This editorial appears in the June 21, 2012, Yakima Herald-Republic.
The Dreamliner is a twin-engine commercial jetliner with room for 210 to 290 passengers. CubCrafters seeks a different market entirely; nearly 90 percent of its production is in the light sport category, the Sport Cub and Carbon Cub. Both of those Cubs are single-engine, propeller-driven craft that seat two.
A common theme that applies as they ply the skies: Whether large commercial craft or small sport craft, the highest potential for growth lies overseas.
CubCrafters especially is in an expansion spurt and is on pace to build 60 new planes this year, up by almost a third over last year. The company now has 125 to 130 employees, higher than its peak employment levels before the economic recession ravaged the industry in 2008, and up from 70-80 workers four years ago. Base prices run from $134,950 for the Sport Cub to $163,280 for the Carbon Cub.
The company just entered the European Union market with shipments to the United Kingdom. The EU, Australia and Brazil have eased sales of the light sport category by adopting the industry's design standard.
The domestic market is more mature, with many pilots weighing the benefits of rebuilding an old plane versus buying a new one. CubCrafters gets about 20 percent of its business in rebuilds, but the company profits most from selling new planes. Down the road, the highest profit potential, the company believes, is overseas.
Like the export-dependent agricultural commodities this area produces, the aircraft industry needs to know its overseas market and adjust its strategies accordingly. It also needs elected officials who understand the importance of trade and can serve as advocates for its industries.
Whether a 200-seater or a two-seater, it's a global market -- one in which the Yakima Valley increasingly finds ways to play a role.
* Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Sharon J. Prill, Bob Crider, Frank Purdy and Karen Troianello.