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CAVU receives funding for new employees

The general manager of CAVU Aerospace, which operates locally out of Hangar 84 at the Roswell Air Center, says the company is experiencing strong growth. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Aviation services company wants to hire more mechanics, technicians

An aviation services company has received additional state job training money for its Roswell operations to hire up to 20 more people in the next 12 months, as the company’s general manager says that CAVU continues to experience growth in its local customer base.

The funding decision was made by the New Mexico Job Training Incentive program board during its Friday meeting. Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. and its President Michael Espiritu supported the funding, with Espiritu saying that he is “encouraged by their new job growth.”

CAVU Aerospace is an aircraft maintenance, storage and dismantling operation certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. It has mobile teams and operates in facilities in Stuttgart, Arkansas; Victorville, California; Mesa, Arizona; and the Roswell Air Center.

It has received $238,898 from JTIP for its Roswell operations. A program of the New Mexico Economic Development Department, JTIP reimburses eligible employers for a portion of the wages they pay to hire and train new employees. The funds also can be used to train existing employees for new positions.

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The new funding is expected to pay up to 10 trainees and 10 apprentices for jobs that have an average wage of $21.20 an hour. The salary range is from $15 an hour for beginning apprentices to $27 an hour for experienced master aviation technicians, with two positions locally in the master category. The company also wants to hire four people at the technician level, with wages starting at $17 an hour, and four at the journeyman level, which pays a starting wage of $19 an hour.

General manager William Johnson said the company has 37 employees in Roswell and 72 company-wide and could expand up to 50 Roswell jobs by the end of 2021 if current demand continues. He said some of the recent growth is related to the need for airlines and passenger carriers to store and maintain aircraft during the coronavirus crisis, and some of it is a result of the demand to resell retired aircraft or convert passenger aircraft into cargo carriers.

“Our number of aircraft has gone from about 10 to somewhere in the neighborhood of 100, and our customer base has increased six- or sevenfold,” Johnson said. “We also have some ongoing things with government agencies.”

Johnson said he is working with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, as well as with Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and its aviation maintenance technology program, to develop summer internships as well as more in-depth apprenticeships that would involve both college instruction and on-the-job training. CAVU also looks for employees from a military separation program, he said.

Johnson said the Roswell operations haven’t hired anyone from out of state yet, but typically run three to four people short of the staffing he would like to have.

“One of the struggles we kind of have is getting younger people to understand that this is a viable career,” he said. “Honestly I think we need to start in the eighth grade and tell these younger folks that this a very viable career field for them. I think the average payroll is $20 to $21 an hour, which is pretty good for this area. I don’t think we get enough information to them for them to consider this.”

The company has been operating in Roswell since about 2012 and received a prior JTIP award for January 2020 to January 2021. That funding resulted in 11 new hires, 10 of whom are still employed with CAVU and two of whom were promoted, according to the documentation provided by the JTIP board.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.