Custom Aircraft Cabinets of Sherwood Sells to the World

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 12:00 am  

Twenty-five years ago Mike Gueringer and Paul Reesnes had had enough.

The two, both cabinet builders for the aviation industry in central Arkansas, did what so many people do: They determined that they could make a better product in a better work environment.

Then they did what so few people do: They followed through on that determination.

Twenty-five years later, Custom Aircraft Cabinets in Sherwood employs 218 workers and sees annual revenue of $20 million to $30 million. It manufactures high-end cabinetry and upholstery products — the interior, essentially — for the private, corporate and head-of-state aircraft market throughout the world.

With an attention to detail and an eye for efficiency, CAC co-owners Gueringer and Reesnes have converted a 146,000-SF former National Home Centers building into an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) facility that transforms pieces of honeycomb composite panels and slices of veneer into aircraft interiors that can pass Federal Aviation Administration muster.

Their employees earn $15 to $20 an hour, though highly skilled and experienced workers can command more, and Gueringer and Reesnes hope to double their workforce as they grow their business.

Video: Arkansas Business news partner THV 11 News goes inside CAC's facility in Sherwood.

The partners bought the Sherwood building in July 2012, gutted it and remodeled it to suit CAC’s requirements, spending $5.9 million that they’d borrowed. They opened the new facility just over a year ago, in January 2013, and in just the last three weeks added a production line and 13 workers.

Workers, after a six-week training program, craft handsome aircraft interiors whose components must pass strict federal and international standards. Custom Aircraft Cabinets must combine beauty and comfort — sleek, polished cabinets and well-stuffed, roomy aircraft seats — with safety, when safety means the ability to withstand a jet crash without burning.

CAC employs eight FAA-certified inspectors to help the company do just that and must be prepared for an FAA audit at any time.

In addition, aircraft components must be lightweight, the better to increase fuel efficiency.

The facility includes a showroom, or VIP room, with color-corrective lighting that displays products as they would look in a lighted aircraft cabin. And a climate-controlled room houses the micro-thin panels of wood veneer used in cabinet-making; heat and low humidity can make veneer too brittle to work with.



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