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Fri, April 19

New owner: Aerospace company to expand with local employees<BR>

Roberts bought Fortner Aerospace, which manufactures precision parts for vehicles including airplanes, submarines and space shuttles, for about $5.5 million from Fortner. Fortner's father, Robert Fortner Sr., started the business in 1948.

Roberts said he intends to double the size of the company over the next two to three years. But he stressed that no full-time Synchronous employees from the California office will be "coming in and changing a bunch of things."

"You have excellent leadership here," Roberts said.

Several employees voiced initial concerns that the change would cause problems, but Roberts has calmed many of those fears, said Kate Taylor, an administrative assistant at Fortner Aerospace.

"I think it's going to get better," she said.

Jennifer Manda, former Fortner Aerospace president and current vice president and program director, admitted she was skeptical about the change but is now excited.

"A lot of us have worked with Bob (Fortner) for a long time ... and working with someone new can be scary and intimidating," she said.

"But I am looking forward to the challenge."

Andy Tobin, president and former CEO of Fortner Aerospace Manufacturing, said he believes Roberts' aspirations to expand the company will be successful because many aerospace manufacturing companies were unable to survive the slumping post-Sept. 11, 2001, economy.

"There are fewer suppliers in the mix," he said, adding that they will be able to handle the potential increase in demand by adding personnel to the current shifts.

"The infrastructure is already in place."

He also said the sale of the company was not a shock to many of the employees because they knew Fortner wanted to retire.

Tobin added that Fortner had several offers to buy the company but he sold to Sychronous Aerospace because he believed they would keep the company intact.

"It was working together as a team, coming to work every day to help each other, that made the company successful," Fortner said in a statement to employees. "I wish you all the very best in the future."

Contact the reporter at mhebert@prescottaz.com

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