Factory Now Producing A Plane A Day
Manufacturing Co. celebrated a milestone last week as its 400th
aircraft rolled off the assembly line in Bend, OR. The company
(formerly known as The Lancair Company -- not to be confused with
kitbuilder Lancair International) produced its first plane six
years ago... and while times are now rosy for Columbia, that wasn't
always the case.
"We started in the mid-'90s on certifying the aircraft," said
Columbia's North American sales manager Mike Schrader to the Bend
Bulletin, "and it was a long, hard battle to get to the point
of producing one plane per day. It's phenomenal."
As was reported by Aero-News,
Columbia delivered 115 new airplanes in 2005. According to the
Bulletin, about 60 completed aircraft -- all sold -- currently sit
outside the company's plant near Bend Municipal Airport, waiting
for their owners to come pick them up.
"Right now, we're on an even balance," Schrader added. "What
usually happens is that demand picks up in the summer before it
evens out by wintertime -- so if we carry our current sales
momentum through the year, we expect demand to outpace our
production for the rest of the year."
That's a welcome far cry from 2002, when an investor pulled its
funding and the company was forced to lay off 277 employees. Today,
the company's plant in Bend employs 730 people -- and is looking
"We need people," Schrader said. "We're definitely looking to
get more workers on board."
That also comes as good news for Roger Lee, executive director
of Economic Development for Central Oregon.
"The company went through some tenuous times three to four years
ago, and they've rebounded dramatically," said Lee.