Friday, August 9, 2013

New Faculty Tour: Gulfstream and International Relations

Written by Tim Quigley, assistant professor in the department of management in the Terry College of Business. Quigley moved to Athens 3 weeks ago from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. 

The New Faculty Tour arrived in Savannah yesterday afternoon for a visit with Gulfstream, a true success story of high-tech economic development in Georgia. The visit included a tour of the G650 production facility and discussions with senior management.

The G650 is Gulfstream's newest business jet capable of flying longer, faster and with more passengers than other business jets. It can travel more than 7,000 miles, allowing it to travel between most global business centers without stopping. 

Jay Neely of Gulfstream highlighted the challenges of transforming the company into a truly international firm. Just 10 or 15 years ago the firm generated 80 percent of their revenue in the United States. Today, it is less than half. The firm has been challenged to transform from a "U.S. firm that sold a bit overseas into a truly global enterprise." The largest source of overseas sales comes from China, a country that had effectively zero general aviation activity a decade ago. For a firm that emphasizes service, especially after the sale, this has required expanding the global footprint of their maintenance and other support operations. Cultural and regulatory differences and a lack of qualified aviation talent create additional challenges.

As sales of the G650 continue to grow, Gulfstream continues to exceed hiring and expansion plans at their Savannah headquarters. They remain particularly proud of the fact that design as well as research and development are located in Georgia.

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