Doing more than just flying the plane
New Mexico Business Weekly by Kathi Schroeder, Editor
Date: Friday, March 30, 2012, 5:18pm MDT – Last Modified: Friday, March 30, 2012, 6:10pm MDT
An under-most-people’s-radar-screens Albuquerque business called Ultramain Systems Inc. has played a huge role in easing the paperwork burden of maintenance tracking for an impressive collection of clients, from the globe’s largest airlines (Emirates) to soon, The Boeing Co.’s fleets of aircraft coming off its production lines.
New Mexico has lots going for it, not the least of which is the recent spate of beautiful weather we’ve been enjoying.
When the skies are so clear, we can see the icy contrails of the virtually constant air traffic over this part of the Southwest reflecting in the sunlight. Looking up, it’s fun to wonder who might be on board one of those flying people carriers and where they’re headed.
This week, I learned a heck of a lot more about what goes into keeping those big birds airborne. An under-most-people’s-radar-screens Albuquerque business called Ultramain Systems Inc. has played a huge role in easing the paperwork burden of maintenance tracking for an impressive collection of clients, from the globe’s largest airlines (Emirates) to soon, The Boeing Co .’s fleets of aircraft coming off its production lines.
Ultramain’s CEO Mark McCausland, a Carlsbad, New Mexico native, helped his Albuquerque Economic Development audience understand why it’s important to shut off one’s electronic devices upon takeoff and landing, although he didn’t admonish his audience to do that. After listening to his Thursday luncheon presentation, I surmised that. His company has created software that has replaced reams of paper reports pilots and ground maintenance folks have to fill out for each flight.
Thanks to Ultramain’s software wizardry, all of that data, such as reports of strange noises or fuel leaks, gets transmitted electronically. So that means there’s a lot of wireless traffic clogging the radio frequencies around airports. There are strict Federal Aviation Administration rules that pilots and maintenance workers must comply with in order for your flight to take off or land in a timely fashion. I’m over-simplifying the process as it’s much more complex than that. Suffice it to say that they are required by law, emphasis McCausland’s, to have identical copies in the air and on the ground simultaneously of all maintenance issues. And you thought your pilots were just flying the plane.
There was another great keynoter at AED’s Thursday lunch, Vice President and General Manager Marshall Suarez of CTS Corp., also a significant Albuquerque business, with in excess of $16 million in revenue in 2011, $6 million of it from exports. We’re talking economic-base jobs because it’s money coming into New Mexico from products or services produced by in-state companies. McCausland caused a ripple in the audience when he told attendees that 100 percent of his company’s revenue comes from out of state.
These are the types of businesses our monthly Reinventing Economic Development columnist Mark Lautman has been spouting about for months because they’re great boons to our economy. They bring fresh money – income, taxes, etc. – into the state because the producer companies are based here and, therefore, get paid here, not in Los Angeles or New York.
Suarez is another New Mexico native, a graduate of New Mexico State University . His very successful company, originally called Chicago Telephone Supply, transitioned from Chicago to Albuquerque in the 1970s. It manufactures high-tech ceramic-based components for everything from television sets and nuclear submarines to cell towers and jet printers. Right here in River City. CTS is an important player in the global marketplace and it, too, has flown under the radar screen of most of us in this region. I’ve driven past the CTS building on Alameda at Jefferson for years, not sure what its blue letters stood for.
Our newspaper has profiled McCausland and reporter Kevin Robinson-Avila has written numerous stories about Ultramain, but we’re going to turn our attention on Mr. Suarez and his quiet company very soon because you, our business readers, will most likely find his North I-25 corridor business just as impressive as McCausland’s. Either man could have been AED’s sole keynoter. Their stories and their companies are that interesting. Together they employ nearly 250 people in our region and their companies are helping keep our economy alive.