Gulfstream growth defies business climate - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Gulfstream growth defies business climate

Gulfstream President Larry Flynn Gulfstream President Larry Flynn
(Source: Gulfstream) (Source: Gulfstream)

Gulstream Aerospace Corp.'s business arc is symbolized every day on the runways outside its corporate headquarters by the jets that climb steadily upward.

"I'll tell you,'' says Gulfstream President Larry Flynn, "10 years ago, it was a U.S., Georgia-based company. Today, it's an international company that happens to be based in Savannah, Georgia. So that's a big transition from that standpoint.''

China's development into a burgeoning private business jet market , with more than 100 Gulfstreams sold where there recently were none, has fueled the company's growth.

But so has the addition of the longest-range, fastest-speed, largest-cabin aircraft yet to Gulfstream's product line, the G650, which is capable of traveling 7,000 nautical miles and can climb to an altitude of 51,000 feet.

"We actually created a new marketplace at $65 million price point that surpasses anything and everything we'd done in the past,'' Flynn says of the G650. "So it actually is incremental to our business and very substantial.''

With a fleet of 2,100 jets worldwide, Gulfstream has opened service and sales centers from Beijing to Brazil.  But its footprint has expanded even more significantly in the market it arrived in 46 years ago.

Now Savannah's largest employer, Gulfstream helps create its own workforce through relationships with several local schools. And that will only continue with Savannah Tech's soon-to-open Aviation Training Center.

"We reach all the way back to the high schools with our Student Leadership Program and you'll see high school interns working here,'' said Flynn, who is overseeing the company's second major expansion in the last 10 years. "In 2010, we said we were going to spend $500 million, most of it in Savannah, and hire 1,000 people. We ended up hiring 1,700 employees. With our good fortunes, we've been able to hire a lot of people here in Savannah, 8,500 strong now.''

And, as always, Gulfstream's recent growth has come with an eye on what's still to come as much as what's already been done.

"There's always going to be a next great thing for Gulfstream,'' said Flynn. "We continue to invest in (research and development.) We have a substantial R&D campus just off the airport site. There are 1,300 engineers over there that are working on the next great thing.''

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