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Blue Skies

In its 80th year, Piper continues its momentum in manufacturing and as a positive force in the community

Piper’s decision in 2011 to enhance its single-engine turboprop Meridian resulted in the derivative M-Class airplanes such as this M600.

Piper’s decision in 2011 to enhance its single-engine turboprop Meridian resulted in the derivative M-Class airplanes such as this M600.

Piper Aircraft recently celebrated its 80th anniversary and is flying high — in some aspects higher than ever in recent memory. Because of a number of strategic steps set in motion in 2012, the company has recaptured some of its past glory, and Vero Beach is the beneficiary. 

In the last 15 months Piper hired more than 280 workers for its manufacturing factory — in many cases rehiring employees laid off during the recession. At year end the workforce reached 870. And this spring the company will partner with Indian River State College to institute an apprenticeship program to bolster its staff. 

In terms of production, Piper achieved a 35 percent increase last year over 2016 and brought 162 planes off the line. And for the first time in many years Piper is operating with a backlog of orders. Revenue for 2017 has increased some 45 percent over the year before.

Blue skies are indeed on the horizon for Piper. But this is only after meeting the challenges of the past decade and finding its sweet spot in what has become the “new normal” for the industry.