MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — The eyes of the aviation world are all on Paris this week for the Paris Air Show.
While most of us watch from thousands of miles away, many people catch the event in person. Companies, big and small, make the trip overseas.
For one Rockford-area man, it’s like coming full circle, back to the beginning of his aerospace business made in the stateline.
“It’s basically how we got the business started, by coming to this show, as far as opening up the European market for us,” said Brent Johnson, president of Midwest Aero Support in Machesney Park.
That’s why, every two years, Johnson flies to France for the Paris Air Show. He says he’s only missed a couple of shows since 1983.
“I would say – take the Super Bowl and multiply it times 50,” he said via phone Thursday. “It’s just the largest air show in the world that you’ll ever see, and hundreds of thousands of people attend the show. There’s thousands of booths.”
Those booths are filled with companies trying to sell their products or services.
Johnson says he knows many of them. He spent eight years working for aerospace giant Saab, based in Sweden, before opening his own business here.
“We have several relationships with quite a few companies in France,” he said. “And, it gives us an opportunity to visit all of them and try to expand our business.”
We first visited Brent at Midwest Aero more than two years ago, to get an idea of what the company does. The core of the business is repairing aircraft components, things like airplane seats, but also systems that regulate pressure inside airplanes, the parts that keep ice off the wings and electronics.
“We are their authorized service center in North America for the products they manufacture and have on various aircraft,” Johnson said.
So, when an airplane buys a plane and something needs to be fixed, instead of sending products back to the manufacturer, it gets sent someplace like Midwest Aero. That’s why an appearance in Paris is so important.
“It’s an opportunity to try to build more relationships with the original equipment manufacturers, so we can do more work for the airlines, and so we also look to build some cooperative agreements with other companies that I wouldn’t consider to be our competitors, but they kind of do the same thing and they’d like to have a presence in North America.”
Collins Aerospace and Woodward also have teams at the Paris Air Show.