Arizona’s aerospace and defense sector is among the largest in the United States, with global companies having a major presence in the Grand Canyon State.
Lesser known but equally impressive are Arizona’s small- to medium-sized manufacturers in the A&D sector – entrepreneurs and innovative companies that make up the backbone of the supply chain for the aerospace industry.
One of these leading suppliers is Chandler-based Pilgrim Screw, a family business established in 1932, and one of the most well-known aerospace fastener companies in the U.S.
Consumers may not have heard of Pilgrim, but their high-end screws, bolts and fasteners are key components found on just about everything in the sky, from commercial airplanes, military aircraft, rockets, satellites and drones. Pilgrim even has parts on Mars.
The company has worked with the Arizona Commerce Authority and its RevAZ program on a variety of expansion opportunities, financing options, grant assistance and other technical support.
RevAZ works with Arizona manufacturers to help them become the most successful businesses they can be. The organization provides business and technical services that enable companies to achieve their strategic objectives faster and more efficiently than otherwise possible. Services range from strategic planning and organizational development to lean manufacturing, supply chain optimization, and employee training. Pilgrim is a recent graduate of RevAZ’s ExporTech series, and is now undertaking a go-to-market export initiative with ongoing assistance from the ACA.
Pilgrim has relationships with 150 distributors that buy and sell the company’s parts. These parts go on aircraft like Boeing, Airbus, Gulfstream, Cessna, Bombardier, Sikorsky and Northrop Grumman.
Pilgrim’s Arizona operation produces about 40,000 products a month, mostly high-end “super alloys,” such as titanium screws and bolts, said Jason Grove, Pilgrim COO. Grove said he sees growth potential in those high-end, custom parts.
Grove gave Arizona high marks for a readily available and qualified workforce in the manufacturing sector.
“Hiring a workforce in a market like Phoenix is just phenomenal,” he said. “If you want to expand and grow and hire employees, this is the place to do it.”
The Arizona Commerce Authority estimates there are about 1,250 aerospace and defense suppliers in the state, and more than 4,600 total manufacturing operations.