Innovation in Fairfax County: MAC Aerospace

In an area in which state-of-the-art office buildings sport the names of some of the biggest names in aerospace and defense, MAC Aerospace Corp. of Chantilly is a company of prominence, if not the highest profile. MAC's modest offices are tucked away, off the main drag in an industrial park. Its staff is small, with 21 seasoned employees getting the job done in its Fairfax County location. But its impact globally is not to be underestimated as a supplier of parts and services for aircraft, sophisticated radar and weaponry.

The Farnborough International Airshow in July presented an important event for MAC, which founder and CEO Jay Rodriguez says does 95 percent of its business with clients from outside the U.S.

"We bring our company to the world by attending and participating in different trade shows," Rodriguez says. "Farnborough is one of the larger shows, so it has a lot more bandwidth with companies from all over the world, including the Middle East, some people from Asia and a lot from Europe.

 "When we go to Farnborough or any other show - like the ones in Dubai, Singapore or Colombia -- we're trying to meet with existing customers and find new customers. We also look for sources of supply, internationally. "

 MAC specializes in supporting U.S.-manufactured equipment for aircraft, radar and weapon systems. The company handles engineering and manufacturing as well as repair-and-overhaul services. It works directly with the U.S. Air Force and prime contractors that have contracts from the U.S. government.

Whether it's landing gear for an F-16, circuitry for Lockheed Martin-produced radar or rotor components for Boeing Chinook helicopters, MAC supplies both parts and expertise.

"Here, in Chantilly, we have all of our sales force. We do some engineering and some light manufacturing," Rodriguez says. "It's where we have our distribution center with over 25,000 line items in stock.

"There are a lot of companies that do some aspects of what we do, but I don't think there are many companies that do all the areas that we cover. MAC specializes in being able to coordinate capabilities -- be it engineering, manufacturing, reverse-engineering, logistical services or distribution. We kind of bring it all together so customers can benefit from a one-stop shop."

Being located in Fairfax County is essential for MAC. Defense and aerospace companies in the county received $13.7 billion in Department of Defense contract awards in 2017 alone. According to Defense News, nine of the top 10 global defense companies (and 35 of the top 100) have operations in Fairfax County.

Chantilly is just down the road from Washington Dulles International Airport. In addition to being home to multiple defense and aerospace firms, the area is less than 25 miles west of the nation's capital, the Pentagon and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. 

"I think for any business that's going to be doing business related to aerospace and defense in the capital area, this is the perfect location," says Rodriguez, who was raised and educated in Fairfax County and founded his company 28 years ago. 

"It's beneficial to be established here with access to Washington, D.C., and all the different government entities. I think this is a great location for a foreign company. Not only is the federal government located nearby, but so are the major OEMs -- the Lockheeds, the Northrop Grummans and the General Dynamics. We work very closely with them and have multi-year contracts with some of them. They're the primes (contractors) to the U.S. government, so if they get business, we get business."

Innovation is at the core of MAC's success. It recently produced software for in-house use that sources and tracks parts for defense customers, enabling the company to have all the parts required for a job in the right place at the right time. MAC prides itself on its ability to supply hard-to-find, sometimes obsolete parts and repair kits as well as cutting-edge inventory. 

This year at Farnborough, MAC showcased a Navy-approved fault detector with the ability to pinpoint wiring problems in even the largest of aircraft, trains or buildings. It also displayed a test set for communications devices that enables troubleshooting across the wide spectrum of device manufacturers. To accomplish all that it takes on, MAC needs the right workforce with the skills and knowledge to tackle today's technical challenges.

Rodriguez is a graduate of Fairfax-based George Mason University. He recruits talent from the school, and also appreciates Fairfax County's highly skilled workforce, where more than 61 percent of adult residents have a bachelor's degree or higher.

"We draw from people that are going to school at George Mason and we get very good results," Rodriguez says. "We have had a lot of graduates from there and also interns. In the end, we benefit quite a bit from the talent that is in this county. A lot of people here specialize in technology, and we benefit from those people coming to work for MAC."

MAC Aerospace is located at 14558 Lee Road, Chantilly, VA 20151;  703-502-8300; www.macaerospace.com.