Fins are in: Capco adds to growing operation

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A new manufacturing operation at Capco builds fin assemblies for 500-pound bombs. The Grand Junction-based defense contractor recently received a nearly $34.3 million contract to supply the fin assemblies. (Photo courtesy Capco)

A tour of the new manufacturing operation at Capco takes visitors through a process that involves robotic welders, computerized testing stations and a powder coating facility. The end result: bomb fin assemblies stacked just so on pallets and ready for shipment.

From his perspective as chief executive officer of Capco, Cordell Bennigson sees even more: “It’s a growth opportunity for us.”

A contract to build BSU-33 bomb fin assemblies for the United States military and foreign allies not only increases revenue for the Grand Junction-based defense contractor, but also diversifies its product line, Bennigson says. That leads to another end result, he adds: more jobs and an even bigger contribution to the Grand Valley economy.

“It’s all very, very powerful stuff.”

Powerful in a business sense, not a literal one. As Bennigson points out, Capco manufactures the fin assemblies that attach to the end of bombs, not the bombs themselves. The fin assemblies, which work like the feathers on an arrow, have long been used on 500-pound bombs dropped from Air Force, Marine and Navy aircraft.

Capco was awarded a nearly $34.3 million contract to supply the fin assemblies. The company subsequently purchased a 35,000-foot-building on South 12th Street and invested more than $5 million in the building and manufacturing facilities there.

Production began in September. When fully staffed, the operation will employ about 35 people, Bennigson said. The overall staff at Capco totals 375.

In addition to the contract for bomb fin assemblies, Capco recently received a nearly $40 million contract for impulse cartridges used to eject flares and chaff from aircraft and an almost $39 million contract for lightweight machine gun tripods. Capco has supplied cartridges since 2002 and tripods since 2013.

Since Capco was founded in 1968, it has experienced success in manufacturing products for the Department of Defense and other industries. What’s different these days, Bennigson says, is a growing awareness of the company and its operations.

There’s more to come. “We’re really in a growth mindset and a growth attitude.”

Capco will pursue other contracting opportunities to supply new products or make existing products better, Bennigson says. Capco also pursues research to design it own products, he adds.

The company has developed a reputation over the years as a trusted contractor that supplies products offering what Bennigson calls extreme reliability. “They do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it.”

While price matters in government contracting, Bennigson says it’s more important to provide products with the highest value than the lowest cost.

Technology plays a role, he says. The new manufacturing facilities for the bomb fin assembles includes robotic welders and other computerized equipment that makes the process not only quicker and more efficient, but also minimizes variability and meets strict specifications for quality.

But at the same time, the work of skilled employees is still required, Bennigson says. “It’s not a one size fits all.”

The success of Capco in securing contracts and expanding operations has resulted in increased staffing — and more opportunities for those looking for jobs, Bennigson says. That includes veterans.

Capco recently received the Employers of Veterans Award from the American Legion, Department of Colorado for its efforts. Executives at Capco provide assistance to veterans applying for positions with the company and also assist with job fair boot camps conducted by the Mesa County Workforce Center in Grand Junction.

Growth also has created more opportunities for existing Capco employees to develop their careers either in different departments or management positions, Bennigson says.

Meanwhile, the economic contributions of the manufacturing operation grow as well.

That’s why Bennigson says he’s excited about the new manufacturing operation at Capco, but also what he sees as additional opportunities.