News Column

Aegis of Success

June 2002, HISPANIC BUSINESS magazine

Rick Laezman

Behind every growing company is a unique formula for success. In the case of Aegis Electronic Systems, an emphasis on quality control has paid off handsomely.

The company’s client roster, which reads like a who’s who in the aerospace, defense, and communications industries, includes General Dynamics, NASA, and Lockheed Martin as well as NBC.

Aegis boasts a cleanroom (a pressure- and temperature-controlled manufacturing area) that meets both federal and international standards – essentials in the rough-and-tumble aerospace contracting arena.

The Hawthorne, New York–based firm’s products and services range from motors and electronic components to fiber-optic connectors and environmentally friendly chemicals. Military projects account for about 80 percent of the company’s workload.

“It represents the top of the mountain,” says Aegis president George Busigo of the company’s quality-control accomplishments.

Just as importantly, however, Aegis is a certified small disadvantaged business and HUBZone company. Both Small Business Administration designations give Aegis a compelling advantage, according to Vincent Forras, the company’s co-owner and co-founder. “They make the large contractors competitive,” he says.

To qualify for lucrative defense contracts, large contractors such as the ones that deal with Aegis are required to direct a certain percentage of their contracting work to minority- and women-owned businesses. But many of these smaller, so-called Tier 1 companies lack the specialization of Aegis. “Other [SBA] companies do not have the same basic expertise in all of these areas,” says Mr. Busigo of his company’s multidimensional capabilities.

Aegis has developed a keen eye for strategic partnering. The company has formed a consortium of partnerships with manufacturers throughout the world, including such firms as Nu-Cast Inc., which designs and produces high-strength castings for space applications.

Aegis and its associate companies are fully certified for military projects and have been approved by such big names as British Aerospace, Rolls Royce, Honeywell, and Electric Boat, makers of Sea Wolf attack submarines. The certifications help clients avoid bureaucratic paperwork when they sign a contract with Aegis, which translates into saved time and money.

Aegis has found other ways to streamline processes for its clients. The company’s kitting service supplies customized component kits designed for seamless integration with client production facilities. So-called hospital kits for lost or damaged parts also are provided.

The kitting service eliminates multiple orders and reduces paperwork. Most importantly, the kits are designed to operate “direct to line.”

“In other words, they don’t stop the assembly line,” explains Mr. Busigo.
Mr. Forras and Mr. Busigo are particularly enthusiastic about a new electric “quiet” motor that Aegis is designing and developing for a new breed of stealth submarine. The project is classified, so they can’t give out too much detail.
Aegis also makes electronic circuit boards for use in space shuttles and is developing a new digital gas analyzer that will identify critical fuel system repair needs on shuttles before takeoff.

Mr. Forras founded Aegis in 1988 with his brother, Gary. Initially, it was a small operation that specialized in the distribution of U.S. mil-spec components. Now, the company’s offerings are so varied that Mr. Forras has a difficult time finding a proper label to describe them. He settles for “full-service, electro-mechanic, turnkey manufacturing.” The firm currently has a workforce of 20.

The company grossed about $4 million last year and has enjoyed revenue increases averaging 20 to 25 percent in recent years. And Mr. Busigo expects Aegis to continue growing.

As he likes to say, “You can’t find anything like us.”

Source: HISPANIC BUSINESS magazine

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