufacturing nonprofit, the New Haven Manufacturers Association, in promoting efforts to train the next generation of talent.

"Believe it or not,'' McIntyre said, "it's a great time to be in manufacturing. It's a great time to be in Connecticut. It's a great time to be in aerospace.''