JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —
Across Missouri, legislators, educators and others are doing everything in their power to bring Boeing Co. in for a landing in the state.
Legislators last week approved incentives worth up to $1.7 billion to entice Boeing to assemble the next generation of its 777X jetliners in St. Louis. Education leaders in St. Louis also announced last week the formation of a consortium to train workers for advanced manufacturing jobs at aerospace companies. And Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said construction laborers have agreed to a three-shift, 24-hour work schedule without overtime to help Boeing build the plant it will need to produce its new aircraft.
Boeing already makes military aircraft in the St. Louis area and employs about 15,000 people in Missouri, but the hope is that if Boeing picks Missouri to build the commercial planes, it will create up to 8,000 direct jobs, and thousands more jobs for suppliers, vendors and subcontractors.
According to numbers provided by Boeing, the company currently has more than 680 vendor locations in the state. In all, the company claims to support 30,000 jobs in Missouri.
But a number of large employers in Southwest Missouri with decades-long experience in aviation manufacturing — Leggett and Platt, Ducommun (LaBarge) and EaglePicher Technologies — said contracts with Boeing and jobs for Joplin will not necessarily depend on whether Boeing decides to build in the state.
Leggett and Platt Inc., based in Carthage, is one of those companies.
In early 2012, Leggett and Platt completed its acquisition of Western Pneumatic Tube Holding.
Western specializes in thin-walled, large diameter, welded tubing and specialty products made from high-strength but lightweight materials such as titanium, and it is one of the leading suppliers to airline companies. It is based in Kirkland, Wash., and employs approximately 140 people.
In October, Leggett announced the acquisition of a second aerospace tubing manufacturer, Specitubes, based in France.
Those companies, as well as a smaller United Kingdom operation acquired in 2013, should generate annual revenue of approximately $120 million, Leggett officials have said in their statements and federal filings.
“We own the major company in the United States that does it, and we own the major company in Europe that does it,” Dave DeSonnier, senior vice president of corporate strategy and investor relations for Leggett and Platt, said last week.
The company’s customers already include Boeing and its key European rival, Airbus.
“With regard to us, if Boeing builds a plant — wherever they build it — we’re going to get the business that would be in the products that we make,” he said.
Airlines require “no-fail” operations, DeSonnier said. They are going to go with known companies with a proven track record that are certified in the products the airlines need.
While Leggett and Platt can book any contracts for 777X work as part of its overall revenue, Boeing jobs would likely go to its existing plants, meaning there’s not going to be any additional Leggett and Platt jobs for Joplin-area workers even if Missouri officials are successful in bringing Boeing into the state.