WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Top Boeing Co. executives were in Wichita on Monday to celebrate tornado recovery efforts by parts supplier Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc., telling thousands of cheering employees that the event forged a stronger bond between the aerospace companies.
Spirit AeroSystems never missed a shipping date to Boeing after the Spirit plant in Wichita was hit by a tornado April 14, said Kent Fisher, vice president of supplier management for Boeing commercial airplanes.
"In my life, and I am sure in many of yours, the best relationships I have are formed during times of adversity, when things were hard and you worked together with somebody and got through it," Fisher said. "This is going to make our relationship even stronger."
The tornado struck Spirit's Wichita plant while about 200 employees took refuge in storm shelters. The storm damaged 40 buildings.
Fisher said Spirit AeroSystems faced 91 hours without power, no water, damage to 10 million square feet of roofing and major production equipment going offline.
"It's not as bad as it could have been, but it was pretty bad," Fisher said.
Spirit brought in nearly 2,000 workers and 19 cranes for the recovery effort, put up new roofing and hauled away tornado debris. Employees and contractors restored power and water, repaired buildings and brought critical equipment back online.
Within eight days, all 10,800 Spirit workers were back on the job making parts for Boeing, according to Spirit. CEO Jeff Turner repeatedly told his employees Monday that they were "awesome."
Fisher told those gathered that what they did "as a result of this event builds confidence in the Boeing's airline customers "in ways I cannot even begin to tell you, so thank you so much."