Small Businesses Support Big Programs: 5 Reasons to Go Small in Aerospace & Defense

Spirit Electronics sent a letter to the White House last week in support of an increased budget for the F-35 Lightning II program. The letter was co-signed by ten small businesses across the United States who are part of the F-35 supply chain. Lockheed Martin’s F-35 assembly line is currently planning to produce 156 planes per year in 2023 and onward. The small business requested increase would support an additional 100 planes per year to be delivered to the US Armed Forces and international allies.

This manufacturing schedule would be impossible without the support of our nation’s small businesses. Spirit Electronics takes pride in supporting the only 5th generation fighter jet protecting our troops and national security worldwide. The program means more than just military security for many businesses. It can also mean economic security. Such far-reaching manufacturing programs bring jobs and economic investment to local communities across the nation. 

If you’re looking for a partner for your next A&D program, here are 5 reasons why a small business can go above and beyond.

1. Dedicated & Agile Program Support

Spirit has 17 personnel dedicated to supporting the F-35 supply chain. With a team of about 25 members, this would be most of our business! But Team Spirit supports multiple customer programs among government prime contractors.

Our team has the flexibility to support multiple programs with our customer service and advanced business systems. We invested in customizing a powerful ERP system to manage purchase orders and shipment dates that offers real-time updates and reporting. We can manage your program’s full BOM (bill of materials) to order all your components from across the supply chain. We can cross reference part numbers to get you the best product for your needs.

With the allocation environment in the electronics market, order dates are at risk of moving out and lead times are extending. Spirit’s customer support can stay on top of your order dates, inform you of changes and take action to pull in or adjust order deliveries proactively.

In small business, we are used to cross training and filling many roles. Collaboration is easier. We can customize our testing services and logistics services, like SMI programs, and bring all your parts and services under one purchase order.

2. Responsive Product Quality and Safety

Spirit operates with an AS9100-certified quality management system that supports every aspect of our business. While also certified under ISO9001, AS9100 certification means operating with an understanding of product quality and safety in mission-critical aerospace programs. Being a small business with AS9100 lets us train our team and develop our processes to meet requirements more easily.

When your product comes in the door, we perform inspections, use ESD control and handling procedures and have a secure and environmentally controlled warehouse for your inventory. Our XRF analysis and test programs provide you with product data to guarantee your lot meets aerospace and defense requirements.

We manage the quality of your supply chain for you. Our inspections stop orders with documentation errors and physical defects. We resolve quality issues before parts ship to you. We work with each of our suppliers to make sure that your order is complete, handled properly, documented and shipped with quality and product safety top of mind.

As a small team, every employee is trained in ESD control, counterfeit prevention, ITAR and product safety. Our safety awareness is greater and can be more easily embedded in our daily operations.

3. Industry Specialization

As a small business, we can specialize our services and team training for the aerospace industry. We know the ins-and-outs of aerospace and defense regulatory requirements and industry challenges. Being specialized lets us make sure we understand and meet requirements on every order.

Our team understands the contract review process, and we have grown relationships with our manufacturers to make sure we work together to meet your order requirements. We set up our business programs to manage ITAR, counterfeit prevention and cybersecurity. When you order from us, you can be confident that your supply chain is supporting A&D regulatory programs.

4. Community and Economic Investment

When you buy with small businesses, you support local communities. This holds true at Spirit Electronics. The F-35 Lightning II program, while a national operation, generates over $1 billion in economic impact for our state of Arizona. Of the 1,800 businesses supporting the F-35 Lightning II, over 1,000 are small businesses providing more than 250,000 jobs nationally.

We invest our revenue back into our small business. We have hired new employees and trained team members new to aerospace and defense, growing our industry’s talent. Our Phoenix facility started as a vacant suite in a HUBZone, but we have invested in full building renovations. We now have 2,000 sq ft of warehouse space along with a test lab and a contract manufacturing line.

And we didn’t stop there. We started Spirit Gives, our nonprofit that is hosting events and drives to support our local neighborhood kids and families. Small business economic impact can reach communities on a local and personal level.

5. Small Business Spend Credit

Small Business spending credits can be a cherry on top of going small with your supply chain partners. The federal government requires a certain amount of federal contract dollars to be awarded to businesses in certain categories. By working with a small business, your program can meet contract requirements in these spending categories. The government’s goal is to diversify its supply chain in recognition of the critical economic growth and investment small businesses provide.

Spirit is a veteran-owned, woman-owned small business with HUBZone certification. We are certified with the Small Business Administration to meet these ownership qualities. Our HUBZone certification supports our investment in revitalizing our local community. Credit toward the federal program helps make sure that we continue our local economic impact.

Small Business Partners

Small Businesses are expert innovators with highly skilled teams offering quick service. Your program, like the F-35 Lightning II, can benefit from skilled and agile support, specialized services and the opportunity for community economic investment.

To work with Spirit Electronics, get a quote for a single part or even upload your full BOM for us to help you review. And don’t forget to ask about your testing, value-add and logistics options so your parts arrive ready to use.