BUTNER — An aircraft-parts manufacturer has launched an expansion that company and government officials say should double the workforce of a Butner facility that already employs more than 100 people.

Ontic Engineering and Manufacturing Inc. broke ground on the expansion on Tuesday, with company CEO Gareth Hall saying the firm is “looking for exponential growth in Granville County, not just small incremental gains.”

There are no new business-development incentives associated with the project, but the company in 2019 did get a $500,000 building-reuse grant from the state for its facility off East Lyon Station from the state.

Granville County provided a $25,000 local match for that grant, county spokesman Terry Hobgood said.

The N.C. Department of Commerce in 2019 also awarded the company a $1.4 million Job Development Investment Grant that at the time was tied to a $2.7 million investment by Ontic into expanding its operations and workforce in Butner.

Government and business leaders quietly consider Ontic one of the jewels in Granville County’s business-sector crown, given the company’s role in the aviation industry.

Ontic helps keep civilian and military planes flying — whether they’re cutting-edge aircraft like the V-22 Osprey or aging warriors like the 1950s-vintage B-52 bomber — by making and supplying the parts crews need to maintain them.

Its particular niche in the trade lies in licensing the rights to parts that an original manufacturer for economic or business-strategy reasons no longer wishes to make, and then turning them out itself in relatively small batches.

Along with the plant in Butner, the company has counterpart facilities in New York, California, the United Kingdom and Singapore. Each has a somewhat different role.

Prior licensing announcements indicate the the Butner facility’s tasks include or have included making such things as windshield-wiper assemblies used on Boeing’s 757, 767 and 777 airliners, the U.S. Air Force’s KC-46A (a 767 derivative) and the Air Force’s C-17 cargo plane.

Other examples include a 2020 deal that gave the plant the job of making some aircraft instruments Ontic licensed from a New York company, and a 2021 deal added a Honeywell-developed safety warning system used in General Electric ground-based and marine gas turbines.

The company tends to call its Granville County operation its Creedmoor facility, but it’s actually in an industrial area off Interstate 85’s Exit 191 that’s within the town limits of Butner.

The Butner plant is part of a thriving aviation sector across North Carolina that among other things sees General Electric make jet-engine parts in the western part of the state and finished jet engines in Durham. Honda also manufactures a small jet airplane in Greensboro.

Contact Ray Gronberg at rgronberg@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.

Contact Ray Gronberg at rgronberg@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.

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